Building The Factory and Supply Chain of the Future

Mr Sudev Bangah, Managing Director, IDC ASEAN


  • Tan Sri Dato’ Soh Thian Lai, President, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM)
  • Dato’ Azman Shah, Chief Executive Officer, Northport (Malaysia) Bhd
  • Krishnan Chelliah, Deputy President, Federation of Malaysian Freight Forwarders
  • Ibrahim Mohd Salleh, Chief Executive Officer, MASKargo

Panel members from Session D discussed the way forward for the manufacturing and logistics industry, as well as the need to prepare in the event of another global crisis.

Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai of Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), believes that both the manufacturing and logistics industry should focus on attracting high technology and value-added investments moving forward. One key area is to correct the industry’s over-dependence on foreign labour. Moving forward, the industry should instead focus more on training and hiring local talents, especially those who completed Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

Dato’ Azman Shah of Northport (Malaysia) Bhd highlighted the importance of building a logistics ecosystem, rather than standalone facilities. When building an industrial park, many things have to be taken into account such as location of factories, and ease of access to warehouses and ports. When a good ecosystem is in place, workflow would be much more efficient, with minimal delays and cost. Connectivity between the different eco-systems such as seaports, airports, land transport, and rail, is also crucial. Dato’ Azman firmly believes that Malaysian ports have an edge over our closest competitors, including Singapore, due to this country’s abundance of land and our state-of-the-art infrastructure.

Adding on to the point about ecosystems, Mr Krishnan Chelliah of Federation of Malaysian Freight Forwarders said the ecosystem must also be high-tech, and stressed that the logistics industry needs to double down on digitalisation and automation, employing robotics in manufacturing, logistics, and other locations. Great ecosystems, paired with digitalisation and automation, will encourage investors to use Malaysia as their transport and logistics hub. Automation would also reduce the demand for labour, thereby reducing our reliance on foreign labour, a point that was echoed by Mr Ibrahim Mohd Salleh of MASKargo.


What should Malaysian manufacturers do to prepare for another black swan event that could throw off a very delicate ecosystem?”- Mr Sudev Bangah

“It is not just about putting up buildings and factories, it is actually about creating an ecosystem and resolving the supply chain’s pain points.”- Dato’ Azman Shah

“In Malaysia, we are currently too dependent on foreign labour. We need to develop our own talent pool.” – Tan Sri Dato’ Soh Thian Lai

“..the solution to reduce an over-reliance on foreign labour is going to be automation and robotics. Malaysia needs to introduce high-tech into the logistics industry to reduce our need for foreign labour.” – Mr. Ibrahim Mohd Salleh

“The logistics and supply chain system has to evolve within the ecosystem. Digitalisation is necessary and should be enhanced.”- Mr. Krishnan Chelliah