Global 2021: Most Innovative Sustainable IPPC Pest-Free Pallet Manufacturer

Pallets

After decades of developing innovations that would change the way its sector handles timber recycling for good, LHT Holdings has created and is continuing to create some of the most exemplary developments in its industry.

LHT Holdings Ltd is timber recycling, reconstruction, and sales company that has more than 40 years of experience in its industry. It has spent this time developing its services and becoming a front-runner in all aspects of its operation, going from a small start-up in 1977 to the largest manufacturing company of unscrupulous quality wooden packaging in Singapore. Its products include wooden pallets, boxes, and crates, and at present its staff stand at 180 people strong, skilled in maintaining all aspects of its business. LHT Holdings Ltd also has a myriad of other services that it has branched out into since its inception. Nowadays, it also trades in raw timber, serving other members of its industry with products that are up to its rigorous standards. It also offers the manufacture and sale of technical wood for use in flooring, for example, with a wood waste collection service that allows it to handle many of its operations in-house without the need for outsourcing.

It also rents both pallets and warehouses out to its clients, acting as a commissions agent where relevant to enhance and bolster the shipping industry in its region. One of its most notable landmark events took place in 1999, when it installed the first recycling plant that is timber specific in its region. A first for Singapore, the plant’s purpose is to recycle timber waste into ‘new wood’, or 100mm x 3.6 metre compressed and engineered planks. It trademarked the resulting product as ‘technical wood’, and it is a service that has brought the company even greater notoriety in its industry. The benefit to this product is that it turns wood waste that would otherwise be headed for waste disposal into a usable form once again, negating the need for more fresh trees to be chopped down. More than 4500 trees annually remain standing because LHT Holdings’ clients are using its ‘technical wood’ instead of requesting more fresh timber to be brought in.

In this way, the company has developed a staunch belief in environmental corporate responsibility that it hopes to instil in its clients and stakeholders. LHT Holdings is a publicly listed company; and with all its considerable experience, it has grown into a true titan of industry with a significant amount of weight behind it in the sector. It has a turnover of over $40,000,000 per annum, and it has garnered attention on the world’s stage too due to the scale of its operation and the professionalism with which it conducts its services. Furthermore, its scale of operation is also impressive in the physical sense. With a site of 63,568 square metres and several highly technically advanced facilities that develop, manufacture, and sell its products, it has had to develop rigorous processes to keep everything running smoothly.

Its clients cannot help but be impressed by the efficiency of its work, and the staunch dedication to excellent service that is displayed at every level of its organisation. In 2001, LHT was recognised for its commendable work in its industry with an ISO 14001 certification, in acknowledgement of its environmental management system. This was also a credit that nods to its continued ecologically focused work, and an accolade that the company has used to spur it on towards greater success. This was not the first award to be given to LHT Holdings, of course. It was the recipient of the Enterprise 50 Award in 1995 and 1996 respectively, something that not only garnered it more trust in its industry, but also amplified its voice in the corporate world in the wider sense.

These successes inspired it to work even harder on mitigating negative corporate impact on the environment. Hand in hand with its ongoing waste reduction efforts and working to shine a spotlight on the importance of waste reduction in its industry, it has been upgrading and updating is recycling solution. Within the technical wood production process is an automated system, developed in Germany, that allows it to manufacture technical wood without manual labour. This reduces the cost of this service and increases its efficiency, making it an increasingly appealing solution for its target market. Furthermore, the process that the wood is put through fully treats it. The benefit of this is that the final product is far less prone to cracks, mould, insect attacks, or other forms of degradation with a combination of treatments and drying. All told, the intensity and thorough nature of this process makes for a more reliable product. Its clients often find use for its technical wood in furniture construction, building material, and heavy-duty industrial projects that require sturdiness and an ability to maintain a high quality even in environments of duress.

This innovation has seen it become a household name in a variety of industries other than shipping and fulfilment, and consequentially, it saw exponential growth across the board. The development of the technical wood solution had already been a massively risky move for its business. As with any innovative and trail-blazing move in a sector that is notoriously set in its ways, there is every chance that an investment will provide no returns, proving damaging to the company that tried to implement it. However, LHT Holdings has never been one to shy away from a challenge. After the setup of the technical wood development plant, something that bucked the trend of the over 60-year standard that used purely fresh timber constructed wood for pallets, it made yet another landmark move in 2003. LHT Holdings was the first company to fully do away with the use of natural wood. The replacement of all its fresh timber pallets with the more hygienically sound and sturdier option, technical wood, ended up taking more than 5 years to complete with a gradual ‘phase out’ process. Over the course of this 5-year period was when it truly began to see its work paying off and its clients making the move to technical wood.

