Fastest growing companies 2020: Tanker firm sails ahead by investing in digitalisation, innovation

Sinanju Tankers' liquefied natural gas-powered bunker tanker, the first of its kind in Singapore, will start operations soon. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SINANJU TANKERS

A ship company might look old-school among Singapore's tech high-fliers but Sinanju Tankers Holdings set a course for success some years back and has now sailed into the premier league of local firms.

The company, which recorded a compound annual growth rate of 237.3 per cent from 2015 to 2018, has ranked second on the list of Singapore's fastest-growing enterprises compiled by The Straits Times and global research company Statista.

It has been quite a voyage for the firm, which started with just three office staff and eight crew members operating a wooden bunker barge in 1992.

It now has 30 office staff and about 260 crew members, and manages 14 double-hulled bunker tankers, including a liquefied natural gas-powered bunker tanker that was delivered on Monday.

The vessel - the first of its kind here - starts operations soon.

Founder and managing director Ju Kai Meng said: "Being steadfast in carrying out our operations with utmost integrity, reliability and safety has guided Sinanju to what it is today.

"But what I am most grateful for is my management team who have passionately devoted themselves to strategise and drive Sinanju's every milestone and accomplishments with me."

The company comprises a group of ship-owning businesses, including Sinanju Logistics Services, the operating arm of its fleet of 14 bunker tankers; Sinanju Tankers, which provides technical management for these vessels; and local bunkering firm Sinanju Marine Services.

Mr Ju said investing in infrastructure and growing expertise are vital, alongside exploring new technology and innovation to increase productivity.

He said: "Besides our active participation in industry standards committees and work groups on bunkering-related matters, we also volunteer our bunker tankers for test-bedding of new technology.

"Sinanju is also closely monitoring the start-up ecosystem for innovative solutions. To this end, Sinanju has signed on with a homegrown maritime solutions start-up for its Web-based platform to optimise the scheduling of its bunker tanker fleet.

"The collaboration further plans to leverage the data to automate reports, obtain trend analysis and issue electronic bunker delivery notes."

His advice to other businesses is to keep evolving and analysing business models to ensure they are ahead of their industries.

"Be bold to invest in digitalisation and innovation. It is likely that your staff may be resistant to change, but when productivity gains kick in and replace manual work, your staff will thank you for it," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline Tanker firm sails ahead by investing in digitalisation, innovation. Subscribe