A Q&A with TSL Group’s CEO on the modern transformation of digital disruption

Dale Benton
|May 18|magazine22 min read

As technology has continued to define, and redefine, industry sectors all over the world, how has this affected TSL Group and its operations?

The speed at which developing countries are embracing technology into their infrastructure is rapid. We spend a lot of time with manufacturers and industry leaders in discussing trends, innovation and how to deliver this into the market place. We guide customers and engineers in our markets to use best practice solutions to ensure that the technology that they are seeking is fit for purpose. In 2018 we delivered a solution with 200 dual tariff cloud based meters for a client to retrofit and install sub meters into their building. This offered our client cloud billing services, with an invoice to each of their tenants, showing a breakdown in usage and charge on utility and the generator supply.

How is TSL responding to the evolving landscape?

We have systems in place that allow us to trace the movement of each and every product, transaction, and customer and supplier account. We can very quickly produce reports and offer traceability on payment flows, product flows and order positions. All payments and receipts are done electronically. We are open to technology and if block chain technology can speed up the process of shipping goods internationally and securing payments, then this could be something of the future.

What are some of the key ways in which technology has transformed the business?

The ability to communicate via mobile, email, skype and WhatsApp make everybody in the chain connected. The speed at which communication takes place is incredible.

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You could be on a construction site, on any continent, or you could be up at 40,000ft on an aircraft, and we can all be connected, making things happen. We use cloud services for our internal and external written communications.

How has the digital transformation of industry created a culture shift at TSL? How important is change management?

It is how we manage this communication and set a standard for service, that will ensure our future success. We encourage all our staff to seek innovative solutions to overcome challenges, and improve existing methods. A daily 1% improvement in any segment of the business can have a massive impact over a year.

With digital transformation, the conversation is centred on technology, but how important is it to develop people and bring them along the journey?

We are continuously undertaking professional training as an organisation. We participate in product training workshops, software training, management and leadership training. The training is open to all, and we are always seeking ways in which to offer more product and skills training. Some of the training is on the job, at manufacturers training facilities or third-party providers.

Our people travel all over the world, to meet suppliers and customers, to attend trade exhibitions, conferences, seminars and assist in the commissioning of projects. This is incredibly important to us, as it allows us to embrace different cultures and develop an open mind set.

We also conduct training seminars for customers and consulting engineers in Europe and in Africa, to educate on standards, best practice and designs that focus on efficiency and value.

How important is sustainability in TSL’s operations?

As technology continuously evolves, buildings and infrastructure should become greener, have a reduced carbon footprint, and use sustainable and environmentally friendly products.

As part of our engagement with the market that we serve, we are always advocating this and if and where possible, guiding our clients to use sustainable solutions. Profit and price is not everything, but a respect for our environment, and leaving a sustainable legacy is.

What commitments does TSL have to go above and beyond?

Our overriding commitment is to help improve peoples’ lives. Delivering economical and efficient solutions, will help develop businesses, services and infrastructure allowing people to live, work and transit through a better environment.

In all the sectors that we deliver into, healthcare, education, office, retail, infrastructure, hospitality and residential, our solutions are committed to improving the lives of all. A commitment to products that meet standards, are safe, reliable and manufactured sustainably is paramount to our long-term commitment.

How important is it to develop the communities you work in?

We must seek to improve people’s lives in many ways, through social impact, assistance, education and guidance. In 2018, we have helped build boreholes in Kenya for communities where there is no accessible water for miles. We also participated in a week-long training project in Arusha, delivering presentations and workshops to helping businesses who have received micro finance loans to establish business practices and strategies for growth and financial stability. Helping small businesses to grow will create jobs and have a positive social impact on the community. We must always assist where we can.

What makes TSL different as an organisation?

Relationships with our suppliers and customers is key, and collaborating with them, with their teams and ours is fundamental to our success. Immersing into our customers perspective, allows us to understand the challenges that they face and we can then use our experience to solve these, and develop long term relationships.

Our market experience, product knowledge and ability to see things differently, make us stand out.

We focus on value added engineering, cost effective supply chain partnerships, performance in delivery and financial expertise, making us a partner of choice.

Nothing is impossible, we will always go that extra step to make things happen. In a business where we are offering and shipping products and services across the globe, there can be many challenges, from specification, financial, process and communication. We work hard to bridge and overcome these, and perform where others cannot. We must do whatever we can, with honesty, integrity and experience to perform and deliver.

What is one particular highlight of 2018 for TSL?

A recent highlight has been completing the supply of materials for Julius Nyerere International Airport’s Terminal 3, passenger terminal. We started work on this project several years ago, looking at the design and to see how we could add value. We introduced innovative products that had never been used before in Tanzania. We worked with the sub-contractor and main contractor in planning a supply chain process and ensuring a delivery programme to meet the project’s requirements. The project is due to complete in 2019. In 2018, we also supplied onto the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam, and the Cobre Panama Mine in Panama. The Cobre Panama Mine, is currently the largest infrastructure project in Panama.

What will 2019 have in store for TSL?

In 2019, we will be aiming to deliver a centralized DALI lighting control system with over 200 DALI circuits for a 5-star hotel in Nairobi. This will be able to control up to 8,000 light points. A project of this size, will be a first for East Africa. This is part of our strategy to offer the latest and most innovative solutions for our clients. We have worked with the client, the design team and the engineers to solve their design requirements and achieve value and innovation.

We want to continue our supply chain partnering with companies all over the world, and working with clients who want us to assist in delivering economic and technical value, within their delivery programmes.

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