Revolutionising Pallet Design

This article first appeared in SIMTech's Publication

Ms May Yap- Chairwoman and CEO- LHT Holdings Limited
Ms May Yap- Chairwoman and CEO- LHT Holdings Limited

Since 2008- SIMTech has supported pallet manufacturer LHT Holdings to improve its processes and upgrade its capabilities

Listed on the Singapore Exchange- LHT Holdings manufactures and supplies wooden pallets and cases to its customers for the packing of industrial products. It also trades raw timber-related products and manufactures its proprietary technical wood. In addition- it rents pallets to businesses.

In search of a better solution for pallet design- LHT Holdings’ Chairwoman and CEO May Yap approached SIMTech for assistance. “As an SME- our resources are limited and there is no capacity to set up a large-scale R&D team to innovate for us. If we were to set up our own team- we would also have to spend time training the staff on the timber business. But with SIMTech- the researchers already have the knowledge and experience-” she said.

In 2014- SIMTech helped LHT develop a 3D system to automate pallet and crate design. A key feature of the system is that it reduces design time by 50 per cent. “People who are not in this line think that designing a pallet is just about drawing it out- but what they do not know is that the dimensions and material used must be able to withstand the load it carries. At the same time- the design must also take into consideration the mode of transportation-” explained Ms Yap. With this in mind- SIMTech researcher Dr Song Bin and the project team included features in the design system that enabled LHT to accurately calculate the amount of pressure a pallet can withstand- as well as the amount of material needed. Dr Song said: “The idea was to design a system that not only addresses LHT’s current needs- but also to pre-empt any future needs of the business.”

Ms Yap also recalled sketching drafts of wooden pallets on pieces of paper at client meetings in the past. “At that time- the only pallet design software available was from the United States. When we approached the people who designed the software- they mistakenly thought we were a company based in China and did not want to license the software to us for fear we would copy it-” she recounted.

Revolutionising Pallet Design

“SIMTech provided us with a system that enables us to be ahead of the game in our industry. With our drawings on paper- everything was two-dimensional and it looked messy after corrections were made and we had to present it to our customers. With this system- it is knowledge-driven- three-dimensional and professional.

“And when you need to make edits on the go- this technology gives you the opportunity to store and share your work quickly-” added Ms Yap.

SIMTech provided us with a system that enables us to be ahead of the game in our industry.

Ms May Yap- Chairwoman and CEO- LHT Holdings Limited

A Track Record of Innovation

LHT has been working with SIMTech since 2008 on a range of projects. Ms Yap learnt about the research institute at a precision engineering seminar organised by Spring Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore). Since then- she has been encouraging her fellow SMEs to tap the resources and expertise of SIMTech.

She said: “I want to leverage SIMTech’s expertise for as long as I can. We have a very good working relationship. Its staff are always a call away and the researchers who work with us are very committed and have a good understanding of our business. The best part is that the same researchers have been working with us for a decade.”

Dr Song and another SIMTech researcher- Mr Ao Yin Tai- were previously involved in helping LHT develop an Event-driven Business Process Management (EDBPM) system in 2012 that manages and streamlines end-to-end pallet manufacturing processes such as orders- deliveries and inventories.

Mr Ao Yin Tai- Principal Research Engineer
LEFT TO RIGHT: Mr Ao Yin Tai- Principal Research Engineer- SIMTech; Ms May Yap- Chairwoman and CEO- LHT Holdings; Dr Song Bin- Senior Scientist- SIMTech; and Dr Tran Le Quan Noc- Scientist- SIMTech


LHT Holdings has benefited from working with SIMTech on the following projects:

  • RFID PALLET LEASING & TRACKING SYSTEM Productivity gains from the implementation amounted to annual savings of over $50-000 for the company and around $375-000 for its clients
  • RAW MATERIALS MANAGEMENT SYSTEM This integrated system helped LHT to reduce raw materials inventory by 15 per cent and lower its operational

LHT has also worked with SIMTech through the Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up) programme. This is a platform that directly assists SMEs to innovate and develop new capabilities and knowledge to increase their productivity and competitiveness.

Under this programme- Mr Ao was seconded to LHT for 10 months in 2014 and 2015. During this time- he carried out product life cycle assessment and identified areas of improvement for the company. He also helped to develop a raw materials management system that can be integrated with EDBPM to reduce the inventory of raw materials by 15 per cent and lower the company’s operational costs by $130-000.

Most recently in 2017- LHT worked with Model Factory@SIMTech to re-engineer its existing pallet assembly line and to deploy a smart and sustainable pallet assembly line as part of its growth plans. Model Factory@SIMTech is a live production facility that provides a platform for manufacturers to learn and experiment with new digital solutions.

The way Ms Yap sees it- SMEs must be prepared to work openly with SIMTech to benefit from the collaboration. “Singapore is probably one of the few countries in the world where the Government provides such support to SMEs. To make the most of your collaboration- you need to be forward-looking and willing to take risks.

Revolutionising Pallet Design - Trusting professionals from SIMTech

“You need to trust the professionals from SIMTech and have open discussions with them so that you can innovate together.”