POS Aviation – Flight Into Tomorrow

Pos Aviation Malaysia tells us how they are using technology to bring new talent into their while providing the highest quality service. Pos Aviation Malaysia was founded on the 9th of February 1995, as an independent ground handler, cargo handler, aircraft maintenance and engineering and in-flight catering provider. The company first began serving customers when it commenced full operations at KL International Airport on 30th of June 1998.

From that day onwards, Pos Aviation Malaysia has been a proudly independent company. “We are basically an independent ground handler which means we’re not owned by any airline or airport and can treat all customers equally,” explains Woo Kam Weng, the CEO of the ground handling company. “We customise the product according to each customers’ requirements. If you are served by an airline-owned handler they have procedures they can’t customise, but we are able to customise to meet all requirements. Our portfolio includes low-cost carriers, full legacy carriers, and we meet all of their requirements with our bespoke services.”

That flexibility, and adaptability, is proving ever more essential, as we live in changing times. Talking to Mr Woo it becomes clear that Pos Aviation is facing challenges brought on by political and demographic changes in Malaysia, but the business is adapting to face those changes.

“The biggest challenge at the moment is manpower,” Mr Woo says simply. “Labour costs are increasing since the government has imposed minimum wages to improve the earnings of the labour force. At the same time, unfortunately in the ground handling arena where people work 24/7, 365 days a year in the rain and the sun, the younger people do not enjoy such work and we need to find ways to attract more people who are Millennials and Generation Z.”

In order to address this challenge, Pos Aviation is taking a two-pronged approach that includes looking at the way they engage their employees, and the tools their employees have access to.

“We’re addressing the issue in several ways,” Mr Woo says. “One is that we must be funkier in terms of becoming an organisation where we engage young people more. We have events and engagement with activities together, bowling events, an annual dinner, giving out special certificates of recognition during assembly, and after assembly, we do exercises and line dancing so young people enjoy it better.”

As well as working to build a better employee experience, Pos Aviation is turning to technological solutions to empower their staff. “We’re also using technology. Youngsters look at their phones more, so there are a lot of application that they use on their phone that can make their work processes and job more efficient,” Mr Woo says. “If they have encountered operational challenges,  E-learning has AI that lets them type in a question to get a solution.”

As well as engaging and empowering their staff, Pos Aviation is also prepared for the fact that the work they’re engaged in necessitates a certain amount of turnover. “We have to live with the fact that there will be turnover,” Mr Woo admits. “As long as we have a good training module and can replace people as they leave, we can live with that.”

Pos Aviation has also been working hard to ensure its people have access to the best technology and tools, and this goes far beyond the range of helpful phone apps staff have access to.

“We have gone onto a new cargo handling system that has improved our productivity by about 20% and reduced the discrepancy in handling by something like 75%,” Mr Woo says. “We have also put in new equipment. Now we do not maintain our own equipment, we have outsourced it to managed services and engaged someone to manage the equipment and make it accessible to us at 90% availability. We also have a training simulator for ground support equipment with a full 360-degree view with motion and visual.”

This investment in technology is something that Mr Woo believes will become ever more essential as times goes. “We see automation increasing as technology advances,” he says. “There will be greater IoT connectivity. Ultimately, I think the new industrial revolution 4.0 is the way forward, where technology and machines will replace human skills and human man-hours. But we will still have to retain the element of customer service and that needs to be sharpened.”

Staying ahead of that curve is an important priority for Pos Aviation, and even now they are working hard not only to make sure it finds and applies the latest innovations but also that it ensures its staff are familiar and comfortable with that new technology.

“We are not staying still; we are embarking on new projects. I have a strategy and innovation team. The oldest member of the team is 27 years old,” Mr Woo tells us. “They are young people and they can evolve these ideas in how to move forward. We have “InnoAviation Day”, where we look at new technologies like AI and AR so staff are exposed to those elements, and we also have a Hackhaton Event where we provide problem statements for young people to come up with solutions. In developing all these products, we develop new revenue streams such as e-commerce. We are operating in the digital free trade zone in Kuala Lumpur. It’s a regional e-commerce distribution hub for players like Alibaba and Shoppee. It’s a new area we’re embarking on.”

However, technology is not the be-all and end-all, and Mr Woo is adamant that there are some areas where you need a human touch to succeed. “Right now we’re concentrating on the soft skill side, giving training to our people,” he explains. “We also go into soft skills, where people need to understand their own emotional make-up and how they can make better decisions and deliver a
better service level.”

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