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FortyTwo makes room for ideas from staff

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(From left) Web developer Fadzly Othman, chief technology officer Jasper Chen and assistant operations manager for logistics Zaki Yusoff in FortyTwo's warehouse, demonstrating the in-house app which tracks items being sent for delivery.

WHEN Fadzly Othman joined FortyTwo as a web developer in 2012, he was looking forward to being part of a dynamic startup, not a traditional office environment.

Even so, he had not expected the degree to which he would take part in driving change.

"I didn't know that I'd be involved to this level. I just expected to be changing the code, that's all," says the 37-year-old.

When he joined, his first key task was fixing problems in the firm's existing code. After the code had been stabilised, however, Mr Fadzly started going through the company's operations to see what could be improved.

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That was how, for instance, he realised the need to revamp the delivery scheduling system (see main story).

In early 2015, he drove another project: introducing a more efficient way to pick items in the warehouse. Previously, the only way warehouse staff could identify goods was by reading the descriptions on the boxes.

Mr Fadzly's idea was for FortyTwo to print and affix its own QR codes to every item.

He learnt app programming and, with a colleague, developed an in-house app that warehouse pickers use to scan the QR codes on items before sending them for delivery.

This generates an automatic log of all the items that have been scanned out for delivery.

And if the wrong item is scanned, the app immediately flags the issue.

Wrong stock picks used to be a big headache, with an occurrence rate of about 3 per cent.

Thanks to the new system, such mistakes are now very rare, occurring perhaps about 0.1 per cent of the time, says Mr Fadzly.

Zaki Yusoff is one of those who helped to get the new system running - and saw its benefits.

He joined FortyTwo in 2010 as a delivery driver, but became a store assistant after a year and started being involved in operations. Two years ago, he joined the warehouse side of the company.

"The QR code thing helped, not just in delivery but also receiving from suppliers too," says the 37-year-old, who is now the assistant operations manager for logistics.

Previously, when suppliers delivered goods, those receiving the goods at the warehouse would have to flip through the paper records.

Now, with everything entered into the system and accessible via the app, warehouse workers no longer need to manually retrieve product information or check invoices.

Mr Zaki's role, too, has evolved over time. From playing a hands-on role initially, he is now "more of a middleman".

When changes are made and new systems introduced, he is the one planning new standard operating procedures and figuring out the required changes in job scopes.

In his time with the company, he has learnt everything from inventory control and delivery planning to managing accounts for suppliers and people management.

FortyTwo has proven to be more than he expected: "When I joined, I was thinking it was just a furniture company," he says with a grin.

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