Between its innovations and its attitude towards being a responsible company that deploys a ‘tread lightly’ approach to environmental treatment, it has thoroughly set itself apart from its competition. LHT Holdings is a company standing head and shoulders above the rest in this area. Furthermore, its creativity didn’t stop at its recycling methods; it has developed pallets that work with radio frequency identification technology. These pallets work to enhance the productivity of its client’s operations, eliminating the need for unnecessary manpower to catalogue and document information, allowing for more accurate customer verification. RFID technology grants enhanced information accessibility and adds to the reliability of the right goods being delivered to the right place, in the right condition, to the right receiver, at the correct time. The elimination of unnecessary manual labour in this way also functions to save both businesses and their clients time and money.

These technologically enabled pallets use the RFID Warehouse Management System and the Automated Storage and Retrieval System, both of which are constantly being updated and further developed. This is all part of its dedication to keeping itself versatile and competitive – by staying ahead of industrial and technological developments, it can stay ahead of the world’s unstoppable march towards further progress. It has also developed an assembly system that feeds its client’s specifications directly into a central computer, linked to an automated assembly line that assembles pallets according to those specifications. Negating the potential of human error and increasing efficacy across the board, the system is fully computer managed, with products measured and assembled according to weight and good stacking procedure.

With all these centralised and computer-generated procedures in place, it pays the benefits of its upgrades directly back to the client. This is an element of its business model, one among many, that keeps clients coming back time after time. It also has an exceedingly small turnover rate, with the majority of LHT Holdings’ employees having been with the company for more than 40 years, and the business consistently sending its staff for upskilling courses. In this way, it ensures that its personnel as well as its procedures and services, are constantly improving themselves. It also has the added benefit of increasing its team members’ personal development and portfolios, making them all extremely competitive and knowledgeable regarding their work. Unfortunately, as a large SME, its revenue streams don’t allow it to have its own in-house R&D department – however, it partakes in a Government initiative that allows it to make up the deficit. By being a part of ‘The Agency for Science, Technology, and Research’, or A*STAR, it has made itself a part of the mission-oriented research that comes out of it, reaping the rewards accordingly. With the many numerous advances in research this Governmental body makes, LHT Holdings’ own innovations are enhanced by its backing.

It also has a ‘SMART Pallet Department’ that recruits new talents within the fields of technology, design, and software management, focusing on young people with technical and engineering backgrounds. With the collaboration of A*STAR and these fresh voices, this initiative is currently in the middle of transforming its current prevailing operational processes to bring them up to SMART Factory version 4.0 – the latest and greatest. When hiring potential candidates, it seeks people with great leadership qualities who thrive in a high-pressure environment; people with the creativity and drive to become an integral part of serving a dynamic market. It also hires across multiple capabilities and competencies, as it takes many different types of people to maintain its rigorous standards in the macro scale. It hires engineers, logistical talents, production workers, sales and marketing persons, human resources staff, and financially qualified talents.

During the pandemic, LHT Holdings saw significant challenges facing its industry and the world. With borders closing, revenue streams adversely affected, and many clients having to tighten their belts regarding spending, it had a front row seat to the outbreak’s consequences for businesses across a wide cross section. However, even as many of its competitors faced temporary shutdown or even total closure, LHT Holdings persevered, finding that its digitised and automated processes had already rendered much of its business practices totally safe. In this way, it could continue to operate; thus providing its continued support to the world’s economy during a time of tumult for all.

As a concluding word, it can be agreed that this company is a leading mind in both product excellence and environmental attitude. It not only provides its customers with ingenuity and forward-thinking problem-solving solutions, these comes at a relatively low cost, and with very little margin for error. Its decades of experience have not mired it down in the processes of the past, and it instead is forever pushing forward towards a brighter and more advanced future, actively encouraging new voices and ideas to be brought to the table. Consequentially, it has been – and will continue to be – a force for continued modernisation in Singapore and worldwide.

For more information, please contact May Yap at www.lht.com.sg