What role does Giga Car Terminals play in the overall group?

HO: Basically, our main role is to link the supply chain connecting land and sea logistics. One example is our group's Malaysian Domestic Business, also called MDB service, plying between Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia.

As a vehicle transit center, we actually prepare, store, and organize the vehicles in our yard before they are being loaded or being collected by the consignees respectively. We also have PDI facilities for our customers to carry out accessories fitment, as well as pre-delivery inspection before the cars are being collected or being shipped out. We also do stevedoring. We engage stevedores who are actually the people who are loading and discharging vehicles on ro-ro vessels.

We are based in Westports. We're operating four yards within Westports, which has a total area measuring up to about 45 acres. This can service roughly about 9,000 to 10,000 vehicles at any one time. Our yards are strategically located not too far from the berth, within a 500 meter radius from the berth, and we are not too far from the wharf. As far as our business, we will provide our customers a transit center so that they can temporarily store their cars in the port whilst they are preparing the documentation for import or export and vice versa.

What kind of capacity can you handle today?

HO: Since we started operations in January 2008, our annual throughput then was in the region of 110,000 units per year. In 2009, due to the Asian financial crisis, our throughput dropped to about 96,000 units. But since 2010, we have seen an annual growth of about 6,000 to 8,000 units per year. And as of this year, we hope we can achieve something around 135,000 units.

Can you give an overview of the technology used at Giga Car Terminals?

HO: From the time we receive the vehicles, we are using the latest information technology; using barcode scanning. This will provide exact timing and movement of the vehicles from the time of receipt until the time the car is being loaded on the boat. With this real-time information, it is very handy for our operations because it tells you the exact information, up-to-date information, and what you need to do next. You can then predict and also plan easily. I mean not easily but better, better planning in the sense that you already know what you have achieved and what is the balance of number of cars to be loaded and when are you going to complete the operation. And if there is anything lacking, then we can take corrective actions immediately.

This real-time information is actually very handy for our customers too. Whatever reports that they require to know about the vehicles, about their cars, how long the cars have stayed in a port, how much these other charges. So this system can readily provide all this information.

We have engaged a new IT vendor who is actually working now to integrate all our companies together so that there will be no double work or repetition. Then all this information can be easily available in our group of companies, as it is web based, by anyone as far as reporting is concerned. We can always allow access to our customers to actually view what's happening to their cars from point A to the destination, from the shipper's yards to the destination.

What kinds of adjustments do you have to make to your fleet as changes are made in automobiles?

HO: Of course, currently, with the limitation of the trucks, they are actually built to the maximum dimensions allowed on the road right now. Of course, cars, passenger cars, saloon cars will not be as big as what we see today. There may be some modifications, some kind of additional access fees or the shape and size of the vehicle may vary a little bit, but the truck dimension I think should be able to cater for normal cars.

However, we have some constraints under the clearance above the road. It means cars are nowadays built lower in the sense that they look more sporty. So with that lower undercarriage and the skirting, it will be very difficult for the cars to go up the ramp onto the truck without damaging the bottom of the car. So we need to reduce the inclination of the ram and this is a challenge.

What trends do you see taking place in the Malaysian automotive sector?

HO: In terms of the terminal in the port, we have heard that the government is encouraging more CKDs and more local assemblies for the domestic market, of course, as well as some exports to neighboring countries as well. Local assembled cars are being exported out from Malaysia too and there's some steady increase on that. We are basically handling CBU cars. So if the number of CBU units is reduced because there's an increase on CKDs, then there will be a downtrend in the number of cars in the port, CBU cars.

However, I think the manufacturers are still more inclined to import CBU cars from Thailand or from Indonesia due to the ASEAN FTA agreement. With that, we have to be ready actually to expand or to be ready for this reduction by looking into maybe trans-shipment. We have to do more trans-shipment. For example, in Singapore, there is more trans-shipment than for domestic import. So with that, then there's a balance. We can then grow from that.

What are your future goals for Giga Car Terminals?

HO: As I mentioned just now, I think future goals for Giga Car Terminal will be to actually be ahead of the industry as well as to be the major port in Malaysia to handle vehicles for either domestic or for trans-shipment. We have not done too much trans-shipment at the moment. So the future thing that we should be concentrating on will be to handle more trans-shipment via Port Klang to other countries.