Businesses that fit like a glove

By forging strong relationships with loyal customers, Maersk Line and MCC Transport carry the bulk of Malaysia’s rubber glove exports, which comprise over 60% of global volume and facilitate the delivery of a simple but vital medical product worldwide.

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Supermax is the biggest exporter of rubber gloves to Latin America, and also to

How do you wrap your head around the whopping figure of 19 billion pairs of rubber gloves? Here’s how – it’s enough to give everyone in the world a pair and still have about five billion gloves left over. This is how many gloves Supermax, a Malaysian rubber company and one of the top two producers of rubber medical examination gloves in the world, churns out annually.

By next year, they plan to increase yearly output to 24 billion. Demand is expected to rise as countries like China modernise and increase their medical facilities, and with strong ties to the rubber glove trade internationally and locally, Maersk is strongly positioned in the global market.

Growing fast

“In the last two to three years, Supermax realised that they were growing very fast and needed a leading mega carrier to support their market,” Maersk Line Assistant General Manager Yap Chorng Lin explains. Maersk Line is now the main carrier for Supermax, and ships over 400 forty-foot containers (FFEs) of its cargo worldwide.

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Assistant General Manager Yap Chorng Lin, Maersk Line Malaysia.

Medical examination gloves are not like furniture or other consumer goods where minor delays can be tolerated. This is a medical product, and it has to always be available in hospitals.

YAP CHORNG LIN, ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER MAERSK LINE

Supermax is the biggest exporter of rubber gloves to Latin America, and also to the US and Europe.

“We have a strong engagement with our colleagues in Brazil. They are proactive in linking up with clients. For example, some containers were stuck in Brazil and the office there reacted very fast to expedite them so that Supermax could answer to its customers,” says Yap.

To underscore just how important the export item is, Yap points out:

“Medical examination gloves are not like furniture or other consumer goods where minor delays can be tolerated. This is a medical product, and it has to always be available in hospitals. Maersk Line’s reliability ensures this.”

Growing importance

Supermax, which exports almost 100% of their products, has been expanding at over 20% annually for the last 13 years since it went public. Two new factories will be built next year, in line with the intention to increase output.

Supermax founder and Group Executive Chairman Dato’ Seri Stanley Thai says that the company can capitalise heavily from streamlining its supply chain, from support to logistics services. “Being a major player in the shipping industry, Maersk Line contributes significantly to our continued growth,” he says.

One way in which Maersk Line supports Supermax is through space commitment for containers, even during the peak season.

“For example, if we log in ten containers per week for Supermax, this is guaranteed, and they will not face rejection or the rolling of cargo. Theirs is a round-the-clock operation across nine factories where about 600 gloves are produced every second, and production rates are in sync with our sailing schedules. They cannot afford any form of delay,” Maersk Line Assistant General Manager Yap Chorng Lin explains.

Loyal ties in Asia
On the intra-Asia front, Maersk Line’s sister company MCC Transport handles regional volumes for companies such as Titi Latex, another of Malaysia’s leading rubber glove manufacturers. MCC carries up to 30% of their client’s total volumes, mainly to Shanghai and Qingdao in China.

Jimson Poon, an account manager for MCC Transport, relates how they scored their contract with Titi Latex:

“When I contacted them, they were having lots of logistical challenges. For example, they had some clauses in their documentation that could not be complied with, and we worked with them to sort out their supply chain issues.”

Besides carrying finished products to intra-Asia markets, MCC is also involved in triangulation shipping for Titi Latex, according to Poon.

“Their raw materials come from a factory that they own in Vietnam. So we ship the processed latex from the factory in Vietnam to Malaysia, and then the finished product from Malaysia to China. This is more business for us since there are two legs, and the client saves by re-using the same container,” Poon explains.

Despite challenges such as high tariffs from China that are passed down to the consignee, Poon says Titi Latex remains loyal. He visits the client’s warehouse in Kuala Lumpur once a week to see if MCC can offer them any help.

“We have a good relationship across the organisation, not just with their top management,” he says.

Rubber gloves by numbers

  • Medical examination gloves are the main rubber product that Malaysia exports, amounting to MYR 7.15 billion in export value last year. This is expected to grow to MYR 25 billion by 2020.
  • Malaysia controls 61% of the world’s rubber glove market, and this is expected to increase to 65%. The industry is considered to be recession-proof and has recorded

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“Being a major player in the shipping industry, Maersk Line contributes significantly to our continued growth,” says Supermax founder and Executive Chairman, Dato’ Seri Stanley Thai. Photo: Thorbjørn Hansen