Technology pioneer honoured | The Star


Manufacturer earns state award for driving positive change with commitment to innovation

WITH a vision and a strong will to succeed, Datuk Bock Kim Lee embarked on a journey to transform the manufacturing ecosystem of Malaysia.

The senior vice-president of Global Flash Backend Operations at Western Digital is popularly known as KL Bock.

His vision was to turn Western Digital’s Batu Kawan plant (SanDisk Storage Malaysia, or SDSM) into a “lights-out” manufacturing facility.

Lights-out manufacturing is a production method that requires little to no human interaction – essentially running on its own, even in a dark, empty factory.

The innovative approach to manufacturing uses advanced robotics, Internet-of-Things (IOT), analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions to fully automate and integrate every step of the process.

It eliminates human dependencies and inefficiencies thereby improving predictability and significantly increasing productivity and customer satisfaction.

SDSM achieved the ambitious lights-out manufacturing goal in 2021 within six years.

It has since become Western Digital’s first memory backend operations in Malaysia and has paved the way for further ecosystem establishments in the industry.

That same year, the World Economic Forum recognised SDSM as an Advanced 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) Lighthouse in Malaysia, as well as the first Sustainability Lighthouse in Asia last year.

Sister facility SanDisk Semiconductor Shanghai (SDSS) was also named an Advanced 4IR Lighthouse as well as China’s first Sustainability Lighthouse.

All these would not have been possible without Bock’s visionary leadership and commitment to innovation and sustainability.

His contributions were recognised with the conferment of the ‘Datuk’ title under Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) in conjunction with the Penang Yang di-Pertua Negeri’s 74th birthday.

“This recognition rightfully goes to all the Global Flash Backend Operations employees who have contributed to this amazing journey,” Bock said during the conferment ceremony.

Looking to the future, Bock said he remained committed to driving positive change and maintaining SDSM as an organisation where various initiatives come together to make it a great place to work, learn, grow and innovate.

“These include a gamut of employee-led programmes that focus on holistic employee well-being, while cultivating a culture of life-long learning and high performance.

“Our site also has a chapter of WIN (Women’s Impact Network), an employee resource group that supports female talent and leadership development both within the company and in local communities.”

Testament to these efforts was Western Digital winning Talentbank’s Graduates’ Choice Award 2023 for the semiconductor industry.

This award highlights employer brands that consistently demonstrate excellence and innovation in their approach to attracting and retaining graduate talent from universities.

Bock’s impact extends beyond the corporate sphere as he also inspires and empowers through participation in semiconductor events and sustainability summits where he shares know-how and best practices with industry partners.

Since becoming a Global Lighthouse, SDSM has hosted representatives from over 45 industry players, education institutions and government bodies to share key learnings.

“We believe such collaborations can play a crucial role in elevating knowledge in 4IR and technology adoption across Malaysia.

“We continue to remain focused on building what’s next and designing the future of manufacturing,” Bok said.

His current role in Western Digital has him overseeing captive manufacturing, contract manufacturing, packaging technology development and integration, as well as supply chain in various locations across China, Malaysia, Taiwan, India and the United States.

He is also a distinguished member of several advisory boards such as Semicon South-East Asia, International Semiconductor Executive Summits South-East Asia (ISES) and Universiti Teknologi Petronas IR-ACE, where he helps to shape policies and drive impactful change.


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