SINGAPORE - Japanese electronics giant Panasonic is moving its global HQ for its refrigeration compressor business to Singapore as it transforms its operations here to prepare for future growth, Minister of Manpower Lim Swee Say announced on Friday morning (April 7).
This will be the first such relocation outside of Japan in recent decades, Mr Lim noted in a speech at the official opening of Panasonic's Refrigeration Compressor Business Unit (RCBU) in Singapore.
The company's research & development centre in Singapore will also be scaled up to spearhead R&D for new products and emerging refrigeration technologies for Panasonic's global operations. The 50-man R&D team is expected to more than double in size as it takes on this new role, said Mr Lim.
Panasonic's Singapore plant, which now employs 1,300 staff, is also transforming its operations from traditional manufacturing to a digitally-enabled smart factory with a manufacturing control tower, said Mr Lim.
With these changes, Singapore will become Panasonic's global HQ for its refrigeration compressor business, he noted.
Mr Lim also said that even as technology disrupts jobs, it can result in better jobs through improved productivity and workers upgrading their skills, he said.
He noted that at Panasonic, the upgrading of their operations has increased the median salary of local staff by 35 per cent.
Panasonic has also been grooming locals to take up leadership roles in the company, not just locally but also globally, as it prioritise strengthening the "Singaporean Core", said the minister.
He cited the example of Mr Khoo Chew Thong, who started Panasonic Singapore's RCBU R&D department in 1988 from scratch. Mr Khoo built up a team of engineers and technicians undertaking the full range of compressor design and development activities, from product planning to regulatory compliance.
With the set-up of RCBU's global HQ in Singapore, Mr Khoo will be managing the business development of the RCBU group of companies worldwide, beyond the regional market. He will also take on new responsibilities to manage intellectual property rights for RCBU.