Taking the Load Off at Soon Seng Huat
Words by Hoe Ziqian

For a 65-year-old local brand specialising in the trade and distribution of foodstuff and confectionery, Soon Seng Huat proves that the best solution does not always have to be the most complicated.

Soon Seng Huat (Singapore) Private Limited was established as a sole proprietorship in June 1956 and incorporated as a company since December 1983. The company specialises in the import and sales of Japanese dry food, chilled & frozen products, ice-cream, liquors, as well as Taiwanese and various Asian food products. They are also the exclusive importer & distributor of Wakodo, Japan’s No. 1 baby food brand specialising in baby food and milk formula.
And their clients run the gamut—from major departmental stores, specialty food shops, and supermarkets; to mini-markets, convenience stores, hotels, restaurants and online channels. They even export their products to neighbouring countries.
Poised to celebrate its 65thanniversary in 2021, Soon Seng Huat has grown over the years to become an importer, exporter, manufacturer representative, and distributor for a large variety of Japanese food and confectionery. The company prides itself in its ability to work closely with its partners and customers to understand the latest consumer trends and find ways to fulfil the ever-changing tastes and preferences.

Soon Seng Huat has been delighting its customers with its diverse range of products since 1956 and is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2021 (Image courtesy of Soon Seng Huat)

It comes as no surprise that logistics is critical to Soon Seng Huat’s daily operations. A large proportion of its warehouse personnel are made up of older workers and given the nature of their daily work in loading and unloading the delivery trucks, the company decided it was time for an investment to safeguard the well-being of their older workers.

In a bid to reduce the burden on their older workers and improve overall process efficiency, Soon Seng Huat decided to partner with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) on the WorkPro Job Redesign initiative through the implementation of the insulated box with refrigeration system, as well as the tailgate, which is basically a mechanical device installed on the rear of the delivery truck to facilitate the loading of goods from ground level to the level of the vehicle bed.
Previously, Soon Seng Huat’s delivery fleet comprised old and uncalibrated temperature trucks. As such, the older workers in their workforce would have to store the finished products in the warehouse freezers and are required to report to work early each day to load the stock for delivery onto these trucks. The design of the trucks also proved to be an issue, as the limited height clearance meant that these older workers are constantly required to bend and lower their bodies while carrying the goods.

Soon Seng Huat’s delivery fleet is now equipped with the insulated box with refrigeration system (Image courtesy of Soon Seng Huat)

As the loading and unloading of goods per delivery was done manually by the older workers, this made it a physically straining and ultimately time-consuming process. With a high volume of deliveries to cover on a daily basis, this would invariably take its toll on the older workers, exposing the company to the risk of work-related injuries.

Now that the insulated box with refrigeration system and tailgate are installed at the back of the trucks, the workers are able to load the products directly onto the trucks without having to first retrieve them from the freezer and rushing to reload onto the truck before delivery. The increased height of trucks also makes the loading of goods easier and safer for older workers as they no longer need to keep straining their bodies during the course of their work.

The tailgate system has made the loading and unloading of goods much easier for the Soon Seng Huat logistics team (Image courtesy of Soon Seng Huat)

The tailgate system also eliminates the needs for any manual labour as the pallets of goods can be lifted to truck level easily with the push of a button. This results in significantly lesser man hours as the workers can now load more items at one go. In fact, they no longer need to rush to work earlier just to load up all goods into truck in time for the day’s delivery run.

The implementation of the insulated box with refrigeration system and tailgate has helped Soon Seng Huat reduce man hours by 30% and made the work processes easier and safer for their older workers. The company has committed to share the productivity gain with the eight impacted older workers through a pay increment.

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