REDMART ENGINEER VINCE CHIONH STEPS INTO NEW SHOES AS TEAM LEAD FOR AUTOMATION MAINTENANCE
Posted 3yr(s) ago Reading Time: A few minutes
Taking the leap from pharmaceuticals to e-commerce, Vince Chionh’s 16-year engineering journey has been anything but stagnant. An ITE graduate who went on to complete a diploma in Electrical and Computer Control Engineering and degree in Electrical Engineering, he’s charted a course that’s been eventful, diverse and enriched with many learning opportunities, especially in his current role as an Automation Maintenance Manager with RedMart, Singapore’s leading online supermarket. Read on for Vince’s take on the most important events that have shaped his career and aspirations for the future.
REDMART: BRINGING IDEAS, DELIVERING THE FUTURE
In January 2018, I decided to venture into a challenging and high-growth industry – e-commerce – for my career development and joined RedMart as an Automation Maintenance Manager. I was given the opportunity to take on a leadership role of building the Automation Maintenance team from scratch and to look after the automation maintenance of RedMart’s 24/7 Automated Operation Fulfillment Centre. I am also responsible for designing our automation maintenance roadmap to support business needs and to look for further opportunities to automate other sites within the company. Coming from a different industry, I am extremely excited to bring what I have previously learnt and implement it to help RedMart achieve its business objectives.
Many people know RedMart as an online supermarket, but at its heart it is actually a technology and logistics company in the online groceries space: tech is behind everything we do and our products and services are built on cutting-edge technology. We are also a very diverse and inclusive organisation, with over 36 different nationalities across our offices in Singapore and Bangalore, bringing many interesting talents and experiences to the table. Even till today, I am constantly broadening my knowledge and skill sets through interacting with my colleagues, and I sometimes get to learn things outside my jobscope, such as building and safety regulations and fulfillment centre design.
MY JOURNEY: THE EARLY DAYS
A few months before completing my full-time national service in 2002, I started looking out for career opportunities and came across several job openings in the pharmaceutical industry on the Careers@ITE job portal. Back then, the pharmaceutical industry was rapidly expanding in Singapore, giving rise to a variety of new opportunities. I decided to give the industry a try and develop my expertise in this area. I took the first step by applying for a job and submitting my resume through the portal. I was soon called up for an interview at Schering-Plough Singapore Pte Ltd and was subsequently offered a two-year contract as a Trainee Electrical & Instrument Technician. I started off with attachments to automation vendors and senior colleagues to do commissioning work for the newly built Multi-Product Plant and the Research and Development Pilot Plant. It was an eye-opening experience for me to work with such sophisticated automation systems for the first time in my life. I began to develop a passion for the automation, electrical and instrumentation field. After the project was successfully commissioned and transitioned into the operation phase, I was tasked to perform shift work to support the plant operations.
After a year, I started to feel a sense of belonging in the pharmaceutical industry. I gained more knowledge and experience with each task I accomplished. The sense of satisfaction and achievement became the driving force for me to stay on in this industry.
But I also wanted to improve myself, so I pursued a part-time Diploma in Electrical and Computer Control Engineering at Singapore Polytechnic between 2003 and 2007. After my two-year contract with Schering-Plough Singapore Pte Ltd ended, I joined Wyeth Nutritionals Singapore Pte Ltd as an Engineering Technician. After receiving my Diploma, I continued to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of South Australia through part-time studies, and I successfully completed the degree in 2009.
In my seven years with Wyeth Nutritionals Singapore Pte Ltd (2004-2012), I progressed from Engineering Technician to Senior Engineering Technician, and finally to Automation Engineer. As a Technician and Engineer, I specialised in SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) programming and Electrical & Instrumentation. My daily tasks involved production-related troubleshooting, researching for ways to improve production efficiency through both functional and cross-functional efforts, and supporting control system upgrading and expansion projects.
The most fulfilling aspects of my job were the knowledge and experience gained from working on the end-to-end production process, the opportunity to work on sophisticated control systems and being up-to-date with new control technologies. All these fueled my passion to ideate for methods to increase production efficiency, smoothen production flow and ensure delivery of quality products to customers. Over the years, on-the-job learning equipped me with the necessary skills and knowledge to become a subject matter expert.
From 2012 to 2018, my career path started to transition from a technical to a managerial role. I worked as a Control Engineer in Alcon Singapore Manufacturing Pte Ltd, eventually becoming a Senior Control Engineer and finally an Automation Lead in Abbott Nutrition Research & Development and PepsiCo Global Concentrate Solutions. My responsibilities involved setup, commissioning, maintaining all automation assets, supporting business operations, troubleshooting issues, driving continuous improvement projects, financial budgeting and planning for all aspects of automation.
LOOKING BACK: MY BIGGEST LEARNINGS
The school has equipped me with the basic and fundamental knowledge that I needed to have in Engineering. The greatest takeaway for me came from juggling work and studies for six years. Although it was a tough time, the journey made me more resilient and unafraid of challenges and hardship. I believe that facing and overcoming obstacles has made me a stronger and better person.
During my early days as an Engineering Technician, I struggled to make time for classes, school work or study for examinations due to the odd working hours as I was working overtime to troubleshoot urgent issues alone during my shift work. This experience taught me the importance of time management, how to work efficiently, not to be afraid of hardship and the need to have a clear mind while trying to resolve problems even when faced with constraints and pressures.
“ Facing and overcoming obstacles has made me a stronger and better person. ”