Set the Standard High

In commemoration of the retirement of Mr Abdul Aziz Long in December 2020, Senior General Manager of the Standards Research and Development Department, SSTS Connect was greatly honoured to have interviewed him to get his personal insights looking back on his experience in SIRIM, in particular SIRIM STS, and his final words of wisdom to us, the SIRIM STS workforce.

What was the biggest challenge as the head of Standards Research and Development Department?

My biggest challenge was when the Malaysian Standard Act was amended in 2012 where SIRIM was no longer the sole Standard Development Agency. SIRIM was asked to transfer six sectoral scopes to the newly appointed SDAs. After the amendment, there had been continuous effort by Jabatan Standard Malaysia (JSM) to gradually reduce our remaining scopes because it wanted to develop its own capability in standard development. It finally happened in 2018 when JSM informed us that it will become a full-fledged standard development body in developing Malaysian Standards and will cease the appointment of SDAs effective January 2019.

What aspect of the department’s activities that gave you the greatest satisfaction?

Digitilisation of Malaysian Standards development activities started in 2006 using three IT platforms. However, when I joined in 2010, I observed that we were not fully utilizing the platform effectively. Data was not inputted consistently, and all SDC secretaries were maintaining their own list of committees and listing of standards. It was so difficult to reconcile the status of the standards developed, published, withdrawn, etc. Usage of the Standards Management System platform was not strictly enforced, and the system also needed additional enhancement to address the gaps.

It took us almost three years to do data cleaning, enhancement of the system where in the end there were no more personal lists maintained by the secretaries; no more complaints on missing and obsolete MS when clients purchased Malaysian Standards online. As a result, we saw a steady growth of softcopy standards sold from 2015 onwards. The secretaries could access all information related to MS from anywhere if there was connectivity, thus making their work easier and they became more productive. This is my greatest satisfaction.

SIRIM Industry Standard was established in 2014, i.e. under your tenure. What aspired you to embark into the establishment of the standard?

As the pressure to release more scopes (Malaysian Standards) continued, the management was aware that we just could not abolish standard development work totally. SIRIM could not be detached from ‘Standards’ otherwise the industry and public will forget about SIRIM. SIRIM was a household name and we should maintain it. What inspired me to embark on SIRIM Industry Standard was that our over 50 years of experience in standard development should not go to waste. We should model ourself like ASTM or UL (Underwriters Laboratories). SIRIM has the brand. It may take us 50 years. But we need to start now.

How significant is SIRIM Industry Standard for the country, and how has it contributed to the Malaysian industry and society so far?

In Malaysia, the industries do not focus so much on company/organisation standards compared to those in developed countries. To be competitive, Malaysian goods and services need to have good organisation and industry standards to ensure product quality is consistently maintained and at the same time, be competitive and efficient.

Since we introduced this service, our clients are slowly growing. Standards are tools to resolve problems including those that are related to society. We are working with Jabatan Kerja Raya (JKR) to develop its in-house documents or technical specifications on environmental related matters. With Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) we are currently developing standards with the scopes that are not covered by any Malaysian Standards. Where standardisation is needed to resolve specific issues, organisations can find alternatives through SIRIM Industry Standards, whereby the copyright can 100% be owned by them.

What more can be done to ensure that SIRIM Industry Standard is here to stay?

Over the last two years we have been able to create awareness on the importance and benefits of SIRIM Industry Standards. Conversion period from prospecting to order book is longer compared to Training and Consultancy. We need dedicated business development executives that can understand client problems and offer solutions. We can use social media to promote industry standards through use cases.

What was your contribution in SIRIM’s role as the country’s facilitator in Industry 4.0 adoption?

Under SIRIM 10-year plan, SIRIM has established a Centre of Excellence on Smart Manufacturing to support Industry4WARD policy launched by MITI. I was appointed the KRM (Key Result Manager) under ST 3.2 – Focus on supporting embrace of Industry 4.0. My role was leading the CoE team to build a foundation for SIRIM to enable the Malaysian industry to adopt Industry 4.0 Technology through 4 programmes:

P1 – Routing the Future Readiness – Development of Competent and High-skilled Workforce
P2 – Standard for Interoperability – Development of Smart Manufacturing Related Standards and Guidelines
P3 – Innovation Accelerators – Development of Smart and Innovative Products
P4 – Cyber Physical Progression – Readiness Audit, Technology Intervention and Retrofitting of Machines to Industry 4.0 Compliant

From 2020 to 2023 is the implementation phase. This year, SSTS targeted to publish four standards. Our training and consultancy in Green 5S and Lean Management is part and parcel of preparing SMEs towards adoption of Industry 4.0 Technology when they are ready.

Apart from Industry 4.0 related standards, what are other critical areas that the department could focus on in the future?

Other than Industry 4.0 related standards, we need to identify standards that could be used for certification and training. Area of focus are sustainability, smart farming, environmental, fashion and lifestyle. Apart from this, we also need to focus on delivering quality services with clear product differentiation factors. On how to achieve this, I leave it to all of you to do the thinking, planning and strategising.

What do you want to be remembered for by your colleagues?

I started work in May 1985 as a Research Officer under Unit Bimbingan Perindustrian. In 1990 I was transferred to Unit ITAF (Industrial Technical Assistant Fund). My main function was to assist SMEs in improving product quality, productivity and new product development. From 1992 to 1995 I was an ISO 9000 auditor. In 1996, I was assigned to develop EMS Certification Scheme based on ISO 14001. I led the EMS Section for 10 years before being appointed as General Manager, Corporate Services at SIRIM QAS. Under the EMS Section, I established Eco-Labelling Scheme, Forest Management and Chain of Custody Certification Scheme and UNFCC Clean Development Mechanism Validation/Verification Scheme. In 2009, I was transferred as the SGM Testing Services for 1 year. This year is my 11th year as the SGM of Standards Research and Development Department.

In SIRIM, I am not sure of how my colleagues will remember me for, my friends outside of SIRIM have always consider me as an Environmental Management expert through my voluntary work in Ensearch (Environmental Management and Research Association of Malaysia)

What would you like to pass on to the next generations at work?

Kerja secara ikhlas, dengan penuh tekun dan dedikasi. Set the standard for yourself to achieve. Never stop learning.”

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