Prabakar Selvam: Making the Manufacturing Industry Smarter with Innovation

The 10 Best Entrepreneurs with an Inspiring Story 2020 Vol 2

With 20 years of profound experience in Information Technology and Manufacturing Domain, Prabakar Selvam founded Cantier Systems, headquartered in Singapore, to provide Cantier MES 4.0 Software (Manufacturing Execution System with Execution, IIoT & Intelligence Capabilities) for manufacturing industries such as Semiconductor, Electronics, Automotive, Metal Fabrication, Aerospace, Food and Beverages, Modular Construction, Sugar and Bio-Energy. Cantier has been serving customers for the past 10 years. To name a few, LittelFuse, Cypress, Mitsubishi, Asian Transmission, ShinEtsu, Toshiba, Hitachi Cables, Hewtech, Sunpower, AG&P.

Prabakar Selvam earned a master’s degree in computer application (MCA) from Bharathidasan University, India. He is designated as the Chairman of MESA APAC Board. He has also been featured in Silicon Review Magazine as “30 Entrepreneurs of the year 2017”. In this exclusive interview, Prabakar Selvam shares his success journey with us, as a source of inspiration for every aspiring individual. CIO Views is honored to have the opportunity to highlight his story in his own words.

What were your dreams and aspirations while growing up? What led you into the software industry?

During my school days, I have always been an enthusiast. Whatever I see from my playmates, for example a toy gun, kite, bike, etc. I wanted to build it on my own instead of buying. At the early stage of my career when I was a college lecturer, I set up my own training and development company. This led me to set up a Software company where I see a lot of problems in the Manufacturing Shop-floor, particularly in APAC countries, and the available solutions are only afforded by large companies.

What were the initial challenges and setbacks that you faced?

With the strong vision, we have started the company without any Investors at the start. Obviously, initially it was very tough to create such a world class MES Software (Manufacturing Execution System) to compete against players like Siemens, Yokogawa, Honeywell, CAMSTAR, etc. However, as part of the strategy, with the Services revenue, we are able to overcome the Financial hurdles, and successfully developed Cantier MES Software. It is then implemented and being used in several of our Manufacturing Customers.

Tell us in brief about the services of Cantier Systems

We provide Cantier MES 4.0 (Manufacturing Execution System). With the Execution, Intelligence and IIoT capabilities, Cantier MES 4.0 enables factories to be called “SMART Factory”. The traditional MES Software only focuses on Execution Capabilities but we address the SMART Manufacturing Capabilities. SMART Manufacturing is the top-most business concern now.

Cantier MES 4.0 improves Traceability, Visibility, Quality and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of the Manufacturing Shop-Floor. This provides real-time and accurate information leading to data-driven decisions. Key Modules include Product Configuration, Factory Planning, WIP, Equipment Maintenance, SPC, Data Collection, Document Control (DCC), Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Intelligence and IIoT.

Our Industry specific, Configurable MES allows us to deploy faster and the customer realizes their ROI and benefits in a shorter period. We have been working with Semiconductor, Electronics, Automotive, Aerospace, Metal Precision and Fabrication, Food, Sugar and Ethanol and Modular Construction Industries.

With our Head office in Singapore, we have been serving our Global customers for the past 10 years.

How do you define the growth of the company over the past few years? (Can be explained with statistical data too)

After incorporating SMART Manufacturing (Industry 4.0) features in our product, the growth rate is phenomenal. From 2017 and 2018, our growth in 2019 is 200% and we are expecting the same rate in 2020 as well.

Is the software industry a competitive one for Cantier Systems?

Yes, definitely. Particularly we specialize in the manufacturing vertical. Right now, we are in the Industry 4.0 era. This is exactly our focus now.

Tell us how technology has helped you in creating data-driven solutions?

We incorporated the current technologies such as Cloud, AI, Machine Learning, IoT in our MES 4.0 to help manufacturers to set up a SMART Factory.

With IIoT Technologies, we can communicate with machines real-time and provide insights to the decision makers. Overall Factory efficiencies can be monitored real-time and make immediate actions since the system alerts, as the event happens. When needed, machine to machine communication and control is also established.

With AI/Machine Learning, we can predict and act proactively. Examples: Predictive Maintenance, Predictive Quality, Predictive Machine Downtime, etc. With the volume of data collected from Equipment, tools through IIoT, technologies, AI/Machine Learning uses their Models to predict event and alert the users.

As MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) defines, www.mesa.org

Smart manufacturing is the endeavor to design, deploy, connect and manage enterprise manufacturing operations and systems that enable proactive management of the manufacturing enterprise through informed, timely (as close to real time as possible), in-depth decision execution.” Cantier MES 4.0 manages operations with Execution, connect the devices using IIoT and enable proactive management though Intelligence capabilities.

What is your vision for the company and key factors that distinguish you from the others?

Our vision is to become the number one company providing SMART MES Software (MES 4.0) in every country and market we serve.

The traditional MES Software is focusing on the Shop-floor functionalities such as traceability, quality & Maintenance. We provide Cantier MES with Industry 4.0 capabilities:

  • Supply Chain
  • Planning & Scheduling
  • Operations (Track & Trace, Quality & Maintenance)
  • IIoT Integration & Equipment Connectivity
  • AI & Machine Learning
  • RFID Integration
  • Integration with Leading ERPs
  • Manufacturing Big Data
  • Cloud Computing

This will help manufacturers to implement an integrated Smart Manufacturing Suite compared to other MES providers who just focus on the execution only. We also helped companies who used weaker ERP systems as our MES has Supply Chain functionality.

Give us a brief of your life before Cantier Systems

I would say I only worked for two companies before founding Cantier. One was in Dubai, UAE as an Analyst Programmer for two years. Then I had an opportunity to manage a Japan based Software company that has branches in India, Singapore & Philippines. I started as a Manager when I was 29 years old. As I was an excellent performer, in a short span of time, I got the opportunity to lead the company as a Managing director of all the three branches. This is where I got opportunity to enhance my entrepreneurial skill.

Tell us about your roles and responsibilities as the CEO of Cantier Systems and how does it make you feel?

Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Developing Business plan with -term and short-term strategies in line with company’s Goals and continuously review the progress the plan and initiatives.
  • Commit to continuously strengthen the company’s brands and products to improve its competitive position, closely work with Marketing & Product Development Team.
  • Play a major role for the product road map in line with the current market needs.
  • Analyze and make recommendation on the impact of long-range growth initiatives, planning, and introduction of new strategies.
  • Create, improve, implement, and enforce policies and procedures of the organization that will improve operational and financial effectiveness of the company.
  • Work with the finance team to develop a solid cash flow projection and reporting mechanism, which includes setting a minimum cash threshold to meet operating needs.
  • Evaluate company’s financial, operational, and sales and marketing structures to plan for continual improvements and a continual increase of operating efficiencies.
  • Involve Educational activates on SMART Manufacturing Initiatives, particularly through MESA (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association), a Non-Profit, International Organization.

It is a great feeling to come with a Cost-effective SMART Manufacturing Solution to the market and it is proven. Working with internal team and customers with more than a desired result is a wonderful journey, gives complete satisfaction of what I have been doing.

The quote that inspires me every day is, “When you earn people’s love and respect by how you love and respect them, it not only enriches your business – it enriches your life” – Sadhguru

What are your greatest achievements?

Some of the greatest Achievements:

  • Obviously, my biggest achievement is Building the Company Cantier and its global branding.
  • In a shorter span of time, we enhanced from a Basic MES Software to a SMART Manufacturing Suite as MES 4.0.
  • Recently, we have implemented our Industry 4.0 MES Solution in one of the Global Semiconductor and Electronic Manufacturing Sites in 4 months period. Based on what I know in the industry, this kind of huge projects normally takes at least a year.

What keeps you and your employees motivated?

  • Addressing the current Market needs using latest technologies and solutions
  • Training
  • Employment retention programs
  • Transparency

What does the future of Cantier Systems look like, globally? How do you plan to widespread the company services?

Though our current customers are global manufacturers, we are at present working with them on their APAC Sites. From 2020 to 2025, we will be expanding our business activities through Europe, South Africa, USA and Canada.

Prabakar Selvam has come a long way in his journey as an entrepreneur. His dedication to work hard, desire to keep learning and thirst for continuous improvement has made Cantier MES 4.0 one of the best smart factory solutions. We are certain, as the company continues to grow under his leadership, they will think, create, and innovate amazing ideas that will revolutionize technology.