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Crompton Small Motors expands into the DC market

01 March, 2003

Crompton Small Motors expands into the DC market

Crompton Small Motors, the former fractional horsepower business of Brook Crompton, is planning to diversify from its traditional AC activities into the DC motor market. The company, which Tyco Electronics bought from Invensys a year ago, will launch its new DC products at next month`s Hanover Fair.

Tyco has invested around £500,000 in developing the new ranges of DC motors and matching gearboxes. The permanent magnet motors, with ratings from 50-750W, will operate at speeds of up to 9,000 rpm, from 12-240V DC supplies. They will be available in IP ratings up to IP55.

Production of the DC motors is due to start at Crompton`s Doncaster plant in the second half of this year. General manager Brian Holdsworth (above) hopes that the new business will generate sales worth £5m within three years.

In contrast to the troubles at the Brook Crompton industrial motors business over the past year, the small machines business is thriving. Holdsworth reports that the company`s order books are full and he expects business to grow by about 7% in the financial year to September. "We`re very bullish," he says.

Crompton is committed to maintaining production in the UK. "We`re flying the flag as a UK manufacturer," says Holdsworth. Because almost all of the production processes are under its control on site, Crompton can offer typical lead times of two to three weeks - down from the eight to ten weeks that were typical five years ago.

Crompton Small Motors specialises in making customised motors in batches from five to 1,000. Some 96% of its sales go to OEMs, with pumps being the largest application sector (accounting for 27% of sales), followed by HVAC (15%), and business machines (14%). The company also has significant niche markets in areas such as floor polishers, and vacuum pumps and compressors.

Crompton is currently producing around 550,000 motors a year in ratings from 45-1,500W. In the last financial year, it generated sales worth £14.3m. It employs some 346 people - about 10% fewer than when it was bought by Tyco. Almost 80% of Crompton`s business is currently from the UK, and it dominates the UK market with around 55% of the business. Holdsworth sees this both as a strength and a weakness. "We`re close to our customers," he points out, "but the UK market keeps getting smaller, and we`ve suffered from this".

To counter this trend, Crompton is hoping to pick up more business from elsewhere in Europe, particularly in Germany which accounts for just 1% of its sales at present. It has recently appointed a sales executive to develop the German market. "We feel we can compete with anyone in Europe," says Holdsworth.

He says that Tyco`s involvement with Crompton has been "almost the ideal balance". The global conglomerate has provided sales and marketing help, but has "left us to run the business as we would like," Holdsworth reports.

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