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Working greener and smarter
A MANUFACTURER of wooden pallets, crates and boxes, LHT Holdings has developed a series of environmentally friendly products made from 50 to 100 per cent waste wood materials in response to changing customer needs. The Innovative Processed Product Conversion (IPPC) line of pallets, crates and boxes do not require fumigation or heat treatment when exported, saving both costs and delivery time compared to those made from natural wood.
What's more, it takes just five to eight steps to produce IPPC pallets, compared to 19 steps for traditional pallets. "With IPPC, we enjoy reduced lead time and enhanced productivity compared to traditional wooden pallets," says Thomas Yeo, senior manager at LHT Holdings.
Such innovation is not new to LHT. In 1977, it established Singapore's first waste wood recycling plant, which allowed timber industrial waste to be turned into a product known as "technical wood". This is a compressed engineered wood that can be substituted for natural wood.
LHT is a publicly listed company that has been in the timber industry for more than 30 years and counts Fortune 500 companies and multinational corporations among its clients. The company leases and manufactures pallets of various sizes and also fabricates boxes, crates, flooring and furniture components.
In 2009, LHT collaborated with the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) as its technology partner on a project that allows the firm to track and trace its pallets using an RFID pallet management system (PMS). Today the solution is being used to provide real-time tracking of pallets rented out to customers in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Since implementing the PMS system, leasing sales has increased and there has been a notable reduction in invoice discrepancies. "The system has successfully demonstrated that it can provide accurate and real-time tracking information in a multi-industry supply chain. The benefits are extended to the customers as well, as they now have easy access to view their rental pallet inventories online," says Mr Yeo.
The Pallet & Crate (PnC) Design System is another of LHT's efforts to increase its productivity. The system improved the efficiency and effectiveness of wood pallet and crate designs that are compliant with international standards.
The PnC system was another project conducted with SIMTech and commissioned in early 2016. The pallet or crate drawings made using the system can be e-mailed and viewed in 3D on customers' desktops using Adobe PDF viewer. System features like a carbon footprint calculator and a life-cycle assessment tool were added to the design process to reduce materials, handling cost, waste and toxicity.
"It is the norm for salesmen to use pencils and rulers when making technical drawings of pallets for customers. As the world became more digital, we realised it was time for us to use digital drawings. While it was challenging initially for our staff to make the transformation, with training we were able to overcome the obstacles," explains Mr Yeo.
LHT will continue on its journey to become a greener and smarter manufacturer. It is planning to build a multi-storey ramp-up factory at its new location at Kranji that will combine a green building environment with a smart factory.
The company began collaborating with SIMTech in September this year to introduce next generation technology at its new facility. It is also planning to purchase two more automated pallet-making machines to enhance its productivity for the new smart factory at Kranji. Says Mr Yeo: "We believe that technology plays a vital role in the organisation. It helps transform LHT ahead of other market players in its competitive edge."