TAG Industrial: SME Excellence Business Award 2022/2023
A key issue in Singapore today is the average age among the population. With the advancement in medical health, people are generally living longer. Acknowledging the trend, the Government has put in place policies to help retain older workers but challenges remain for the ageing workforce especially where laborious jobs and tasks are concerned. Singapore’s direction towards becoming a ‘Smart Nation’, where robotics and technology would support the human workforce, is a key step towards helping this group, especially in tasks that require physical effort.
Recognising this, Ms Melanie Koh is an entrepreneur who, with a team of like-minded individuals, decided to dive into the business of automation and innovation, specifically in the area of in-house mover solutions. Keeping in mind companies’ concerns in costs and convenience, she decided to be the one offering a one-stop range of automated and semi-automated products, to be a go-to for in-house automated mover solutions, and set up TAG Industrial, the name representing the words “Think and Act Global”.
Besides offering a stable of smart mover solutions, TAG Industrial also offers an equipment concierge service that allows clients to source for and maintain technologies they are interested in but are currently unavailable in Singapore. In recent years, this concierge service helped to spin off a sister company named ECOTAG that specifically introduces sustainable cleaning products and technologies as a special focus. In the wake of COVID-19, ECOTAG has also expanded its range to include products that help to fight the pandemic.
When they first started, TAG Industrial’s founding team brought along their expertise and strong network in the hotel and hospital sectors, doing precise analysis on the sectors’ needs and gaps, and how TAG Industrial’s business could correspond with government policies to support the sectors’ growth. For Ms Koh, her background in the public sector and familiarity with technology trends helped to steer TAG Industrial’s sales and marketing strategies, synergizing them with the Government’s larger directions to transform the market sectors in the drive for greater productivity and efficiency, and also to support retaining older workers.
Some initial difficulties they ran into was capital, due to the prices of the equipment they are dealing with, which brings with them a high sunk cost for demos and prototypes. Changing mindsets of business owners and senior leaders was another challenge – their support is crucial in encouraging actual change through adoption of new technologies. The TAG Industrial team kicked off their venture by first working with companies at the forefront of technological adoption, as well as those that are proactively seeking ways to transform their businesses with a higher level of innovation. These customers became good examples to encourage other companies to jump on-board with smart mover solutions. TAG Industrial also made the effort to reach out to the public agencies looking after transformation in these market sectors so they are aware of TAG Industrial’s presence and the availability of these solutions.
While the competition has grown since TAG Industrial was first set-up, Ms Koh and her team remain steadfast in their customer outreach efforts and continues to scan the global environment for technologies and trends that would benefit Singapore.
Representing a number of established brands across the world, Ms Koh is proud that TAG Industrial is able to offer solutions to customers according to their requirements, budget and working environment, all under the same roof. These include both automated and semi-automated equipment. In addition, TAG Industrial has an engineering team that can help with customization works for more complicated requests.
TAG’s core line of products includes hospital bed movers, heavy-duty pedestrian tugs and automated sensor-driven powered wheels from notable brands such as Effidence of France and INDES of the Netherlands. Their concierge service also offers a number of automated solutions from Europe and China. They all have a common underlying theme: TO HELP CUSTOMERS MOVE MORE WITH LESS EFFORT.
Earlier on, TAG Industrial also developed a prototype meant to support Singapore’s older workers. The TAG Voiture is designed to assist elderly workers performing janitorial duties, aiding them in transporting their working carts effortlessly around workplaces. Its easy operation encouraged senior employees to quickly adopt the solution and user feedback has shown it to be an effective solution that they can use confidently to improve their efficiency.
Ms Koh credits their success to a matrix of factors, including having the right people on her start-up team, creating a strong foundation with a common vision. Hard work among her staff as well as an adventurous, persevering spirit also help to push the team past ignored emails and phone calls, to converting possible interest into successful deals.
The team also organizes bi-annual seminars as part of its promotional efforts, inviting clients and potential customers to view and understand TAG Industrial’s stable of products. Attendees get to hands-on with the different solutions and see for themselves how these solutions would work in a real environment. Such events not only help TAG Industrial keep itself top-of-minds with existing clients, but also make inroads with potential customers who are hesitant to make the investment. It is also an opportunity for the TAG Industrial team to network with leading players in the respective market sectors, to cross-share ideas and even possibly lay the foundation for future collaboration.
Counting a number of reputable names including the Changi Airport Group, Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa, SMRT, DHL and a number of hospitals as its clients, Ms Koh hopes to break into other market sectors such as manufacturing and supply chain in the next couple of years. Beyond Singapore’s shores, TAG Industrial is also charting expansion through strategic partners in key global markets. TAG Industrial already has a partner in USA and is currently reviewing for Australia, South Korea among others.
But Ms Koh is in no hurry. Her key focus right now: developing TAG Industrial’s own range of products. Preliminary work is already underway, with hopes to launch the first product within the next two to three years. “After representing global brands over the past few years, we noticed there are still some gaps in local expectation versus what is available. We hope to bridge this gap with our own products, which are built with leading specifications and with a stronger Singapore focus. We are very excited because this would mean revisiting missed opportunities and opening up new doors.”