2017-03-01

Asia is diversity

If Ching Pong Quek were to describe the Asia-Pacific region - KION APAC - in a single word, it would be ‘diverse’. “The economic situation, the market, customer requirements, the culture and the languages are incredibly varied here,” notes Quek, who is President of the KION APAC operating unit and a member of the KION Executive Board. The same goes for the intralogistics industry where KION operates. In APAC, there is a demand for every level of quality - from premium technology down to low-cost solutions in the economy segment. “The market potential varies enormously,” he says, referring to the disparity in the market penetration of industrial trucks. “In Singapore, there are 1,000 trucks for every million people. In Australia, there are 700, while in China 200 and in India, just ten.” These numbers reflect not least the very different development stages in each country. This, in turn, results in highly diverse customer requirements because warehouses in the emerging markets adopt different levels of technology.

Yet, we are seeing rapid advancements in digitalization everywhere: with big data and cloud computing, and e-commerce, which is rapidly growing in China. Throughout the region, it is quite clear that there is a growing demand for electric industrial trucks and warehouse technology, and companies – particularly in countries where wages are higher – are increasingly automating their operations. Though the latter may not yet be a priority in some markets such as India and parts of South East Asia, a broader offering is becoming much more important to meet customer needs in these countries as well. As Quek says, what was previously more specialized in terms of applications for individual warehouse trucks are now much broader today.

"If you cannot change, you will find yourself lagging behind."


Quek Ching Pong

President, KION APAC and KION Board member

KION is well equipped for this diverse global marketplace. “Another aspect of the APAC region is that we have so many brands here,” says Quek. KION operates with multiple brands in the larger markets, with Linde, Baoli and STILL in China. Similarly, KION India now offers three brands, with trucks from Baoli and Linde along with local brand OM.

Each of these brands has to respond in their own way to the changes that are brought about by the market trends in different countries. But the Malaysian-born Ching Pong Quek is not fazed by change. Far from it. “I like change,” he says emphatically. For him, change is synonymous with opportunity, and he believes change to be inevitable. “If you cannot change, you end up lagging behind. But when you accept change, you will make progress.”

In his view, it is important to use these changes to offer customers new business options. Examples include electric forklifts in the cost-effective Smart Line range, soon to be produced at Linde in the Chinese city of Xiamen, or transport systems without operators, which, according to Quek, are currently high in demand in Hong Kong and Singapore. “AGVs are still being imported, but we are working on localizing them here.”

The production landscape is also undergoing change, says Quek. “Everyone used to build everything themselves, whereas today we must prioritize our resources and outsource certain things. Your competitor can suddenly become your business partner. You can design the product yourself, oversee production at a licensee and carry out quality control by yourself.” Linde China is currently having some of its entry-level electric warehouse trucks manufactured by a licensee. “We would never have done that in the past.” But today it is an accepted practice and has proven to be effective.

"Today we must prioritize our resources and outsource certain things. Your competitor can suddenly become your business partner."


Quek Ching Pong

President, KION APAC and KION Board member

Quek believes it is his role to guide employees and inspire them with the changes that are happening. “I enjoy seeing how they develop in their jobs,” he says. The 49-year-old regularly walks through every corner in the company to meet employees face-to-face and to discuss specific topics, focusing on different areas every time. “I reject the argument that there is no time for such activitiess. The employees in the frontline are the first to identify any potential problems and most probably have solutions as well.”

Quek is always on the move. In his free time, he enjoys running and takes a long run up to four times a week. “In Xiamen, I always run between 8 to 15 kilometres, depending on time available. I set off from home and run by the sea as far as the university. Running clears my head and then I can find solutions to many problems. It works wherever I am traveling around the world," he points out. Needless to say, Quek has also discovered the best running routes in the German city of Wiesbaden, where KION Group is headquartered.

Gallery

KION APAC - President CP Quek

“A flexible mindset is crucial”

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