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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and halted activities and businesses, one of the few industries that remained active and continued to grow was the maritime industry. The sector ensured that trade and supply of essential goods took place smoothly. While the industry continued to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic, it collectively embraced the need to boost the digital infrastructure. One such electrical, automation, navigation, and communication solutions provider in the market that played a significant role in the digitalisation of the industry is the KDU Group. The marine equipment trading and maintenance company offers quality solutions and products to its clients, and works towards upgrading and improving the technological scope of the navy. Along with its navigation systems, internal and external communication systems, satellite communication systems, and much more, the company aims to benefit the navy greatly through advanced technology and solutions.
In terms of technology and the digital transformation of the industry, to what extent has it reflected on your business?
Technology and digital transformation has always been an essential part of the growth and progress of any industry, and the maritime sector is no different in this regard. Although technology and digital transformation did not affect the defence sector much, the commercial shipping sector has been impacted greatly by digitalisation during the post-covid era. Social media and the robust connectivity provided by it has become essential to the progress of the maritime industry and the businesses operating under its umbrella. In the current era, for the offshore fleet and the large vessels, technological advancements hold great value at the end of the ship-owners and ship managers. However, as far as the defence is concerned, because of the security measures associated with it, digitalisation cannot take place as easily and quickly as it did for the commercial sector.
What has been your post-covid business strategy in order to take advantage of opportunities arising from the ongoing pandemic, considering that shipping and logistics sectors were one of the least affected sectors during the pandemic?
It is true that the shipping and logistics sectors were one of the least affected sectors during the pandemic, but for a company like ours that provides services to vessels arriving at the ports, it was quite challenging during the initial days of the pandemic to adjust and work with the precautions and restrictions that were imposed. Initially, we were banking on the cooperation from the government and the port authorities to make it possible and more convenient for our engineers to board the ships and repair the systems on-board, but safety requirements had to be met and there was not much that could be done to make our job easier. It was very challenging for us to operate last year, especially when you consider the fact that travelling from one country to another to provide our services to our clients and customers was difficult due to international travel restrictions.
Wherever we could travel to, our engineers had to be quarantined, which was very time consuming and delayed a lot of our work. Moreover, since fewer engineers were allowed to work on one vessel due to COVID-19 precautions, the pace at which work was being completed got slower and delayed the delivery of results. Therefore, COVID-19 did bring about a lot of opportunities to the industry, but it also gave birth to a lot of challenges within the sector. However, with the vaccination drives on the go, concerns such as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements will hopefully ease down as time passes by, and once that happens, we will be on our toes to provide our services more promptly.
As far as we are concerned, we have seen and experienced a huge change in the industry and our nature of work due to the massive digital transformation of the sector in the recent past. As of now, we have the latest products available in the market, and have seen a sudden surge in the inquiries and requirements for such products from our clients and customers. With the kind of reputation we have in terms of the services offered by us, we are trying our level best to stay true to that reputation and fulfill the requirements and demands of our customers, and have been successful in meeting the expectations set by our clients for us.
What is the distinctive added value provided by KDU to its clients?
KDU has a reputation for providing solutions to problems that clients are unable to find from any other service provider. We have a team that customises products as per the requirements set by the clients and are capable of working on existing products to enhance their performance. There have been countless occasions when we have solved problems faced by our customers at unparalleled standards in terms of quality of work delivered. We do not only back-up and bring the systems on-board back to working condition, but also provide retro-fit solutions as a result of our long standing experience in the industry, so that our customers get top notch support every time they approach us.
Our USP is the fact that we are experts in providing customised solutions to our clients for all their problems and concerns, especially in terms of automation of ships and their systems; this is what keeps KDU ahead of its competition. The nature of work adopted by us, high level of skills, and years of experience in the industry, has brought us to a point where we now have over 200 clients all around the globe. Moreover, we had opened a branch in Saudi Arabia in 2019, and were planning to open more branches in 2020 as part of our expansion project, but due to the ongoing pandemic, we had to hold back our ambitions for a while. However, we are looking forward to reviving the project and facilitating the growth of the Saudi Arabian branch into a successful one, while also ensuring the progress of our branch in Singapore.