Digital transformation is a must to enable Alliance Contract Manufacturing Sdn. Bhd. (ACM) to scale up and be agile, according to its Chief Information Officer, Erik Looi Thong Chin.
“The digital domain is borderless and has limitless possibilities. We recognised Information Technology (IT) as the business enabler at a very early stage; of course, IT is naturally a starting point for digital transformations,” said Looi.
“However, transformation is not purely technology-based; it includes processes and people as well. The transformation of our workforce and their mind-set is a critical part of digital transformation that is often overlooked,” he added.
Established in 1998, Penang-based ACM’s core business is in the areas of precision machining, systems assembly, and sheet metal manufacturing, with 800 employees across Asia and Europe. ACM’s innovations and ventures into emerging technologies include additive manufacturing, electric vehicles, life sciences, and robotics.
As Looi explained at the Asian Innovators’ Summit organised by SAP in Kuala Lumpur last quarter, venturing into innovation prototyping and ACM’s own product manufacturing has made managing its business even more challenging.
“B2C is a new area of business from our traditional B2B customers. ACM needs to transform the speed of our business, coming up with new business processes, and new ways of interacting with our customers and partners. The adoption of the Industry 4.0 (I4.0) framework can accelerate this transformation. We need to be ready for business opportunities that do not even exist yet!”
Realising that this was not a lone journey, ACM selected SAP as its trusted partner in its quest to become an “intelligent enterprise”.
“ACM’s I4.0 Initiative was set up in August 2017 with SAP’s role being key. This was not the typical vendor engagement to roll out digital products. Instead, our selected partners are part of ACM’s digital transformation journey. We collaborate, try out ideas, and create and execute in an actual manufacturing environment.”
ACM started using SAP 4.6C, then moved on to ECC6 (2008), subsequently to HANA DB (2014), Simple Finance (sFIN, 2015) and S/4HANA (2018). Looi pointed out that ACM’s investment in SAP products was viewed strategically.
“The intelligent suite of applications and platform from SAP is ‘future ready’ and helps enterprises like ACM quickly adopt advanced technologies while also enabling us to scale,” he said.
“The solutions implemented so far have positively impacted all business functions throughout the value chain for ACM. SAP provides best-in-class business processes built-in and fully documented. As a growing company with a big vision, working with SAP gives us confidence. Establishing business processes from the start on a world-class platform builds confidence to our customers too, and continues to do so,” Looi explained.
Over the past year, ACM had changed how it managed its business through new business designs, as well as more intuitive user interfaces and experiences in a live manner.
“ACM continues to evolve with SAP and we welcome the transition of R/3 to S/4, which is pretty radical. With our new business design, our employees are more focused on the business, rather than which transaction and operational steps that needs to be executed. They are more pro-active through insights, and assistance in their decision making from the system.
“The retooled user experience allows us to work more with information and less with data, with analytics and an intuitive presentation of information. At the same time, this information is presented live. Because ACM operates globally like a single manufacturing concern, being able to know the status of our business globally in real-time is priceless.”
Looi noted that on premise, hybrid, cloud, cloud platform, cloud services, and connectivity options allow ACM to continue to advance and grow on SAP.
“We work on ACM’s business needs with SAP on the various options we have at our disposal. There is no end to innovations,” said Looi.
“Because of our move to our own products manufacturing aside from OEM manufacturing, and we are now faced with building end-consumer interactions, ACM is now dealing with an even larger customer base, as well as R&D collaborations.
“We are building a platform that enables these interactions, providing better customer experiences and more effective collaborations with our partners. The digital domain is borderless, so the world is our marketplace!”