Yeet Chuan, the brainchild behind Proton’s face shield project


Lee Yeet Chuan

LEE Yeet Chuan is the special officer to Proton chief executive officer Dr Li Chunrong but he holds another job as the head of the new energy management (NEM) department.

With the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, many companies have stepped forward to contribute ways to help the government and society in combating the disease.

Proton began delivering face shields on April 16 to medical frontliners, the entire exercise of producing and delivering the personal protection equipment (PPE) components for medical front liners was estimated to take 20 days.

It said that in the second phase, it would make 60,000 more face shields and prioritise deliveries to the police and armed forces enforcing the movement control order. Production was expected to be completed by May 9.

Lee was the brainchild of the current face shield project and his proposal was accepted by management.

He started his career with Proton in 2003 after graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from Universiti Tenaga Nasional.

He continued his studies while working for the national car company and obtained a Master of Business of Administration (Finance). He then joined the company’s China project and was posted to China from 2006 to 2012.

“At that time, I was attached with the international business division and my work involved project management for export of Proton models to China, as well as the localisation of the components in China.

“When I came back in late 2012, I joined the transformation office department where I was tasked to undertake the cost reduction of utilities including electricity, water and gas across the Proton group of companies.

“When Geely came on board as Proton’s partner in late 2017, I was tasked to be the special officer of Dr Li, ” he said.

Lee shared his experience in Proton.

Below are excepts of an interview with StarBiz.

How is Proton progressing with the NEM?

I am happy to share that since we initiated the department in 2019, we have achieved savings of RM2mil for 2019 alone. And cumulative savings, based on initiatives from 2015 to 2019, was RM21mil. This is an achievement above our target of RM17mil, or 23% above the target for cost savings.

We started with rigorously eliminating all the wastages from electricity, gas and water. The big ticket items such as air-conditioning usage, compressed air usage, lightings and even our liquefied petroleum gas usage were looked into and methods were found to reduce their consumption while still providing the necessary support to the production of the cars.

Initially the team back in 2015 has only two staff including myself, but as we showed more cost-savings and reduced energy consumption, there was a need for additional manpower to oversee various channels of cost-cutting management. At present, we have nine full-time staff.

Between working as a special officer, and head of NEM – which job gives you more pleasure?

The roles cannot be compared. Although a little more taxing on my part in terms of juggling between two jobs – I wouldn’t complain. For me, any way I can contribute to the company, I see it as an honour and a challenge for myself and to see how far I can grow my capabilities.

I take pride in this job, and more with the responsibility that comes with it.

This position gives me the opportunity to actually tell the boss what goes around in the company, and convey messages of the people who wish to highlight matters.

Dr Li is receptive to the different ideas that are brought forth – he is culturally sensitive; a man who has high respect for different cultures, practices and way of life of unique Malaysia and the fact that he personally bought a few different Malay costumes to wear during our Hari Raya events and official functions.

On the other hand, being the head of NEM also means that I am managing a totally different work aspect.

I take pride in that we managed to change the perception of many employees by raising their awareness towards energy conservation and energy efficiency.

In December 2019, the team and myself made a trip to Geely Hangzhou Bay Plant in China to learn and exchange ideas with our counterparts there.

We also benchmark against them in terms of energy management and also on solar photovoltaics systems.

From the benchmarking study, we are looking at how we could re-model our processes to save and conserve energy. Initiatives are ongoing and we are hopeful to achieve higher savings in the future.

How did the face shield project under Proton come about?

The idea came about because a few of my colleagues and I thought that we could actually use our existing resources to contribute something for our frontliners. It is doing our part for national service.

I chanced upon some articles I read online on how auto companies around the world are helping to manufacture PPE such as face shields, which are useful for medical teams around the world.

Interestingly, I found out that making face-shield is quite a do-able process as Proton possesses the equipment and technology such as 3D printing, plastic injection moulding, etc to do it.

For this effort – our vendors ie Hicom Teck See and Pos Logistics Bhd also came on board by donating raw materials such as the polypropylene for the face shield frame and Pos Logistics donated packing boxes as well handling the distribution of the completed face shields to all 58 Covid-19 screening and treatment centres across Malaysia.

We are now capable of producing 3,000 face shields per day and we had pledged to support 60,000 face shields for our medical front liners.

This project showed great teamwork between Proton design, research and development, human resource, NEM and other volunteers from various departments.

With two different permanent roles, and a face-shield project, how do you cope?

I just work on what I need to do. I must say that these are jobs that I enjoy doing, and not something I dread.

For me, the bigger satisfaction is seeing the medical frontliners having sufficient PPE to protect themselves against Covid-19.

We understand safety and its importance, after all we are helping one another on a humanitarian basis.

The frontliners must be well protected in order for them to take care of the sick and needy, so we are the ones dependent on them.

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