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How People, Innovation and Processes Create a Winning Formula

A vibrant corporate culture of excellence powered by a strong team helps Admaterials Technologies deliver solid results. A stable workforce, steady 90 percent repeat customer base and innovation drive its success.

How People, Innovation and Processes Create a Winning Formula

Pursuing growth is always top of mind for the leaders of Admaterials Technologies Pte Ltd. The testing and consultancy laboratory in Singapore has operations spanning multiple certification sectors and fields: construction; civil engineering; chemical, environmental and mechanical.

Since its founding in 2008, Admaterials has grown from strength to strength, as evidenced by its staff expansion, new facilities and innovations to help streamline and grow its capabilities.

In February 2016, the company was acquired by Exova Group plc, a global testing, calibration and advisory services provider that operates 138 laboratories and offices in 33 countries covering diverse sectors including aerospace, fire and building products, oil and gas, automotive, health sciences, and more. According to managing director Mr Lu Jin Ping, this acquisition presents Admaterials with better opportunities and a wider global network, while for Exova, it provides a springboard for growth in Asia.


The Value of a Great Team

As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest motivators for Mr Lu is his people, whom he considers the company’s most important asset. When he found there was no way of taking his four-man team with him to a new company following the closure of the previous one, Mr Lu chose instead to set up Admaterials. Since then, there has been no looking back. The company’s staff count currently numbers 80 with his initial squad of four as core team members. With Research & Development being crucial to increasing productivity, some 50 percent of the company’s staff are technical professionals.

 “Skills and intelligence cannot be bought,” says Mr Lu, who believes that finding the right people for the company is crucial for sustainable growth. The company works closely with local tertiary institutions, offering scholarships to students from National University of Singapore, Singapore Polytechnic, Temasek Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic, facilitating industrial attachments and giving talks on the advanced material testing landscape.

There are abundant leadership and upgrading opportunities within Admaterials. Employees are encouraged to upgrade their skills through courses, seminars and overseas training. “Training people is a win-win for all as we grow together,” says Mr Lu.

How to Take Business to the Next Level: Set Goals and Innovate

In its first year of business, the company simply focused on surviving. However, once business stabilised, the company vision was set: to become a leading global testing laboratory. Business expansion over the last eight years has resulted in the company moving three times to bigger premises. Since 2013, the company has been based in a 20,000 square feet office/factory space in Sungei Kadut at Singapore’s north, which houses 10 testing laboratories.

Admaterials collaborates closely with partners such as SPRING Singapore (now Enterprise Singapore1) and A*STAR, for instance when setting up its pavement testing lab in 2013 as well as when deploying advanced equipment, streamlining processes and staff training. In 2014 and 2015, the company also worked with A*STAR’s Data Storage Institute to design its fully automated, cloud-based laboratory management system to enhance productivity and efficiency in data collection, analysis and management.

One productivity breakthrough for Admaterials is in concrete cube testing, which makes up about 20 percent of the company’s total revenue. By embarking on a productivity improvement project using SPRING’s (now Enterprise Singapore1) Capability Development Grant, this formerly manual process is now automated, reducing manpower requirements by up to 50 percent. Besides automating repetitive and highly complex manual data management tasks, concrete cube test results and reports can now be generated within a day, compared to a week previously. Moreover, customers and staff are able to view test reports on their mobile devices using a web-based mobile application.

Admaterials is also one of the first advanced materials testing labs in Singapore to use a recycled water management system as part of its concrete cube storage. Developed and implemented by the company in July 2015, the system has helped Admaterials save around 70 to 80 percent of water when curing concrete cubes.With the concrete cubes now stored in tiered shelves instead of water troughs, Admaterials is also able to free up laboratory space for other use.

Think Big for Shared Success

Mr Lu expounds the need to think big when improving processes and charting growth plans. Having established a branch in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, in April 2016, the company is currently considering the attractiveness of several other Asian countries, such as India where Exova already has an oil and gas laboratory.

“We are also looking at certification and expansion to other areas such as NDT (non-destructive testing), fire tests for walls and doors, lighting and even green products,” Mr Lu adds. In addition, Admaterials is working closely with the Singapore Green Building Council to create more green materials tests in Singapore. There are also plans to set up a training centre targeted at the industries it specialises in to contribute to a more highly trained workforce.

Mr Lu’s key business inspiration is to always think of others first — especially staff and customers. The company’s long-serving staff and 90 percent customer retention are testament to this philosophy. “In business, it’s all about treating people well, whether they are clients or staff,” he says. “It’s also crucial to always think long term and strategically. This way, everybody is a winner — from your staff and your clients, to the economy and therefore the country as well.”

Click here to find out how A*STAR Research Institutes can support your R&D efforts. Find out what R&D and innovation resources are available for your business at the Centres of Innovation here too.

Last Modified Date: 04 Oct 2018