- POSTED: 26 Dec 2013 23:23
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According to latest figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, some S$330 million has been committed for productivity initiatives as of September this year. The funds went to some 15,000 companies, of which 90 per cent are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
SINGAPORE: Some S$330 million has been committed for productivity initiatives as of September this year.
That is according to latest figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The funds went to some 15,000 companies, of which 90 per cent are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Catering firm Rasel said cooking time has been halved to 15 minutes since it started using a deep fryer, compared to the traditional wok and stove method.
And because the deep fryer maintains the oil at a constant temperature, the oil can be recycled twice as frequently.
Chris Loh, creative director of Rasel Catering Singapore, said: "For the traditional method, the chef will need to wait for the oil to cool down… to filter off the oil, and that can be quite hazardous. But for this deep fryer, you have the automatic trolley, drainage, where (the oil) can be drained off automatically. And it saves the environment because the oil can be recycled and cleaned very frequently for the frying."
Meanwhile, a combination oven allows multiple dishes to be made at the same time.
For example, three dishes can be cooked in half an hour instead of two hours.
These machines free up labour to work on other tasks, but they require a sizeable initial capital investment of about S$200,000.
Rasel said it managed to get up to 45 per cent of the sum funded by SPRING's Capability Development Grant.
As Singapore enters its fifth year of restructuring in 2014, more local SMEs like Rasel have tapped government funding to increase the use of automation.
But as more machines replace manpower, some analysts said bouts of higher transitional unemployment could be expected.
Irvin Seah, a senior economist at DBS Bank, said: "Definitely, there will be some element of that. However, having said that, the government has been tightening the inflow of foreign workers. That, to some extent, may have created some substitution effects -- basically, increasing the demand for local workers. And that, to a large extent, would have helped keep the unemployment rate for the resident workers in check."
Industry experts said SMEs can also boost productivity by increasing its top line. This, for example, can be done by breaking into new overseas markets, where profit margins may be higher.
Victor Tay, chief operating officer of the Singapore Business Federation, said: "Singapore does have a window of opportunity where our SMEs can ride on. One, our branding, our reputation, and to a certain extent, our SMEs are perhaps more structured, and they should conquer… some of these regional markets before the AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) 2015 comes. And by then, I think you'll see the other economies' SMEs will be a lot more competitive and stronger than us."
Higher productivity does not necessarily have to be achieved through massive capital investments in machinery or in expansion.
SPRING Singapore said companies can also improve productivity through increasing their range of products and services, or by raising service quality.