Exclusive Interview with Douglas Tan, Group Managing Director of ABS.Global and ABS Innovations

Douglas Tan’s Background

Douglas Tan has an extensive career in Business and Management Consulting over the last 25 years, working with more than a hundred multinational and successful companies, assisting them with growth, profit, and productivity improvement projects. He has a degree in Finance and holds an MBA in Quality Operations Management. Douglas is a wannabe “Half-Marathoner”, enjoys vacationing to “destinations less traveled” and is an active member of “Not-For-Profit and Charitable Organisations”.

Douglas is the Group Managing Director of ABS Innovations a company involved with offering comprehensive digital solutions and innovative technologies to directly improve the Yields and Productivity of plantation companies. ABS Innovations approach to driving Yields and Productivity in the palm oil industry focuses on changing operating behaviors through digital transformation. This successful approach has been adopted by many plantation companies with a cumulative total planted area of more than 1.5 million Ha and more than 100 mills, across the Southeast Asia Region.

1. Could you share with us on ABS’ approaches and business strategies in staying through these difficult times due to the pandemic?

The world has been through a shakedown that very few businesses or individuals were prepared for. Fortunately for all of us at ABS, we are a collective of agile and forward-thinking individuals who have found ways to strive and innovate our product offerings in-line with the changing needs of our customers as a result of the changing business environment.

In the current pandemic situation where national and local authorities have imposed various forms of movement restrictions, many customers have found that they have to operate their businesses very differently. Due to restricted traveling and work activities, many companies would require non-traditional ways to operate, such as video conferencing, remote performance monitoring and real-time performance dashboard, visibility of work execution, and autonomous supervision alerts.

Maintenance Supervisor verifying that work orders are closed digitally.

Understanding these needs from our customers, our team very quickly designed and developed specialized digital tools and services to support our customers’ operations requirements, hence providing them with better solutions to operate in these difficult and changing times. ABS has served many companies over the last 10 years, assisting them in their Digital Transformation strategy and journey.

To be quite honest, we have now received many more inquiries about our digital transformation services and digital tools from various businesses, especially plantation companies to assist them in implementing our digital solutions in their operations.

Mill supervisor capturing photo evidence of unusual parameters for immediate action.

2. With labor shortage heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, how does it affect ABS’ market for mill management (MMMP)?

The labor shortage in the oil palm industry, although heightened during COVID-19, has always been a foreseeable challenge for many of our customers in the industry. At ABS we believe that if you can provide your team with the right tools and operational approach to execute the business, then you can rely on a smaller, and more productive team to achieve as much if not greater results.

Our MMMP (Mill Micro Macro Program) presents to the palm oil millers and management an approach to drive yield and productivity, focussing on work behaviors through a digital platform. The MMMP approach that has been adopted by our palm oil mill customers has proven to increase yield and work productivity by providing mobility to the mill workforce aided by seamless information flow and interaction in operations at all organizational levels for timely and better decision making.

Process Supervisor checking & recording VCT oil level digitally with MMMP.

3. Please share with us on ABS’ new products/projects on the yield and productivity improvement in palm oil mills through Digital Transformation. What are the digitalization tools that have been adapted?

principles to drive and manage critical operating behaviors for the following workstreams; Production Floor Management, Maintenance Management, FFB Quality & Grading Management, FFB Supplier Management, Lab & Oil Loss Management. The digital technologies that are deployed for the application of MMMP digital tools, among others are Smart Mobile Phones, GPS, Near-Field Communication, Facial Recognition, Big Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Edge

Devices, and IoT Sensors.