Research & Development Overview

As a fully-integrated palm oil producer, our R&D capabilities encompass all research area requirements across the value chain. Through our strategic and operational R&D, we are committed towards developing, applying and transferring relevant knowledge, research findings and technologies to improve our plantation yields, milling processes and customise our downstream products.

Research & Development Capacity:
  • 5 Research & Development Centres in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
  • 3 Innovation Centres in Malaysia, the Netherlands and South Africa.
  • 1 fully operational genetic testing facility in Malaysia to commercialise high yielding oil palm with secondary traits for harvesting efficiency and climate resilience.
  • Over 200 scientists and researches worldwide.
Research & Development

Yield Productivity Improvements
  • Elite planting materials
  • Develop best practices
  • Productivity improvements
  • Advisory, audit and training

Increase Revenue Streams
  • Market leader in planting materials
  • High value oils and fats products
  • Exploit value of co-products
  • Commercial patent strategy

Sustainable Practices
  • Develop green technologies and products; reduce chemicals
  • Reduce GHG emissions
  • Improve and sustain soil fertility

Main Units:
  1. Plantation Research
    • Ensuring the well-being of our estates, usage of best planting materials and good agricultural practices.
    • Also focuses on fertiliser application, coordinates R&D trainings for our estates and mills, and develops mechanisation solutions.
    • Research and services in the area of sustainability .

  2. Biotechnology and Breeding
    • Leads continuous improvement in yield and other desirable economic traits in oil palm and rubber planting materials using ultra advanced genomics and tissue culture technologies.
    • Also conducts strategic research in applied chemistry and biotechnology to support the value chain and ensures sustainable planting of high yielding palms.

  3. Processing Technology
    • Recommends improvements to mill and refinery processes and provides laboratory analysis, and product development.

  4. Oils & Fats
    • Conducts fundamental research on downstream palm products and transfers technology to our innovation centres and subsidiaries for customised product development.

  5. Innovation Centres
    • Provide technical services to our global customers, develop new products and provide technical support to our refineries.

  6. Seeds and Agricultural Services
    • Through SD Seeds & Agricultural, Dami Oil Palm Research Station (“Dami OPRS”) which is owned by NBPOL, and PT ASL, we mass produce elite oil palm planting materials for internal and external customers and provide estate consultancy services.

  7. Environmental, Safety and Health
    • Facilitates and undertakes initiatives relating to quality, environmental issues, occupational, safety and health issues and sustainability within our operations.
Past Notable Achievements

Calix 600
Superior yielding Oil Palms originating from elite parental lines.

Sime Darby’s Calix 600 oil palm seed comes with highly advanced characteristics as it is bred from elite parental lines –Deli Dura as the mother palm and AVROS Pisifera as the father palm. The seed gives early or better yields, up to 10 tonnes per ha/year after 24 to 36 months of field planting. The homogenous growth of the seeds improves the efficiency of field operations.
  • Calix 600 is produced from years of scientific research excellence gathered from Guthrie, Golden Hope and Sime Darby originating from elite parental lines
  • Its superior oil yield could produce up to 10mt/ha/yr with an earlier production of fresh fruit bunch (FFB)
  • Calix 600 promises high early yield, thin shell, thick mesocarp. Its homogenous growth provides more efficient field operations
  • Calix 600 offers unprecedented quality and superior oil yield as far as oil palm plantation is concerned.


Enzyme Technology to Tailor Fat Functionality

We are continuously aiming for new formulations based on healthier vegetable oils and fats that have the right nutritional balance and simultaneously provide the desired taste and texture of foods. Sime Darby Plantation uses modern enzyme technology to tailor functional properties of vegetable oils. This technology is mainly used to manufacture high quality hardstocks for application in consumer spreads and bakery margarines. The enzyme technology is 'greener' as it uses less energy, does not use chemicals and eliminates waste water.

Sime Darby R&D Laboratory Services Recognized as World-Class
Lab services was awarded the Institut Kimia Malaysia (IKM) President Laboratory Award for 2014. The award is the most prestigious one handed out by IKM and is bestowed upon the lab that has demonstrated excellent achievement in the practice of chemistry. SDR Labs was nominated in the highly competitive Laboratories from Industry category where it won against competition such as Petronas Labs.
The following are some of the key initiatives carried out by our R&D in the Financial Year Ended 30 June 2017 :
  1. Genome Select high yielding planting materials

    We planted 100 Ha of land with the first product from our proprietary genome technology, the Genome Select high yielding oil palm. This planting material can potentially deliver 15% higher oil yield than our Group’s current commercial offering, Calix 600.

    The upscaling of the seed production is underway and we plan to plant a further 500 Ha of land with the Genome Select seedlings by April 2018. We will continue to upscale seed production to fully supply to all our replanting requirements in Malaysia by 2023.

  2. Climate change and water

    We have established initiatives and research programmes to collect data on climate and plant physiology to understand, through modelling, the effects of soil water level on the performance of oil palm. Combined with water flow mapping, the technologies we are evaluating would mitigate the adverse effects of water deficit and excess, as well as provide real-time information to estate managers. This would help to ensure optimum water penetration and distribution in the soil, and also to minimise the surface runoff of soil and agronomic inputs such as fertiliser.

  3. Precision agriculture

    We need to manage a vast amount of information to ensure optimum performance of our plantations. We often require dedicated manpower for our operations but this is still subject to human error. Our objective is to minimise manpower requirements and enhance the integrity of information collected.

    One of the platforms being actively tested is unmanned aerial vehicles, which is used to take images of the plantations. We develop and test the methods to evaluate the parameters we are interested in such as planting plans, location and health of trees to support estates in maximising palm health and productivity. These efforts will lead towards a more efficient resource management, optimum plant performance and improved traceability of products, and allow for early identification of undesirable events such as pest infestation and disease.

  4. Mechanisation

    The goal for mechanisation is not just cost efficiency but also to eliminate undesired outcomes in other closely-linked business processes. We have dedicated teams developing solutions for mechanisation and automation of key steps in the palm oil value chain from seed production to estate and mill operations. Some on-going initiatives include the tracking of individual seeds for traceability, the use of loose fruit collectors for improved collecting efficiency, improving laboratory testing, and mill process monitoring automation.

  5. Oil extraction enhancement

    We are at the final stage of evaluating an improved method of extracting palm oil. Upon successful evaluation, it is estimated that our OER will increase by 1%. We also have a programme working on recovering oil wastage during the oil mill processes. This would not only generate additional value but also support our target for zero discharge from the oil mills.

  6. Superior palm oil

    We continuously work towards developing new products and improving the quality and sustainability of our products. We are currently upscaling the production of new types of superior quality palm oil using our proprietary technologies. The benefits from these superior quality palm oils are higher functionality, longer shelf life and better health properties. Such superior grade oils could secure us better access to the markets and command a premium for the quality they deliver.

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