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Catalysing industrial parks with sustainable logistics hubs

PKT Logistics’s RM200mil One Northern Hub in Bukit Kayu Hitam near the Malaysian-Thai border comprises a rest and relax centre, logistics and maritime institute, warehouse spaces and an inland port.

Containers, trucks and warehouses may be standard set components in a logistics company, but for home-grown PKT Logistics Group, you’ll find facilities like a comfortable truckers’ lounge, food court and green spaces a staple in all its logistics hub.

“For us, moving goods accurately to their destination is only a baseline requirement,” said group chief executive officer and managing director Datuk Seri Dr Michael Tio.

“Our ultimate mission is to be a socially responsible company. That means creating an enjoyable work place for our staff, taking care of the environment and sharing our success with the community.”

Based in Shah Alam, PKT was a humble family business founded nearly 50 years ago. Since Tio took over the business from his father, he has transformed the operations from merely transporting goods to the present model – building sustainable logistics hubs that bring together logistics solutions, education, food and beverage, lifestyle and a talent ecosystem.

Take its newly completed One Auto Hub in Penang for example.

Located in the heart of Batu Kawan Industrial Park (BKIP), the hub consists of FIABCI Award winning warehouse The 12 Waves, The Ship Campus where its education subsidiary Peninsula College Malaysia is headquartered, and a student residence.

‘Our ultimate mission is to be a socially responsible company. That means creating an enjoyable work place for our staff, taking care of the environment and sharing our success with the community,’ says Tio.

Tio’s out-of-the-box approach towards a traditional sector has turned the company into a sought-after catalyst in new developments. “PKT is usually the first to enter a new development and others follow. Our concept hubs boost investors’ confidence in the location,” he said.

Human touch among machines

Tio said that BKIP is brimming with potential as local and foreign investors are flocking there to set up their plants.

While the obvious demand is in warehouse spaces, that is just a small part of the investors’ checklist when deciding where to put their money, he said.

“After all, factories and machines are manned by humans,” he highlighted.

For investors, ensuring a steady talent pipeline is key to keeping businesses up and running – and that means being able attract, train and upskill their employees.

One Auto Hub brings together logistics solutions, education, food and beverage, lifestyle and a talent ecosystem to the up-and-coming Batu Kawan Industrial Park in Penang,

Similarly, high-quality talents demand for career advancement and a comfortable living environment.

“Our hubs bring a human touch to industrial parks. Employees are not robots. People want a nice place to dine, work out at the gym, socialise or learn a skill, but if all these amenities are not in the vicinity, living conditions become less attractive.

“How then would everyone in the industrial park keep their talents?” he pointed out.

Therefore, the group is not stopping at running a logistics business, but is also determined to create a talent eco-system as part of its efforts to make BKIP a vibrant place for work and study.

“We already have an established college. Now we are building a skills training centre equipped to deliver the IR4.0 solution syllabus certified by Bosch Rexroth.”

Spurring economic growth up north

Meanwhile, up north in Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah, the group has invested RM200mil to build One Northern Hub, slated for completion in the first half of 2023.

This hub consists of the Blackwood Complex, Blackwood Forest and an inland port that aims to receive business from southern Thailand.

Blackwood House’s architecture is modelled after the climatic feature of a Malay kampung house or Rumah Tiang 12 to be exact.

The entire complex provides parking spaces for Thai-bound visitors, a rest and relaxation centre, logistics and maritime institute as well as office spaces and residences.

Blackwood Forest is a logistics hub that provides warehousing services.

“We could have just used the land to build only warehouses,” said Tio.

“But with a concept hub, we add value to the plot of land by creating business, employment and education opportunities.

“This spurs economic activities in the area and improves the community’s income level. The projected GDP impact is up to RM843mil per annum.”

The group also took in public feedback and added two multi-storey carparks for people to commute between the Malaysian-Thai border.

Since the announcement of this project, rubber glove giant Hartalega has also invested RM7bil to build 16 manufacturing facilities next to One Northern Hub, a move that can transform the Kota Perdana Special Border Economic Zone (SBEZ) into a vibrant industrial and commercial hub.

Asean’s next logistics hub

While PKT has made it big in the country, it is vying for more prominence in the regional logistics market.

“If Malaysian players can raise its standards in terms of infrastructure, skilled labour, sustainability awareness and become more IR4.0 ready, we are capable of becoming Asean’s next logistics hub,” said Tio

Using Singapore as a benchmark, Tio pointed out that logisticians in the island state earn five times more than those in Malaysia as they manage higher value logistics.

“For Malaysia to move beyond 3PL, we need to professionalise the industry and move up the value chain by doing 4PL, 5PL, 6PL and even 7PL.”

With the vision to expand, Tio is leading the way in changing public perception towards the logistics sector in hopes that more young people see it as a prospective career choice.

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