Fueling A Digital Revolution On The Shop Floor

Oil and gas equipment maker Completion Products is leveraging Industry 4.0 technology to drive future success.

Incorporated in 2003, Completion Products has an enduring history of designing, developing, manufacturing, and supplying equipment for the oil and gas industry. Earlier this year, Completion Products signed up for SBF’s Industry 4.0 Human Capital Initiative (IHCI), with the aim of automating its workflows to improve the company’s efficiency and throughput.

Through IHCI, the company put in place an analytics system that provided its workers on the shop floor real-time visibility of workflows and gave them access to the data they need to plan their schedules better. Completion Products has since completed two other I4.0 projects that will extend digitisation to more parts of its operations.

Completion Products’ Managing Director, Graeme Dowsett (pictured right), talks to BiZQ about dealing with pandemic-related challenges and how the company has benefitted from IHCI.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your company and the industry?

The largest effect of the COVID-19 pandemic for us was the decrease in revenue stream. The oil and gas industry was hit with a double black swan, with an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia being announced days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. These two events created simultaneous shocks in supply and demand, and halved the capital expenditure (CAPEX) spending in the industry. The sudden drop in revenue was the biggest issue to manage during the pandemic.

Our company also faced challenges due to the requirements for safe management measures at the workplace. As a manufacturing company, we need shop floor team members to conduct hands-on-work processes at the facility. They had to be given priority to return to the workplace over non-hands-on team members. The hardest part of navigating this constraint was managing resources and challenges remotely.

Fortunately, our company was digitally matured enough to handle the workflow remotely. This allowed a relatively smooth continuity of much of our business functions and workflows to ensure timely product delivery to our clients.

The other significant event was the closing of the Malaysian border with only 48 hours’ notice. This affected a significant portion of our team members who commute daily across the border. On that day, we lost 25 per cent of our shop floor team members.

What steps did your company take to mitigate the supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

With our more progressive supply chains, we were better equipped to handle the events of the pandemic. We simply had more tools to draw from as the scenarios changed. We also applied different strategies to the disruptions in various ways. Each solution was unique to the set of problems presented.

For instance, we consolidated our outsourced services from regional supply chain bases, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, to largely Singaporean partners. With the lockdown measures applied to Malaysia, much of these outsourced services could be better managed from a business continuity perspective with Singaporean partners. This required us to put more effort to develop the relationships with some of the newer partners.

As for supply chains of our raw materials, Asia provided some resilience, in particular China. However, this still needed to be managed differently through increased communication with our suppliers and adjusting order quantities to ensure inventory levels did not deplete.

We prioritised suppliers that could provide better business continuity, rather than measuring our suppliers against the more traditional price, quality, and delivery matrix. Overall, the supply chain disruptions did not have a significant impact on us maintaining our business continuity to our customers.

How did the IHCI Enabler Programme help your company in its transformation journey?

The IHCI Enabler Programme was an excellent initiative for us to get a better feel of digitisation. We wanted to do something in I4.0 but did not know how to start. The programme gave a validated proof of concept, which helped ensure continuity on our I4.0 journey.

Specifically, the IHCI initiative gave us an insight into applying an I4.0 concept in detail with visible results. This empowered the team to really embrace I4.0 and have the confidence to not only continue the journey, but also have the right mindset to progress on that journey.

Since the IHCI project, we have completed two more digital transformation projects. We are now able to define an I4.0 roadmap and select solutions for our business needs so that we can do more for less.

How has your company redesigned jobs to help your employees reskill and upskill to take on higher-value roles in the company?

When Completion Products deploys a new system or technology, it requires a change in workflow and even job description. This would lead to competency gaps in our workforce, for which we provided training either internally or externally, and as required on a case-by-case basis.

When a job is redesigned, and workers are reskilled and upskilled, more “process-” or “administrative-” orientated tasks can be streamlined, providing employees at all levels the ability to make more informed decisions faster and more efficiently.

What advice would you give to companies looking to implement Industry 4.0 solutions?

I4.0 is such a big change in business that it needs to be embraced from the top. I recommend that CEOs and business leaders attain subject matter knowledge in I4.0, as they would in finance, sales and marketing, or operations. The leader needs to own the I4.0 strategy. It impacts all functions of the business and, as such, needs a holistic understanding.

The next step is to establish the stage of maturity a company is at with respect to its digital transformation. The IHCI initiative is an excellent initiative to do this. Once there is a deep enough subject matter knowledge, then an I4.0 roadmap and strategy can be articulated.

This then lends itself to better decision making, using less dollars to achieve more. The I4.0 Roadmap will enable a company to articulate what, when, and how to automate and use technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. My last advice to aspiring companies is to identify the right external resources to help guide you. This is part of the learning journey.

The Industry 4.0 Human Capital Initiative (IHCI) – Come Join Us!
IHCI strengthens manufacturing companies’ operational and human capital capabilities to successfully implement and scale Industry 4.0 (i4.0) for business transformation. Jointly developed by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Workforce Singapore (WSG), the programme aims to encourage companies to embrace their i4.0 journey by taking a holistic approach covering business, technology, and organisation. To access the IHCI self-help portal for an array of complimentary i4.0 and human capital resources, log on to https://ihci.sbf.org.sg/self-help-portal. If you are thinking of accelerating your i4.0 journey, you may read up more on the IHCI Enabler programme by logging on to https://ihci.sbf.org.sg/enabler-programme to register for a free session with SBF and our appointed consultants from McKinsey and EY.