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Digitalising Malaysia’s plantation industry – Part Two

Part One of this account detailed how a recent report noted that a Malaysian company is providing digital management products and services to help plantations become more efficient by being less dependent on manual labour and easier to supervise.

The report also noted that the company took the digitalisation of plantations one step further by launching their newest product, a mobile application that complements to their Quarto system, earlier this year.

According to the company’s founder, the app is to be used on site as it functions as a tool for planters to digitally record data of their activities on the field which will then be stored in a cloud-based system.

The reason for the app was because the company saw the information gap between field operations and monitoring. The app is their approach to extending the digitisation of plantations to include work at the field level as well, not just at the main office.

The founder noted that the app is loaded up on a Portable Data Terminal (PDA) device.

A lot of planters are still very manual with their recording and reporting of field data. This is not only labour intensive but also very time consuming as it may take a long time to report the data back to the main office, the founder lamented.

To ease this process, the main features that the company’s mobile application boasts is a biometric worker attendance record, a crop harvesting log and a crop evacuation log.

The founder explained that these three main features were developed as the firm had discovered that a lack of workers, poor crop harvesting quality and crop losses were among the biggest operation challenges faced by planters.

He noted that the mobile application can be launched on any android device that has a biometric device to read fingerprints and a scanner to scan QR codes.

With worker attendance, workers just have to scan their fingerprints on any device with the application launched and it will automatically record their attendance. By scanning their fingerprints, the possibility of false attendance records and the number of ‘ghost workers’ in a plantation is reduced.

For the crop harvesting and crop evacuation function, when a worker brings over their harvested FFB’s, they just need to key in the amount they have brought and the data is automatically saved while the app directs for a QR code to be printed.

The QR code can then be scanned at the oil palm mill and the time taken to transport the fruit to the mill will be automatically recorded while any unscanned QR codes can show the number of lost crops.

By digitalising these processes, Khor believes that the traceability and the monitoring of field operations can be drastically improved and the issues of ‘ghost workers’, missing crops and inefficiencies in transporting corps be significantly minimised – causing plantations to see potential yield increases.

Many of the firm’s customers have seen increases in their palm oil yields as a result of their increases in operational efficiency. While some increases might seem small, they need to remember that for large companies, even a 0.1 per cent increase in yield from their plantations can easily translate to millions.

While the firm’s products have demonstrated their value through their extensive client list throughout the ASEAN region, the founder notes that this is only the beginning for the digitalisation of the plantation industry.

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