Seng Hua Hng uses the IMPACT assessment as a foundation to improve productivity and grow Camel Nuts into an international brand. “When people buy nut snacks anywhere in the world, we want them to think of Camel Nuts” – this is the vision set by Mr Poh Ah Seng, Managing Director of Seng Hua Hng Foodstuff Pte Ltd, which owns the brand. A leading household name in Singapore, Camel Nuts is distributed to hotels, food service outlets, major retailers and international airlines. Its extensive range of products – from premium nuts to flavoured peas and beans – is also exported to the Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe, Africa and Canada. “As we expand into new markets, we need more efficient systems and processes to meet our customers’ needs. Productivity is key to our growth,” Mr Poh says.

To understand its productivity performance, Seng Hua Hng used SPRING Singapore’s Integrated Management of Productivity Activities (IMPACT) assessment tool. “In a nutshell, it showed us how productive we are, where we have done well and what we can do to improve,” shares Mr Poh as he relates the company’s experiences and takeaways from the assessment. Through 10 key productivity indicators, the assessment tracked Seng Hua Hng’s productivity performance over 3 years. The company noted encouraging trends; for instance, labour productivity or value added (VA) per worker increased 3% from 2008 to 2010. “This confirms that we are going in the right direction,” Mr Poh remarks. The IMPACT assessment also reviewed the state of productivity management in Seng Hua Hng and its effectiveness in enhancing productivity. One major highlight of the assessment’s results was Seng Hua Hng’s strength in its manpower management system – it found that the company deploys labour efficiently. “Our employees have multiple skills, so we can deploy them to different production lines in response to customer requests or market changes. This enables us to optimize resources and stay nimble,” shares Mr Damien Tong, Human Resource and Administration Manager. “We now understand that this also contributes to higher productivity.”

The assessment was rounded up with recommendations for further productivity improvement. Seng Hua Hng received advice from its IMPACT consultant on linking performance and rewards to motivate its employees to work towards the company’s goals. “We did a trial run with 4 departments where salary increments and rewards were tied to productivity indicators such as customer complaints, internal quality, machine cycle time and sales. We observed that staff became more enthusiastic in meeting targets, so we will be introducing this company-wide next year,” says Mr Tong. As part of its five-year strategic plan, Seng Hua Hng intends to look into the remaining recommendations, such as:
• improving its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system
• implementing lean manufacturing projects
• standardising its products
• fully automating its production line
Mr Poh encourages other SMEs to go through a productivity diagnosis. “It helps to understand where the company stands. This knowledge lays the foundation for future strategies and plans. In our case, the IMPACT assessment provided a framework for management and employees to work together and improve productivity on a common platform.