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Speech at LED Symposium

Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel

  1. This Symposium is all about transforming our businesses into Lean Enterprises.
  2. Why do need to transform? I think many speakers before me have talked about this - either we self-disrupt or we are disrupted by the competition.
  3. Why do we need to be lean, especially manpower lean?
  4. With ageing and low birth rate, our local workforce is growing much slower, and may stagnate in the next decade. So in other words, 10 years from now, the local workforce will stop growing.
  5. With foreign manpower growing much slower too, our challenge is to ensure that this sharp drop in our total workforce growth will not become the bottleneck in the future growth of our economy and also for your businesses.
  6. To break this manpower bottleneck of the future, the tripartite partners have therefore come together to jointly spearhead this Lean Enterprise Development Scheme (LEDS for short) since October last year.
  7. These partners are NTUC and e2i of the labour movement, the trade associations and chambers such as the SNF, and key agencies including SPRING, WSG, IMDA, STB, EDB, BCA, and so on.
  8. We are here to provide one-stop support to help our SMEs to build new capability so that they can grow better, to build new capacity so that you can grow bigger, to build new market to grow faster, and to build new human capital to grow stronger.
  9. In other words, all of us coming together to meet all your needs all the four areas, if you want to build new capabilities come to us.
  10. To build new capacity, come to us.
  11. New markets? Come to us.
  12. All of us are here to support you. You don't have to worry about which agency among us will support you in terms of new capabilities or human capital. It doesn't matter. We are a one stop service. You just have to come to any one of us to sort out the optimum scheme for you. So that you can move ahead as quickly as possible.
  13. The responses from our SMEs in the last one year have been constructive and encouraging.
  14. Over 1,400 companies have joined us on this journey of lean transformation.
  15. And not just lean in terms manpower, but also lean in the use of materials, energy, water and space, and so on. In short, in the process of trying to cut waste to zero in every major aspect of the operations.
  16. In the course of our outreach, we have come across different types of SMEs.
  17. First, the “un-initiated”. These SMEs are not aware and they do not see the need to transform, at least initially when we reach out to them.
  18. So we help them understand not the “how and what”, but the “why” – that in a manpower lean economy of the future, it cannot be business as usual.
  19. They need to transform today, if they want to grow tomorrow. So the first thing is to get them to understand why the need to transform. Because if you cannot get over this 'why' there will be no 'how' or 'what' to talk about.
  20. Second, are the SMEs are “willing but unable”. These SMEs they see the need to transform, but do not know how.  So, we help bring in the consultants to guide them and assist them.
  21. Craftmark is a distributor and retailer of over 20 brands of footwear and leather goods & accessories. To compete in an increasingly competitive environment, Craftmark wants to develop that special edge but they don’t know how.
  22. So, they joined the Operations Management Innovation (OMNI) Programme, supported by Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore. So the three agencies come together to run this OMNI and supported the company.
  23. They improved to become more lean and productive and more competitive and they piloted RFID at their front-of-house operations to cut down the man hours required for stock taking, as you heard earlier.
  24. As a result, workers can be deployed to take on more productive jobs.
  25. Thirdly, are the “able and willing but can’t afford”. These SMEs they see the need to transform. They know how to transform, but do not have the resources to make it happen. So, we help them with funding support.
  26. The Soup Spoon is a good illustration. It faced labour shortages as they expand their network of local outlets. At the same time, they want to expand overseas to sustain growth. So, they decided to expand upstream from food retail to food manufacturing as well.
  27. With the funding support of SPRING, they automated the packaging process and they are now 25% more manpower lean. They are on their way from being a local SME to becoming a regional Singapore SME.
  28. Onn Wah Tech is another good example. One part of its operations involved a tedious and pin-insertion process. But, each pin is only 0.08 to 0.12mm in diameter, and the operators had to insert 5,000 of these pins into the tiny little holes.
  29. Staff turnover was high and they knew they had to automate the process. After many trials, they finally found a supplier that was able to develop a customised solution for them, to meet their needs. With funding support from SPRING, they were able to install the automated equipment.
  30. This pin-insertion process is two times faster, but more importantly, it needs only one worker instead of four workers as in the past. The transformation of production process also gives the workers a chance to adapt and grow.
  31. 54-year-old Mr Ramli Bin Abu Bakar was able to pick up new skills, increase his productivity, and enjoy a higher quarterly performance bonus.
  32. This is a win-win outcome between the workers and the operations.
  33. Fourth, the “bridge of change”.
  34. Some solutions are non-viable for individual companies, but they can become viable when a group of companies band together.
  35. Take the construction sector for example. To be more manpower lean, BCA advocates the adoption of productive building methods and technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM). It is the use of 3D modelling software to document and share important building information among all the stakeholders.
  36. So to succeed, for us to realize the full gravity gain of the construction sector, now we need the architects upstream to use BIM to design the building and to put all the important information to model the building.
  37. But at the same time at the midstream we need to main contractors and at the downstream the sub-contractors would need all of them to come on board to use BIM as well to improve productivity across the entire value chain.
  38. Tiong Seng, a market leader in construction, they decided to transform its ecosystem by helping its sub-contractors to adopt BIM, with training, hardware and software support.
  39. Tiong Seng shows us how major players in the industry can help their smaller business associate and partners to transform together, and not be left behind.
  40. Last but not the least, the “industry transformer”.
  41. The Container Depot Association of Singapore (CDAS) is playing a key role in transforming the entire industry.
  42. Previously, without an electronic central system, 1,500 drivers sitting in 1500 trucks coming from 200 companies had to communicate with the depots, ports and their HQs everyday using their walkie talkies and mobile phones. So communication was messy and highly inefficient. They also had to do registration and documentation manually and additional hours were wasted on resolving disputes when there are damages.
  43. CDAS decided that all this must change, we must not only become lean enterprises but the entire industry must also become a lean industry.They got the support from SPRING and WSG to introduce the Electronic Container Trucking System (eCTS). eCTS enables registration and clearance to be obtained prior to arrival via a single point of communication, through a smart device.
  44. As a result, these 1,500 drivers and trucks from the 200 companies are ableto reduce their queuing time by 30%. Less queuing time means more time to make more trips, and more trips mean more pay for the truck drivers. And also more profit for the companies.
  45. As a result of this, I think the whole industry is transformed. This is indeed a remarkable example of how transformation can not only benefit the industry itself, but also the other industries served by them.

  46. The sharing today by these LEDS companies shows us that if there is a will, there is a way, for all of us to transform and grow.
  47. Whether you are doing it as an individual companies or an industry group, our LEDS agencies are here to serve you, to support you.
  48. Everyone needs to transform. Everyone can transform.
  49. And if we transform together, we can all transform faster.
  50. Manpower led growth is our past.
  51. Manpower lean growth is our future.
  52. Why not be a pioneer and early adopter? Breakaway from our present, transform and grow Into a Lean Enterprise of tomorrow, as symbolised by the new logo we are launching for LEDS today.
  53. I wish you an exciting and rewarding journey into the future.