The Logistics industry makes good use of innovative technology for a better future. Lianhe Zaobao feature.
December 17, 2018
Link to full article: https://www.zaobao.com.sg/zfinance/sme/story20181213-915439?fbclid=IwAR0BMOZAt0l63hzViP-pj04Ii4Wqgj3frWh6-WuppgepRfNL2aLlzqZ8VJI
The Logistics industry makes good use of innovative technology for a better future.
Faced with the challenges and opportunities of the digital age, it is imperative for enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to make good use of innovation and technology. Adapting to changes in the business environment, actively transforming, and adopting innovative technologies is the way for SMEs to shape the future. The series is divided into 10 phases. This week, the company has a status as a transportation company. The founder of the company, Wilson Chua Boon Leng, and Director Chua Swee Meng, Ken share how to enhance productivity through digitalization.
“Although people say this is a sunset industry, this sentence gives me even more impetus.” Perhaps the first impression people have on the logistics industry is “rough work”, and young people will be discouraged. However, the 30-year-old Ken Chua has joined the industry, leading the transformation of the family business; giving new hopes to the company
Ken Chua, who now serves as a Director of the transportation company UT-WAYS Freight Services Pte Ltd, said in an interview that he joined the company four years ago and worked in a startup company that was involved in event management for four months. He recalled that when starting a company, he had to do everything, from logistics to talent management, with long working hours. Because I found that I could not develop much in this job, I decided to go back to the family business to help. “The family actually wants me to help with the business, but I just don’t want to join UT-WAYS immediately after graduation.”
Although the family business is still working day and night, and has a lot of on-going projects, Ken Chua believes that there is more momentum and motivation in his company work. "After all, this company has raised me, hence, I feel that I must continue to build the future for the company." The company was founded in 1989, which happened just after the birth of Ken. His father, Wilson Chua (66, Managing Director), was the founder. Wilson worked in a multinational logistics company for 15 years and found that people have a very high demand for shipping, especially air transportation that is highly sought after. “Air transport is not only fast, but the damage to the items is low. What many people don’t know is that if you import goods that weigh more than 100 kilograms on average, this may be comparable to the price of shipping.”
Word Play on the company’s name
After establishing UT-WAYS, Wilson began to look for customers to provide transportation services that was mainly airlifted. The reporter asked curiously if the company first took the Chinese name and then searched for the English name. Wilson, who was interviewed in English, said that it was the opposite; and he spent a year thinking about the name. He said that UT originally represented Union Transportation, but he found that it was not applicable, so he took the first letter "UT" of the two words, plus "Ways", and later he found out that the company name sounds exactly the same as "having status"(有地位, so it is used as the company's Chinese name. "It's right to use this name because many people remember it." The status of the business began to pick up, and the team's manpower increased from the initial three to 30 in nine years. However, when the Asian financial turmoil struck in 1997, Wilson’s business was also affected. He said that he had previously hired a relative to take care of the business, during which the latter left with two-thirds of the company and set up a company with the same business to fight against him. For Wilson, it is perhaps a great fortune to "cut" the manpower at this critical moment. “It also makes me know that I must be more careful when doing business in the future.” He believes that in this industry we must establish integrity, even in hard times customers will remain loyal and support our business. This is how the company overcame this crisis. However, how to find customers before this? Wilson said that the promotions were sent to a number of companies through fax machines, and the other party would call back. By 2014, this approach has became obsolete . Fortunately that was also the year that Ken Chua officially joined the company , starting out with a suit and flyers in hand, he went door to door around Ubi distributing these flyers. He said: "I still remember that some companies posted a "No Salesperson" sign outside the gate." In addition to visiting the company, Ken also dialed the phone and introduced the service directly to the company. He said that he set goals at the time and had to win a client every week, and he did it. A year later, Ken was responsible for more company business and redesigned the company's website. One of the major features was the uploading of photos of each member of the company and the collection of important information on one page. He explained that when a customer sees the photo of a team, ge also knows which one to contact, and therefore builds trust. Apart from Ken, his mother (Dorothy Au Yeong Lai Leng), 2nd sister (Kerry Chua Swee Yen), 2nd brother-in-law (Ivan Wee Tong Hin), and 3rd sister (Elaine Chua Swee Ping) are also part of the family business. Ken also improved the company's business processes, including implementing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to let new employees who just took up the job know how to fill in the documents; such as the permit declaration.
Cooperating with the Republic Polytechnic to develop a Robotic Process Automation project
Last year, the company worked with the Centre of Innovation - Supply Chain Management at Republic Polytechnic (COI-SCM@RP) to develop a robotic process automation project. This makes the entry and export of the permit data faster, thereby increasing productivity. For example, Ken said that in the past an employee had to open multiple worksheets when entering a document. The whole process took about five minutes. “Employees can now just fill in a excel worksheet which reduces the time required to two minutes per entry and removes human error.” This project is now part of the logistics industry transformation blueprint and can be used in other companies. With the adoption of new technologies, UT-WAYS have improved productivity and efficiency and are better able to serve hundreds of customers, including BMW agent’s Performance Motors and Singapore Post (SingPost). However, in order to compete with domestic and foreign players in this internationalized world, the company places more emphasis on providing customers with the best and personalized service. Ken mentioned that recently, a client imported a exhibit into a local exhibition. He personally attended the observation of the shipping and delivery process, and sent photos to the customer in real time. Wilson also said that there was a customer who encountered logistical issues when trying to expand the company, Ivan had to fly to the northeast of China to deal with the problem till it was solved. “When we provide personalised service, we can build greater trust with our customers.” He believes that with company’s acquisition of warehouses in Ubi, it helped to facilitate customers to store goods. They also recently set up warehouses in Tuas to prepare for the terminal in the future. In addition to being responsible for the company's business, Ken's other major task is to transform the industry to attract more young people to join. He joined the Logistics Alliance and worked with members of other associations to discuss solutions. The alliance is supported by the Singapore Container Depot and Logistics Association (CDAS), the Singapore Aircargo Agents Association (SAAA@Singapore), the Singapore Logistics Association (SLA) and the Singapore Transport Association (STA), Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and The Centre of Innovation - Supply Chain Management at Republic Polytechnic (COI-SCM@RP).
Ken said that members are discussing the establishment of a youth group, which will pave ways for new ideas to improve the industry. “With one company trying to change the entire industry, we might as well work with other players to get twice the result with half the effort.”