Skip to main content

Singapore industry delegation learn from Japanese enterprises on innovative and sustainable lean technologies

  1. Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck went on a Lean Enterprise Development (LED) study mission to Japan from 16 April 2017 to 21 April 2017 to learn about new technologies to enhance productivity and reduce manpower reliance in the manufacturing and services sectors. He led a 19-strong Singapore delegation, which included Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) president Douglas Foo as well as representatives of local companies and government agencies.
  2. The Singapore delegation visited 17 enterprises and organisations in Tokyo, Takasaki and Osaka, including the Takasaki City Government, OWNDAYS, MORINAGA and OMRON.
    The Japanese experience - Technological and Robotics Solutions
  3. During the trip, the delegation was given insights into some of the productivity and manpower-lean solutions that Japanese enterprises had implemented to enhance efficiency. For example, a 100-room hotel fully integrated with robotics solutions, reduced its manpower need by operating with only seven backroom staff. 
  4. An e-commerce company leveraged big data captured from its online purchasing platform, to anticipate surges in demand and increase the stock for specific products in a timely manner. The company’s 2016 sales totalled over USD600 million, with an average of 40,000 new customers every month. To cater to the high demand and ensure efficiency, fully automated robots were used to transport products within its distribution centre. Technology has allowed the company to scale and aggregate demand more effectively through the internet as well as enhance its productivity. 
  5. Sharing his thoughts, Mr Teo said: “Japanese enterprises are known for their innovation and constant striving for improvement. Better quality jobs are created in the process and the workers understand the need to learn new skills to take on the higher value work. The delegation has learned how innovation is an integral part of Japanese company’s culture. We have seen first-hand how technology plays an important role in a company’s lean transformation journey.” 
  6. “This mission has provided an opportunity for us to learn and be exposed to the good practices by Japanese enterprises. Besides leveraging technology to enhance productivity, lower manpower reliance, they also adopt progressive HR practices to motivate employees in embracing business model innovation and new innovation-driven productivity practices” said Mr Foo, president of SMF.
  7. Describing the Japan trip as fruitful, Mr Harry Toh, Director of Orchid Laundry, a family run business, said: “I saw how Japanese firms are making use of automation and Internet of things (IoT) technologies, which are strategies that can be implemented for my company as we are expecting to ramp up our business.”
    Imperative for enterprises to innovate to thrive in manpower-lean environment 
  8. Summing up the trip, Mr Teo reiterated the need for Singapore enterprises to innovate to thrive in a manpower-lean environment. To help enterprises go digital and adopt pre-qualified solutions, the priority of LED task force agencies this year is to make innovation more pervasive in the business community. He said: “We are supporting companies that adopt the 71 solutions pre-qualified by IMDA and other sector agencies such as SPRING Singapore. These ready-to-go solutions can be adopted quickly by enterprises to help improve their productivity and reduce manpower reliance. Those that are keen to transform can apply for assistance in their lean enterprise development efforts under the LED Scheme.”
  9. Firms which are interested to find out how to leverage digitisation or technology adoption in their business are encouraged to approach any SME Centres.