Cultivating new opportunities through robotics

Singapore is banking in on robots to create new job opportunities in the manufacturing sector, says Minister S Iswaran.

By Nayela Deeba
Nov. 14, 2016


Robots will create new opportunities for our industry, especially opportunities in manufacturing. A study by Boston Group revealed that adoption of robots has the potential to raise worker output by 30 percent, in 2025, and lower manufacturing costs by 16 percent.

"Robotics may diminish the need for certain job types but will also create new job opportunities in the manufacturing sector. One example is the upgrading of machine operators to become robot coordinators, who will be responsible for overseeing and maintaining a fleet of robots. By streamlining labour requirements and freeing up resources, robotics will also help address Singapore's manpower constraints and boost productivity amidst a tight labour market," S Iswaran, Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry, said at the recent Singapore International Robo Expo (SIRE) .

Iswaran also stressed that opportunities in services will be altered. One example is the launch of CHART  in the healthcare industry last year, which opened new doors to innovation and deployment of healthcare robotics solutions.

"We are looking at technology to help alleviate demand for additional 41,000 healthcare professionals including people who clean, and do manual work in hospitals.  Driving adoption and development in four public sector domains: transportation, healthcare, environment and security. Together manufacturing and supply chain are important sectors(?)," explained Haryanto Kurniawon Tan, Head, Precision Engineering, Singapore Economic Development Board.

Furthermore, the government is fully supportive of additive technology initiatives, and a budget of S$450 million which has been set aside for investment and integration of research plans.

"The government will continue to support our companies and workforce to adopt new technologies as part of our industry transformation efforts," added Iswaran.

Skills advancements

The government will provide a range of courses and programmes which will help machine operators deepen their technical competencies on new skill developments.

In fact, in February 2016, Workforce Singapore (WSG) launched a range of masterclasses in additive manufacturing and advanced robotics, through which, at least 250 professionals, managers and technicians gained relevant training.

New projects and initiatives

As Singapore is gearing towards the Smart Nation vision, certain projects prove that robotics will work out in future. For instance, Changi Airport's Terminal 5 will integrate emerging technology in its operations, said Tan.

Technical Aspects

Various demonstrations featuring robots that have gone through development were showcased at SIRE. An example is "Hugo" the robot, which was featured in an interactive video. The video showed Hugo easily completing the construction work that is normally done manually by workers on a day-to-day basis.

"[Such a] solution is going to solve our integrating/industrial [issues] in Singapore, such as the manpower crunch," said Professor Ang-Wei Tech, Associate Chair(Research), NTU.

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