CREATING SYNERGY THROUGH DILIGENT LEADERSHIP – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT DIESEL & MOTOR ENGINEERING PLC, CHAMINDA RANAWANA

Chaminda Ranawana is a visionary that elevates country’s infrastructure development projects through a spectrum of industries from Construction & Mining Machinery, Integrated Water Supply & Fluid Management to Storage & Material Handling, while taking Sri Lanka to the next level.

In a career that has spanned over 30 years, he has introduced a plethora of technological advancements and systems across the infrastructure development domain. A product of St. Sylvester’s College in Kandy, a young Chaminda stepped into the corporate world as a trainee and gained vast knowledge in diverse disciplines, from production to industrial sales and marketing, while earning his MBA from Warnborough University, UK. Currently, he serves as an Executive Director at DIMO, and aside from his responsibilities on the Board, he also oversees the Infrastructure Engineering Business cluster, under which he manages many business verticals in the sales and services of Storage & Material Handling solutions, Integrated Water Supply & Fluid Management and a range of Construction & Mining Machinery that suits any application in the industry. He played an instrumental role in redefining DIMO’s product offering in the heavy machinery sphere, while expanding the company’s niche by providing integrated solutions in storage and material handling business. In the domain of water business, segregation was made between undertaking whole turnkey projects in water related and electromechanical work scope in building and industrial sectors to provide customised solutions in water management.

Chaminda was an enthusiastic boxer. The great sportsmanship he gained through boxing, cricket & football, and the invaluable experience as a cadet in his younger days, has helped him climb the corporate ladder throughout his career. “The credibility, dedication and commitment which I inculcated throughout my entire career has helped me to elevate the standards in the business and remain in the industry for so long”, said Chaminda.

Sustainability plays an integral part in Chaminda’s portfolio at DIMO and under his leadership, as a long-standing contractor in implementing state-of-the-art water projects for the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB), DIMO has implemented many water projects in rural areas and provided millions of households with access to safe drinking water. The Ambatale Energy Conservation Project, the largest energy conservation project of NWSDB which facilitated a 16% reduction in energy cost, was yet another significant milestone achieved by DIMO under his leadership. Chaminda went on to comment about the importance of sustainability across business verticals. “Water projects are widely known to be exceedingly energy consuming projects and with our expertise, we offer best energy efficient technologies to get the desired outcome through low energy consumption. In the construction machinery segment, the introduction of Komatsu hybrid excavator for the first time in Sri Lanka that leads to a sustainable environment, was a significant move. In the material handling and storage business, switching the market from internal combustion engines to electric engines was another sustainable approach. It is imperative that we introduce energy efficient solutions that improve productivity and sustainability. Our global partnerships have already been, and will continue to be, greatly beneficial to this process.”

Chaminda was actively involved in the introduction of the ‘Ship to Shelf’ process to DIMO’s material handling and storage business, which was initially all about the selling of forklifts and racking systems. However, this progressed into integrated and sustainable material handling and warehousing solutions, which was developed by expanding the total horizon of product portfolio to provide the most comprehensive solutions to many different applications in the industry. Additionally, DIMO also provides warehousing design knowledge and consultancy services, while continuously improving material handling efficiency and operational accuracy. 

DIMO acts as a solution provider in the ‘Ship to Shelf’ process. The ‘Ship to Shelf’ process includes unloading of containers via ‘ship-to-shore’ cranes or ‘quay cranes’, which are then transferred to storage through terminal tractors. The containers are then stacked in port before being transported and delivered via road transport in RTG/RMG cranes and reach stackers. Thereafter, the container is moved to a logistic centre, where dock solutions such as Dock Levellers, Shelters, Doors, Restraint systems etc. assist in the seamless transfer of goods from the container to the warehouse. Forklifts are used to move the goods and store utilizing the ‘vertical space’ with modern storage solutions and racking systems, creating a clear and concise system at the warehouse. The empty container is then sent back to the inland container terminal and stacked at the yard using empty container handlers.

“Today we have become a pioneer in offering world-class integrated storage and material handling solutions, partnering with many world-renowned brands, to the country’s supply chain operation from the point of a container is being unloaded at the port to de-stuff goods from the container at a warehouse and sending the container back to the inland container terminal. Further facilitating local material handling and storage business we also provide rentals of equipment and fixed maintenance contracts for terminal and warehouse operators”, he added.

DIMO also facilitates an extensive aftersales service for all the equipment via a highly qualified technical team while providing a 360°, 24×7 customer care, including audits & preventive maintenance, and spare parts, backed by over eight decades of DIMO trust.

Sharing his thoughts on how the business coped with the pandemic and the economic challenges, Chaminda stated, “The decision-making process became challenging due to the overnight changes in the economic policies and financial markets. New building constructions, infrastructure development projects, warehouse expansions and more came to a standstill. The depreciation of LKR against USD, and the restrictions placed on opening LCs has posed quite a challenge to the business.  We had to look at sustainable opportunities of diverting the stocks we had into overseas markets and work with BOI customers. We considered several new ventures to overcome the challenges. This included working with 3PL companies to expand their current capacities within the same locations, due to the high demand stemming from the slowdown in the construction of private warehouses and the increase in raw material prices. As a result of this, DIMO acts as a consultant by providing the expertise and the modern 3PL solutions with the help of its valued suppliers.

“There was even a transition from a manpower dependency to automation, which was especially needed during the lockdowns. Today, there are warehouses and port terminals across the world that are fully automated. While introducing its partners’ solutions in automation, DIMO also monitors the process, controls the systems, provides training, and assists with troubleshooting”, he added.

On a final note, Chaminda shared some inspiring wisdom to the up-and-coming leaders of the industry. “Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, and the many other challenges we face, it is imperative that we embrace this new  VUCA world of business. It’s time for the young entrepreneurs to challenge the issues that arise from external environmental factors and come up with solutions to overcome them. I encourage young people in Sri Lanka, engaged in various organisations, to always be ready to expand their horizons and embrace changes, rather than focussing on the standard processes. Let your creative mindset flourish through all your endeavours and develop entrepreneurial skills to help you become intrapreneurs in your own working environment, which will give you the edge as it did for me throughout my career.”

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