Interview with Mr Win Tun, Business Development Manager, WITRON
For 45 years, WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH has been successfully developing storage and order picking systems with maximum customer benefits. So far, the company has concentrated on business activities in Europe and North America. Today, WITRON employs more than 2,400 people worldwide and generates an annual revenue of about €420m.
Now, the general contractor is going to strengthen its business activities in Southeast Asia and Pacific regions. So far, WITRON has designed and realised projects in this region with repeat customers from Europe. Now, the company will also be implementing warehouse automation with new regional customers.
Responsible for the coordination is the new Business Development Manager, Mr Win Tun. The 32-year-old holds a degree in software development. Originally from Myanmar, he is also a British citizen and has been working with WITRON since 2008. As a software expert, he has managed and commissioned numerous automated distribution centres. He knows the logistics business from design, realisation and implementation, through to the after-sales service in every detail.
In this issue of Supply Chain Asia magazine, Mr Win Tun shares WITRON’s strategy for the region.
Why did WITRON choose Singapore as the starting point for its launch in Asia?
We are already familiar with the city’s landscape and culture. In addition, we are able to show reference projects in live operation, since we have successfully implemented logistics centres for customers from a variety of sectors, such as electronics, mechanical engineering, and third-party logistics (3PLs).
In addition, Singapore is booming – in industry, trade, as well as e-commerce, and will continue to develop very positively while showing high volume growth.
Another benefit that Singapore provides is its excellent geographical location. These optimal conditions result in the successful realisation of innovative logistics systems and provide a launch-platform into the Southeast Asian region and eventually Australia.
What are you most excited about for the industry in Asia Pacific?
Asia Pacific has a huge potential to grow. It is now time for the region to evolve to the next phase of technology, from mostly manual operations, to satisfying increasing demands of e-commerce, retail and wholesale sectors while keeping the operations cost efficient.
For many years, the design experts from WITRON have been providing the best possible solution for every customer (branch-overlapping) with regards to overall concept, warehouse technology, order picking technology, ergonomics, energy efficiency of an integrated functional responsibility, and life-time partnership starting from the first data analysis to all warehouse operations and continuous improvements. I am excited to be part of the innovation drive towards shaping the better future of logistics in Asia Pacific region in this evolving age.
Can you share some of the challenges so far that you have encountered since setting up presence here for WITRON? How are you handling them?
The challenge started with local soil conditions during the setup here. Our customer, Pepperl+Fuchs, one of the world’s leading companies for industrial sensors and technology, has erected the logistics centre on stilts. For this purpose, 200 bearing pillars with a length of up to 40 metres / 131 feet have been put into the ground. The construction of a 32 metres / 105 feet high fire protection wall between the logistics centre and the production and administration facility was a huge challenge.
In addition, the cost of land property is very expensive in Singapore. This has led to the implementation of a silo solution. For a high bay warehouse in silo design, the rack serves as a load-bearing component for roof and wall elements. Moreover, WITRON installed the fully automated tray warehouse directly on top of the pallet warehouse – a solution that is probably unique in the world. This construction method has reduced the facility costs to a minimum. Of course, there are many more challenges and as always, we work the problem together with the customer until we find a viable solution. People grow when dealt with challenges; the problem is only the enabler.
What differentiates WITRON from its competitors?
On the basis of specific customer demands, WITRON has developed holistic material flow solutions that set standards within the logistics world that are beyond competition, and ensure numerous competitive advantages for WITRON’s customers.
We also develop and produce the conveyor system for our projects. However, WITRON does not only focus on the design and realisation of new solutions, but also succeeds in the development of after-sales concepts. We provide customised services, maintenance, and servicing models, together with optimised web-based service management tools to ensure a high availability of the system – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
The goal of every WITRON solution is to significantly optimise, improve, and simplify logistics processes, and thus, generate maximum customer benefits.
Where do you see the greatest potential for WITRON?
Just like in Europe and North America, WITRON will not have a specific focus on a specific industry sector. For both continents, WITRON can point to the best references in food and non-food, as well as e-commerce and spare parts distribution. In Asia, namely China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea, WITRON has realised projects mainly with engineering companies and manufacturers of electronic components. However, these projects have always been executed through Germany, until now.
Due to rapid growth rates, the global market requires cost-efficient, flexible, and ergonomic logistics solutions within e-commerce and online trade. With a great number of innovative, automated, semi-automated, and manual storage and order picking systems, we believe that we remain well positioned in extending across industry sectors.
You work for a German company in Southeast Asia. How are you going to take the cultural hurdles?
Of course, Asia and Germany – and especially Bavaria or the Upper Palatinate Region – where WITRON has its roots -– are fundamentally different at first sight. But upon taking a closer look, there are plenty of parallels. While people there are traditional-minded, they are still very diligent, and very open to new ideas. These typical virtues characterise WITRON as well. This is why WITRON will be successful in Asia as well.
For me, I will try to be a good link between the two different cultures. While I may have Asian roots since I was from Myanmar, I have studied in England and have been working for WITRON for many years. I am multilingual, have realised projects on different continents of the world, and was able to get to know and appreciate many different cultures. Ultimately, I am confident that Asia as well as the Pacific region, and WITRON will fit together well.
What is your take on the current supply chain landscape in Asia in terms of technology adoption? Is technology adoption growing at an acceptable pace?
Singapore is the perfect logistics hub in Asia. Technology adoption is growing here and the country offers a solid platform through trade agreements with most European, American, and Asian countries. Due to world-class infrastructure and excellent global connectivity, Singapore continues to be the centre of technology growth for the supply chain management industry in the Southeast Asia region. However, to keep maximum flexibility, cost-efficiency, and insight projection to analyse the future based on history in the long run, smart automated logistics and software solutions will definitely grow more across the whole of Asia in connection with Singapore.
In your opinion, what are the most important attributes new graduates need to have to succeed in the industry?
My grandfather always says, ‘You have to love what you do! If you don’t love what you do, you have to find something you love!’ These are wise words. Working hard is never enough. Most of us work hard and get exhausted after sometime, but this does not affect you so much if you have the passion for what you do. Although tomorrow is a new challenge, you have to look forward to it and tackle it head on.
Tell us a bit more of yourself outside of WITRON.
I love to travel. Whenever I have a chance to take a vacation, I would be off somewhere with my family or friends or even on my own. Sometimes, I volunteer in social work, usually in Myanmar at Thabarwa Centre, which is a non-profit humanitarian organisation working for a noble cause.