It is not secret that the global economy is not at its best right now. As such, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies, especially SMEs, to grow, expand, and penetrate new markets. Businesses have to adapt and transform themselves drastically to fit into this new business climate if they want to survive.

SC Auto, a Singaporean bus manufacturer, embarked on their own transformation journey five years ago. Recently, they have reached a new major milestone when its SC Neustar buses started running on the roads of Myanmar. This came only 10 short months after the company launched its first bus to be completely designed and built in Singapore in December 2018.

SC Auto chairman Tan Siow Chua told The Straits Times that its overseas ambitions drove it to shift from making bus parts to manufacturing its own buses.

“If we didn’t change our business strategy, we would be able to operate only in Singapore, and expanding overseas would be dependent on others wanting to partner with us. But by developing our own buses, we have more freedom in deciding which markets we want to expand to,” he said.

Tan began his business with a single bus in 1978; transporting students and factory workers to where they needed to go. By 1996, SC Auto was designing and building buses for global partners around the globe. Finally in 2014, the company was designing its own brand of buses, with the end result being the SC Neustar.

Fast forward to today, SC Auto, now has about 150 employees working to deliver around 900 buses a year from its factories in Senoko and Yangon, Myanmar. As it went regional, it also automated the production processes at its Myanmar plant with the adoption of high-precision laser cutting systems, which have raised productivity by about 40 per cent.

Mr Tan said assistance from government agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG) helped SC Auto embark on its research and development efforts.

ESG chief executive Png Cheong Boon said that even amid a slowdown in the economy, businesses must continue to focus on positioning themselves for the future by putting in place plans for automation and digitalisation, while investing in skills training for their workers.


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