Sugarex 2019 was held last September in Khon Kean. During the show Sugar Asia took the opportunity to talk to Ms. Srinual Leethirananon. Samart Kasetyon is a Thai company which is undergoing changes in order to keep up with the developments in the sugar industry.
Sugar Asia: Firstly, thanks for taking time to speak to us. It seems that since 2018 there has been some changes in the way the company presents itself. Why is that?
Khun Srinual: Yeah, well, we have changed our branding statement from SMKY to simply Samart which is the logo you see on our stand. Our company is well known in the industry but many were confused by the duality. Sometimes we used Samart Kaset-Yon Ltd and sometimes SMKY. We think that to focus rather on a strong brand is more effective for our customers and going forward that brand will be Samart.
Sugar Asia: And does the rebranding go deeper than that?
Khun Srinual: Well, in some ways, we are now emphasising our Thai credentials, many people have assumed that we are a dealer and that the machines are produced in China. We attributed that to the fact that we always explained that our factories are in Chainat, but to many foreign ears we were saying China. It’s kind of funny when you think about it. So we announce now that we are from Hankha. The foreigners do not know where that is either, but they know it’s not China!
Sugar Asia: How important is the international market to Samart?
Khun Srinual: Very important, much of our new business is coming in from outside of Thailand. So it is essential that we establish a wider understood international identity for the company. It is no longer sufficient that we as a company sell by word of mouth within national constraints, we simply have to establish a more international presence in order to compete effectively.
Sugar Asia: It seems that your product and in particular your sugar cane harvesters are very successful these days, was that always the case?
Khun Srinual: I don’t know anyone in our industry who can honestly say that they never had problems. When we started out, some of our very early machines fell short of the expectations of the customers involved, but I’m talking more than a decade ago. We revised those and they are still working well even today, but you will always find somebody to tell you stories of disaster, its human nature. I think that you have always to take any criticism and learn from it. We have.
Sugar Asia: How do you view your competitors?
Khun Srinual: Actually I don’t. We have no real competitors as such. As harvesters, our machines are unique in concept whereas the larger OEMs have been producing the same configuration of machine for the last 25 years and spend time copying each other. Whereas our machines develop to the requirement of the customers. So no, I never think about competition.
Sugar Asia: Is the rebranding going to change the actual company at all?
Khun Srinual: Not as such, the rebranding only really impacts on marketing. But as part of that process we are undertaking a program of modernisation. For example, we are moving the company onto a more structured footing. Our model lines will become more defined and provide a basis for production planning. Development will operate separate to the production so as not to disrupt the supply of product to our customers.
Sugar Asia: Is that likely to benefit your customers at all, or is it just another way to divide the labour?
Khun Srinual: Initially customers will see no benefit, but it will allow the production team to streamline a lot of processes. Our production teams now include dedicate production engineers who are involved mainly in new technology, which will cascade down to better, more effective use of our facilities. We are convinced that this will lead to a better product with shortened lead times. Lead time is so critical these days, particularly in the crushing season where each day lost becomes serious money.
Sugar Asia: Does that mean development will suffer?
Khun Srinual: Not at all. Development is part of the DNA of our company. We have serious development on new concepts going on all the time, even now we are developing two entirely new vehicle concepts. It’s just that teams are more autonomous now and set their own priorities.
Sugar Asia: How do you feel about being a woman in a man’s world?
Khun Srinual: I am often asked that, but honestly, I never see it like that. These days there are so many women involved in our industry, even up to government level, that I think it is becoming normal to see females in some management teams. Our customers value competency, and that seems to be more important to them than gender. Frankly. It has never been an issue.
Sugar Asia: Is there anything special for 2020?
Khun Srinual: That’s a tough one, we are moving on so many things at present. We will introduce a new engine family to the machines and our cane grab will be revised to include a total package where everything is new even the base unit. Then of course we will officially launch the Superspeed variant of the big machines during 2020.
Sugar Asia: Did you say that that machine is road going?
Khun Srinual: That’s right. It is aimed at operators who are working with geographically distant cane fields. The machine can be driven between jobs at up to 50 kph. It means that transport between fields no longer requires the machine to be loaded onto a truck. The Superspeed can drive from a work field, onto the highway then directly to the next job. Arriving there can start work immediately; no unloading. This model will definitely interest owners who contract out their services. No truck, no wasted time, less cost!
Sugar Asia: Sound exciting, so we can look forward to seeing changes at next year’s show?
Khun Srinual: Definitely! Things are changing!