This year I’ve managed to spend my time with some companies for the purpose of formal annual industrial visit, arranged by the university. Last year the most notable company was North Port Berhad (they would like to see Malaysia to develop its own underwater robots and systems). This year I manage to sat down with important people from Katsu Engineering, KJB Sdn Bhd, Sinco Automasi, TGS Maritime Technology and Malaysia Marine Heavy Engineering (MMHE).
Based from the meetings, there are some important lessons that I would like to note:
1- Malaysia used to be the best marine builders (ship, coastal & offshore) in the early 1990′s to 2000. Nowadays, the better services come from Singaporean companies. This is due to the advancement of technologies, the increase of efficiency in sourcing and innovative business strategies. Our undergraduates in School of Ocean Engineering in UMT should be exposed with these knowledge through case studies and practical research in order to match with such capabilities offered by our neighbour.
2- With that said, we should realize that technologies will come and go. However, experiences are things that could not be bought, and needed to be accumulated with time. Therefore, an age well spent is very important to the young engineers.
3- Age itself is something that could not be bought, but a young company can bring in experienced engineers (age 55 and above, post-retirement age) to come and mentor the operational and business aspects. This will introduce the use of best practices, especially regarding the importance of time-keeping, ledger records, work documentations and the dynamics of pricing.
4- Today, a young company could have a mentor, but how about the future? During the establishment of a young company, a system needs to be developed in such sense that if the mentor is not available, the company shall be able to steer itself automatically and maintaining her pace and directions. Therefore the need to have proper web-based data records, marketings, lead and sales in and out, expenditures and closures are critical.
5- Finally, a company should have some modes/strategies for it to at least, survive. It should have long-term vision for 20-40 years ahead in order to develop a culture of success.