by | Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Ahmad Ramli, Executive Deputy Chairman & Managing Director Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd
Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation (BHIC) is one of the largest shipping corporations in Malaysia, a long established key player in the shipbuilding and its related services. Having been operating since 2005, the industrial group is primarily involved in the shipbuilding, fabrication, ship repair as well as defence and naval system maintenance industries. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor, the Executive Deputy Chairman and Managing
Director of BHIC shared that the corporation has a diverse portfolio in the shipping business where it is also actively developing the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) segment with a heavy investment made to upgrade its facilities apart from looking at new yards to complement the existing infrastructure.
“Currently, the MRO activities are being carried out in our Langkawi yard catering for the smaller yachts whereas the oil and gas sector is being undertaken in our Penang facilities,” he said.
As one of the main drivers of the national economy, BHIC is also working diligently to improve its participation in the local defence sector on aerospace which has seen it collaborating with the air force and enforcement agencies for the MRO operations. On top of the local customers, it is also the primary service provider for the Airbus defence helicopters while at the same time, trying to penetrate new markets to widen its presence in the aircraft business.
“As a proactive business entity, BHIC has invested in engineering and design to pave the way towards competing at the global arena with our innovative concepts for which we have the intellectual property,” he conveyed further.
Nevertheless, being a local enterprise that has seen its fair share of ups and downs in the shipping business, BHIC is eager to develop home grown talents who will be able to market its own designs sans the dependence on foreign input.
With the international market
set in sight, BHIC has made the
preparations to provide services
for the regional airline companies
via its centre in Malaysia.
ON REGIONAL AND GLOBAL EXPANSIONS
Despite the aspiration to nurture the domestically available human capital through strategic partnerships with higher learning institutions and training centres, BHIC is not discounting the importance of foreign partners whom the company can learn new technologies from, hence the continued collaboration with the French and Germans in the areas of air and seacraft endeavours.
With the international market set in sight, BHIC has made the preparations to provide services for the regional airline companies via its centre in Malaysia before making further inroads to embark on establishing a base overseas.
According to Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Ahmad Ramli, “The ecosystem is evolving. Therefore, one of BHIC’s aspirations is to develop the country to become a regional hub that is capable of supporting the MRO requirements.”
Taking the cue from Singapore, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Ahmad Ramli further elaborates the comprehensive service package available in the island nation assisted by the presence of an established supply chain, making it a competitive regional hub with only the volumes part left to be augmented.
In this challenging time, BHIC envisions integrating its business operations on an online platform as a means to attract more clients and maximise the value of its supply chain. It has ventured into the submarine maintenance business which culture can be adopted in other marine activities undertaken by the company with the aerospace MRO set as the application benchmark.
As a global market institution, the company is going through difficult times which have gone on for almost a decade. For it to be able to sustain its vision and objectives, the business must be profitable so that it can invest more in research and development to be able to grow. However, BHIC is being realistic about entering the western markets as their technology is far superior to what it has developed now.
ON THE HUMAN CAPITAL
On unlocking the full potential of Malaysian engineers, BHIC is committed to meet the target of providing training and industry experience for engineers and skilled workers that will contribute to the development of the new gross national income. In addition, along the corporate social responsibility program, ship designers are being groomed to strengthen the foundation for the capabilities to design and build vessels.
Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Ahmad Ramli shared an exciting development taking place in the vast network of the local heavy shipbuilding industry: “The diverse nature of the shipbuilding environment has opened up doors of opportunity for yet another group of employees – the female workforce. Fighting the flow will be taking a step backwards so what BHIC does is to recruit any gender offered by the employment market and we are now a proud employer of 45 female graduates working on the ships!”
It is also considering re-energising its manpower by trimming the number of non-performers as it prepares to launch a stronger presence at the global stage in the next five years with a team of formidable staff.
With the recovery of the commercial sector of the shipping industry remains elusive, BHIC needs to strike a balance between the different businesses that it is operating to compensate for the weak area. The turnaround plan calls for huge investments in many aspects of the setup including increasing the productivity, enhancing the people’s skills as well as upgrading the infrastructure to face the bitter reality of the soft economy.
Now that the global market is beckoning, BHIC will strive to upskill the human capital to fulfil the regional and subglobal defence demands with the Middle East and Africa as the potential prospects.
Needless to say, the domestic market has also kept the shop floor busy to fulfil its customer’s order with six frigates to build at present. The organisation nevertheless has its own formula to sustain the business in response to the market challenges made soft by the prolonged recession:
“We offer a competitive edge in terms of driving the cost down while upping the ante, leaving our competitors behind as we plot the course to success,” Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Ahmad Ramli concluded matter-of-factly.