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Growing from strength to strength
SINGAPORE is a key hub for leading shipping company K Line Pte Ltd, which has been conferred the International Maritime Centre (IMC) Award in the corporate category at this year's Singapore International Maritime Awards (IMA).
The key business activities of K Line are trade management marketing, the handling of the global operations of its vessels for containers and supporting quality control of car carrier services. More importantly, K Line is also involved in the provision of bulk vessels, oil tankers and chemical tanker services.
"It is a great honour for us to have been awarded the International Maritime Centre (IMC) Award in the corporate category. We have been in Singapore since 2001 and we are glad to have contributed towards Singapore's maritime industry," says Makoto Hashizume, director, president and CEO of K Line.
"We would like to thank MPA for this recognition and also take this opportunity to thank our staff in K Line Pte Ltd for their good teamwork and co-operation. It is also our firm commitment to continue contributing towards the development of Singapore as an International Maritime Centre," he adds.
The IMA, presented biennially, is a highlight of the Singapore Maritime Week.
K Line Pte Ltd has a long history in Singapore and has contributed to the development of Singapore as an IMC over the years. In addition to the placement of different business functions in Singapore, the company is investing in local manpower as well as driving technology adoption projects in Singapore to support its long-term growth.
Since its initial setup in August 2001, both staff strength and operation scope of K Line had expanded greatly. K Line started with a staff of about 30 plus, which has since grown to more than 180.
"K Line's bulker & tanker division started its operation in April 2002 with just one bulk carrier and has seen its operations expand to close to 30 vessels, encompassing both bulk carriers and tankers," says Mr Hashizume.
In April last year, K Line started a new business division, the Panamax Fleet Allocation Centre, to further strengthen its position as a leading global integrated logistics company.
Mr Hashizume says K Line has been very fortunate and honoured to have been with Singapore from the beginning, as it grew into one of the leading International Maritime Centres (IMC) today.
He adds that K Line had contributed to the development of Singapore as an IMC in a number of ways. "Firstly, by being one of the first few international shipping groups to have established themselves in Singapore in the early 2000s and supporting Singapore throughout the years. Secondly, I also believe that we have assisted Singapore's flourishing maritime services by providing a comprehensive mix of logistic services. In particular, K Line currently provides liner services globally. Also, K Line is operating its own liner services between Singapore and Western Australia and Singapore and the east coast of Australia.
"Additionally and as mentioned earlier, our bulk and tanker division has grown substantially since 2002 and I am confident that our current fleet of 16 bulker vessels - 12 of which are Singapore registered - and seven tankers has helped to contribute towards the rich diversity of maritime services in Singapore," says Mr Hashizume.
"I also have faith that in light of the immense growth potential for dry bulk in South-east Asia and South Asia, our current presence in Singapore will further contribute towards cementing Singapore as a leading IMC."
Among the reasons why K Line decided to place and grow different functions here in Singapore is the strong and clear support given to shipping businesses by the Singapore government. "This, together with the political stability and known fact of Singapore being one of the least corrupt countries, is aligned with our corporate vision of 'A fair way of business', also greatly influenced our decision to remain in Singapore," says Mr Hashizume.
K Line is investing in local manpower as well as driving technology adoption projects in Singapore to support its long-term growth.
One such initiative is the overseas placement programme under which a K Line Group company may send its staff to be attached to another K Line Group company for at least two years.
"Since 2014, we have sent three local staff to our offices in Richmond, USA and London, UK. One of them has returned, while two are still on attachment. Similarly, we have a programme, known as K Line University, whereby nominated staff from each K Line Group company will participate to improve communication and to develop mutual understanding of the various K Line Group companies and cultural differences. We have sent 10 local staff to participate in this K Line University programme," says Mr Hashizume.
Another unique programme that K Line has is its seafaring onboard training under which staff has the opportunity to go onboard one of the company vessels to experience the life of a crew member. Already, 24 local employees have attended this programme.
K Line also has a number of technological improvement projects that are being implemented by its local information system team. "Specifically, our local team is creating a global portal for online booking, implementing a new cargo space management system to enhance our process of vessel space monitoring and also developing a common global system for ourselves and our agents, to ensure ease of information flow and to increase our productivity," says Mr Hashizume.
"We are also working closely with MPA to drive operational productivity within Singapore's maritime industry through the use of technology and in this regard, we would like to thank MPA once again for their tremendous assistance and support," he adds.