Nested in the sleepy town of Muar, Malaysia, Goldinjaya Engineering Trading & Services has come a long way since its founding in 1979.
Standing strong through its 40 years of history, Goldinjaya continues to be one of the country’s leading woodworking machinery manufacturing companies, and one of the oldest. PFA recently paid a visit to its factory and office in Muar and spoke to Ng Jui Keng, executive director and one of the four founders of Goldinjaya.
Ng Jui Keng (right), executive director of Goldinjaya. Standing beside him is Sin Wi Sern, assistant manager who is also Ng’s nephew
It is rare to find woodworking machinery manufacturers in Malaysia like Goldinjaya, that offers a wide range of woodworking machines, not least manufactured in their own local factory.
It is also rare to find woodworking machinery manufacturers in Malaysia that are still devoting a big team for production and servicing. Goldinjaya currently has 60 to 70 employees that are allocated to four main teams: servicing and training, production, project (installation) and marketing.
For Ng, the family business is truly the result of decades of grit, hard work and a lifetime of dedication. “We started the company with only our bare hands. I started working as a repairman when I was 16. When I was 21, in 1979, I started the company with my uncle and two other friends.
We are still partners after all these years and our children are working in the company too.”
“In the early years of Goldinjaya, we provided servicing for all kinds of machines, we did any work that came our way. We serviced cars, trucks and machines in rubber wood and sponge factories. A few years later, we realised that we needed to be more specialised, so we had to consider giving up on some of the industries. Eventually, we decided to focus on the woodworking industry as we saw a bright future there,” said Ng with a soft chuckle.
INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS MADE IN MALAYSIA
Goldinjaya is highly regarded for its outstanding and innovative products such as the Tow Cart Conveyor, Overhead Conveyor System, Spray Booth, Dust Collection System and Ventilators.
Goldinjaya’s Tow Cart Conveyor System (Images credit: Goldinjaya)
Overhead Conveyor System for finishing smaller furniture (Images credit: Goldinjaya)
Currently, they export conveyor systems to India.
In 2000, Goldinjaya also started to trade woodworking machines. Machines that changed hands in Goldinjaya was in a way, a reflection of the ups and downs in the market.
“In 2000, we started importing and selling Italian and German machines. 10 years later, Taiwanese machines overtook the Italian and German brands. The ratio of Taiwanese to European machines sold by us was 70:30. Today, 60 per cent of our machines are from China and 40 per cent from Taiwan. German brands can’t even enter the market, they are too expensive,” recounted Ng.
“We built our machines from scratch so that costs are kept low. We know our machines inside out and we know all the steps to build them. We were like the engineers of engineers. In the earlier days, we collaborated with Italian brand Coral, where we imported their parts and they transferred their technology to us so we can build the machines. We also modified them along the way. The Euro was simply too expensive then for us to import and sell European machines in Malaysia.”
In recent years, Goldinjaya also expanded into the palm oil industry with its dust collection systems and exhaust fans.
LOCALLY DEVELOPED TECHNOLOGY TO BE PROUD OF
One of Goldinjaya’s best selling products in Malaysia is the tow cart conveyor system, with innovations develped solely for the system. “To this date, I don’t see any similar system in Taiwan or China. This is a product we are very proud of,” said Ng.
Listing its advantages, Ng said that first of all, the tow cart conveyor system does not take up a large space. Secondly, the system is calculated and designed to incorporate the many steps required for the numerous layers of spraycoating and the drying process into a smooth flowing finishing line. “Our system is good because our technical and engineering skills enable us to build with precision and high accuracy. This is already a mature product which does not need enhancing for the next few years. Also, our pricing is definitely competitive as we can control costs,” said Ng.
“We continually improve our systems based on our past experiences. For the tow cart conveyor system, traditionally, the 458 bottom-chain system is used and it is built to reach knee height. We find that the height posed as an inconvenience and is less safe for workers when moving around.”
“20 year ago, we started to use hooked chains imported from the U.S., but there were problems leading to system downtime and manpower wastage. After changing over to the 458 system, we found that furniture pieces sometimes fall off when the tow carts knocked against each other. This is a common problem found in 458 systems. When we developed our tow cart conveyor system, we wanted to avoid all the previous issues and improve on the process system control, technicality, sizing and mapping,” explained Ng.
MALAYSIA’S WOOD-BASED INDUSTRY: A BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD
Many may think that the local wood-based industry is a sunset industry. But for Ng, its future is still a luminous one.
Muar is regarded as Malaysia’s furniture manufacturing hub, accounting for 70 per cent of Malaysian furniture exports coming, according to official figures. 90 per cent of Muar’s wood-based businesses belong to furniture manufacturers.
In fact, he thinks that the industry has never faced a decline in Malaysia. “Since the introduction of furniture manufacturing machines in the 80s, the industry has evolved and improved, increasing production volume while saving on manpower. Subsequently, with China’s rise as the biggest industrial power, its woodworking machinery industry has progressed by leaps and bounds, propelling the growth of the Southeast Asian industries along the way,” said Ng.
“Malaysia has the right conditions to a good future. We are a very stable country compared to our neighbours,” Ng said with confidence.
“With the ongoing trade war, it is a matter of time before the U.S. starts imposing duties on Vietnam. Indonesia has the labour, but its political-socio situation can be unstable. The same goes for Thailand, and more emphasis is also placed on tourism. Malaysia’s government may be undergoing changes but not drastically so, we also have no natural disasters.
Malaysia has stability. There are no strikes here, unlike in Vietnam. If the labour policy can be altered to assist local businesses, then all the better.
Labour is our only issue now,” Ng said.
LABOUR AS A CHALLENGE AND ADVANTAGE
Ng also pointed out that skilled labour is more mature in Malaysia, compared to Vietnam. “The Chinese in Malaysia have managed to pick up and accumulate deep technical knowledge and skills over the past decades. We are in a position to leverage on it now. Compared to Vietnamese workers, I would say the number of workers required to complete the same job in Malaysia versus Vietnam is 1:3, because the Malaysian managers, usually ethnically Chinese, have greater knowledge and experience to manage their workers better,” suggested Ng.
The main challenge faced by all industries in Malaysia now remains to be labour shortage. “The cost of labour in Malaysia and Vietnam is about the same now.
Labour cost was not expensive in Malaysia until we faced shortages. Our labour policy has restricted the amount of foreign labour made available to local companies,” lamented Ng.
Slowing down, he pondered for a moment before concluding once again.
“Malaysia truly has a lot to offer. Despite the challenge, a bright future awaits.”