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On a winning streak
Established in 1978, Seiko Architectural Wall Systems is in the business of the design, supply, fabrication and installation of building facade products and components. Some of the products include windows, doors, curtain wall, metal cladding, louvres, sunshades and shopfronts that can be found in buildings.
Recently, Seiko was awarded three overseas projects of significant value, marking its first successful foray into the North American markets. The company’s development beyond Singapore and Malaysia can be attributed to its forward-thinking approach towards innovation for growth.
Some of its latest innovative efforts include designing more energy efficient wall and door systems to meet stringent client requirements; commencing traceability systems in the factory using digital technologies; and using BIM (Building Information Modelling) and manufacturing software to link to production machinery to improve operational efficiency.
Seiko’s managing director Rodney Cheong shares some of the ways in which the company continues to keep up with digital advances to stay competitive.
Q: How does Seiko keep up with new technological advances?
A: Seiko has staff looking into ways of improving work productivity and adoption of technology to achieve higher operational efficiency. We engage the assistance of appropriate external consultants to bring the ‘extra’ dimension or knowledge to our organisation before embarking on the route of engaging specialist vendors to implement the ideas.
Q: How has digital transformation affected your sector, and how has Seiko adapted to this change?
A: Digital transformation does not seem to affect the built-environment (or construction) sector in a big way as compared to other industries. However, the need to follow closely to such transformation is critical for future survival. The government’s push for the sector to utilise the BIM software to perform works has made it mandatory for players to follow suit.
Seiko has already started to utilise BIM Softwares to perform design, material take-offs, fabrication drawings, and more. We will also extend the use for project management in the near future. Furthermore, we have commenced to use digital technologies for our factory operations.
Q: How important is it for Seiko to readily adopt new technology, and how does this enable the company to stay relevant in the industry?
A: The importance to adopt digital technologies to stay relevant cannot be understated. We live in a world of constant digital disruption now. If Seiko does not keep up — and our competition does, we will be eliminated in no time. Rather than wait for the competition to overtake us, we choose to be the early adopters in becoming a digitally-run company.
We hope to utilise digital technology to improve operational efficiency and propel Seiko to be the preferred facade specialist contractor or supplier, or both, in Singapore and the overseas markets.
Q: What are some of the more significant business obstacles or challenges you have faced thus far?
A: The built environment sector in Singapore remains very challenging with relatively few projects over the last few years. Having anticipated such a situation, Seiko ventured overseas to develop new markets. We were rewarded with such overseas projects that will grow to become the main revenue contributor to our business.
Q: How has digital transformation enabled Seiko to overcome business challenges?
A: One of the requirements of our overseas projects is to provide traceability in our products. Using a manual process for this poses a huge challenge, especially when you need to consider the amount of labour needed and the potential errors in data collection and processing.
Thus, we embarked on the journey of using digital technology to satisfy our client’s requirement of traceability while also reaping other benefits that can be derived from this implementation. The use of code scanning system essentially automates many laborious processes while simultaneously assuring accuracy.
Q: What are some of the qualities that enable Seiko to overcome such obstacles quickly and effectively?
A: Seiko is a forward-looking company that attempts to anticipate changes needed in the business to stay ahead of the competition. Armed with an “up-to-date” business model and several key long-serving and committed staff, it is able to deal with obstacles quickly and effectively.
Everyone on the management team is aligned to work towards a common target and motivated to achieve the objective, regardless of challenges along the way.
Q: How significant is the E50 award for Seiko, and how does this reflect on its business philosophy and practices?
A: Seiko is proud to share the achievement of being presented the Enterprise 50 (E50) Award for the ninth consecutive year in 2018.
Our management team still feels encouraged and honoured to be recognised, and we are looking forward to achieving more.
The E50 Award remains a significant milestone in Seiko’s journey, especially as we attempt to create a legacy of recognition of achievements that will reinforce our sustainability and credibility to business partners, bankers, human talents and clients.
Q: How do you compare Seiko’s performance and growth, especially when competing against bigger businesses?
A: Our yardstick for success is to be able to groom a talented team and generate reasonable profits to declare bonuses to employees, dividend payouts to shareholders, as well as perform corporate social responsibilities.
In order to increase our success rate, Seiko has embarked on the journey of internationalisation for growth.
As a small and medium-sized enterprise, Seiko positions itself differently from bigger businesses, with more emphasis on the bottomline than sales turnover, and strengthening communication efforts so that its top management staff and managers work closer together to give our clients the constant attention and service. In the long run, Seiko aims to be a niche player and provider of building façade products and components.