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EMS Group: Empowering Workforce, Gearing up for FIRe

Like many other organizations, the EMS Group of Companies has been innovating its business to keep up with the ever-changing world of business. As one of the private Filipino-owned groups in the country’s electronics manufacturing industry, it saw how inevitable these transformations are to remain competitive and stay true to its value of growing with its pool of Filipino talents.

Mr. Perry Ferrer, EMS Group Chairman and CEO
Mr. Perry Ferrer, EMS Group Chairman and CEO, during the project kick-off held at the EMS Assembly Components, Inc. office in Sta. Rosa, Laguna

This mindset has led to EMS surviving the global financial crisis in 2009, which has affected and wiped out at least 90 percent of its production output. At that time, EMS has already grown its workforce from 800 people to at least 1,800.

But, according to EMS Group Chairman and CEO Ferdinand “Perry” Ferrer, instead of layoffs, they decided to retrain their workers to learn new skills—this is what his father, the late Francis Ferrer, former president of the Ayala-led Integrated Micro-electronics, Inc., told him to go about the problem.

EMS Group spent the next year and its resources to retrain their workforce through the Alliance Mansols, Inc., an EMS subsidiary established in 2010. In 2011, the gamble paid off as the retraining program yielded a substantial pool of manpower that can run the idle plants affected by the global economic crisis. These talents manned the plants’ production processes, from value engineering to quality control, among others.

Aside from the parent company, EMS Components Assembly, Inc., established in 2004, as well as the Alliance Mansols, Inc., the EMS Group also put up other companies. This includes the Creotec Philippines Inc.; EMS Resources Technology Inc.; EMS Services Philippines Inc., and EMS Services International, Inc. EMS Services International also opened recently its office in Japan.

Innovation as a key to ensuring success
For Perry, the willingness to change and innovate can help any company to succeed. “If we did not change and innovate, our company would have been shut down. So, we constantly innovate while still sticking to our core competency, which is the semiconductor and electronics assembly,” he said.

As automation and digitalization become a significant part of today’s workplaces, EMS embarks on another big change as it aims to empower further its workforce with modern resource planning (ERP) system as part of the company’s digital transformation strategy. The project aims to bolster EMS Group’s productivity by upgrading its systems with SAP S/4HANA, which will be hosted on the Fujitsu Cloud to enable EMS Group's cloud integration and Hybrid IT strategy.

As a fully integrated ERP system, SAP S/4HANA allows organizations to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to transform business processes both in the cloud and on-premise. It will also improve business operations by automating its systems and reducing manual processes.

With the modern ERP system in place, EMS will now have a credible source of information across companies within the finance, procurement, inventory, operations, engineering, quality, and maintenance processes. The system will also improve financial reporting and analysis by accurately capturing and recording all cost revenue information across several revenue streams.

Lighting up the FIRe
EMS also considers this project as one of its ways to activate its Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe), or the IR 4.0, digital transformation journey. “It may sound cliché because we have repeatedly talked about it but, the Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0) is now right in our doorsteps. Our adoption of the new ERP system, which utilizes AI and Cloud, is one of our ways to prepare for it,” Perry said.

The FIRe, essentially, refers to the overall shift toward digital platforms. Modern digital technologies and applications will transform nearly every industry and sector, including the semiconductor and electronics industry. “We have been planning to integrate this modern ERP system for five years before we decided to partner with Fujitsu. We want to set an example for Filipino companies, that as we move to IR 4.0, we can empower, maintain, and even grow our more than 17,000 workers with technology as it will attract more business,” Perry said.

Dealing with change
Perry pointed out, on the other hand, that the automation of their processes is a major transformation for the organization. “From a semi or mostly manual processes to now having a fully integrated and digital system to tackle them, is a big change for us, even for our operators, which compose 92% of our total workforce,” he said. “Acceptance will be the biggest challenge. SAP S/4HANA is already a tried and tested system but, the way we adapt it internally will dictate our transformation moving forward.”

Perry noted that it is important to maintain the collaboration within the departments and all levels in the organization. It is critical to let all the employees understand the benefits of the new system, including the opportunity of learning new skills needed in utilizing the system. “There will be a lot of resistance, especially that we are going to change their work. Most people do not like change but, we want to make sure that we show them its benefits so, they will accept it,” he said.

Keeping employees motivated
Aside from the benefits of changing digitally, Perry said that taking on this transformation all boils down to providing opportunities to upskill Filipino talents and help them grow with the company.

For more than 24 years, Perry has worked outside the country, working as a high-ranking executive for different companies in Europe, the United States, Canada, and China. He also has no plans of coming back to the Philippines but, when his father asked to help him in managing EMS, he decided to take on the challenge.

“I managed several factories abroad and, all I was after then were EPS. When you come in here, you'll realize that it’s not about the dollars and cents but, it’s the people. When you see them improve their lives while they help your company grow, that changes your perspectives,” Perry said. “Filipinos are excellent workers and for that, I will always fight for them. The only problem we have is sometimes, we stop the growth of our local talents. Until now, our primary objective is to do that. Every decision we make is all towards the idea of ‘will it help the Filipinos?’”

Since then, Perry has been passionate about helping hone Filipino talents, especially in the semiconductor and electronics industry. “We have a lot of things that we can be proud of. A lot of the electronic parts out there, such as in cars or the satellite dishes in the United States, are made by Filipinos, but they are inside another product,” Perry said.

And so, to keep the employees motivated, Perry said that they ensure that all of them feel welcomed and get equal opportunities to grow. “We do not call them by their ID numbers. We always make it a point to talk to them personally to talk, not about the business and work, but their dreams, aspirations, and even about their family,” he noted.

A Unique approach to digital transformation
As EMS Group’s implementing partner for the project, Fujitsu brings its unique approach to driving digital transformation through co-creation. This approach enables the company to deliver value through digital solutions suited to tackle the specific needs of its partners.

“Now, more than ever, businesses have all the available systems and solutions, which they can integrate into their systems using the Fujitsu Cloud. Our team is more than excited about this project with the EMS Group and, we look forward to supporting its vision for digital transformation through this partnership,” said Raul “Cricket” Santiago, Fujitsu Philippines CEO and President.

With 45 years of local presence and expertise, Fujitsu Philippines provides businesses with cutting-edge IT solutions and services nationwide. It also offers cloud technology that provides relevant and cost-efficient IT solutions to all organizations of various sizes and needs.

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