Sights set on innovation in Singapore’s lean workforce

A number of high tech initiatives have been launched to help Singaporean firms boost productivity and remain competitive despite the current talent shortage

When asked about ways for businesses to promote further growth, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong simply stated, “The only thing you can do is productivity. Work smarter, work better and deliver results, and improve our lives.”
Since this interview, the government has since been pushing for greater productivity in local firms with several companies utilising innovative means to reach this ambitious goal.
DBS Bank has plans to invest S$200 million over the next three years in digital solutions to help other firms boost productivity without the need for extra staff. One of these is called FasTrack, technology to help food and beverage businesses handle ordering and payment processes via the internet.
With customers able to order in advance, peak time queues can be managed by a limited team of employees without any negative effects on the customer.
“In today's model where you rely on a queuing, ordering, standing in line ordering model, you find the experience is no good,” Jeremy Soo, managing director and head of consumer banking group (Singapore) at DBS Bank, told Channel NewsAsia.
“So this is why we want to target quick-serve business as the primary target because that is where they can extract the highest benefit from the productivity.”
In other developments, SEF SpaceHub was opened yesterday (23 September) in Kaki Bukit by construction company, SEF Group.
Created as an integrated construction and prefabrication hub, it aims to manufacture precast components for the industry in a manner that reduces manpower while raising production capacity. The fully automated system can work non-stop with several processes occurring simultaneously.
The number of workers needed will be reduced by up to 70% thanks to the new hub which takes up 26,000 square metres and cost over S$100 million to build. Work has already commenced for five different projects: a food hub, three nursing homes and a dormitory.
“With the manpower crunch and higher manpower costs now, this will lower operating costs,” Raymond Chan, project director of the SEF SpaceHub, said at the opening event yesterday.
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, Lee Yi Shyan, also spoke at the event.
“Raising construction productivity is a long-term undertaking. We are pleased to note that our efforts are showing results,” he said. “Site productivity has steadily improved at an average of 1.4 per cent per year over the last four years. Indeed, we have already achieved a two per cent improvement in 2014.”
Related stories:
PM says work smarter, work better and deliver results
Manpower minister lays out strategy for “future-ready” firms
Shape up or ship out: Singapore’s labour productivity in the spotlight

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