Export companies - a case study

Indonesian eye for detail - Lowe Engineering

Indonesia certainly has its idiosyncrasies and particular ways of doing things, according to a long-established specialist engineering company which has been exporting to Indonesia since the 1980s.

Lowe Engineering Ltd, established in 1935, this year despatched a consignment of seven heat-exchangers to an Indonesian client. In a strange sort of way this was repeat business. The equipment replaced identical machines supplied by Lowe some three decades ago and which had finally worn out. Lowe used the original technical drawings for the project.

The exchangers were destined for the waste heat boiler of a process plant in the country.

Yet doing business can be time-consuming in this Far Eastern market for a variety of reasons, says Lowe’s operations director Graeme Walker. He says this latest order took six months from the first inquiry until it was finally shipped in the spring.

The Indonesians, it seems, like to be kept extremely well-informed and up to date with every detail.

“They kept asking a lot of questions,” says Mr Walker. “We had to go through various emails and pictures and we had to keep on reassuring them. It’s very hands on.

“The other thing to bear in mind is that like a lot of Asian countries the Indonesians use buying agents. In fact we had to quote this job to five or six different buying agents. We never deal with the end-user directly but through these agents.”

Mr Walker also cautions UK businesses to bear in mind weight and size restrictions when exporting to Indonesia. With more than 17,500 islands making up the country there are size limits in some of the more remote locations.