Body cameras, drones and a command centre to make pest control more efficient

SINGAPORE - A pest control company is using body cameras and drones to make the work of itsstaff more efficient.

PestBusters opened its Operations Command Centre on Wednesday (Feb 3), a first-of-its-kind productivity initiative that makes use of the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) Inclusive Growth Programme.

The $100 million fund started by the Labour Movement in 2010 helps industries redesign and improve productivity, while gains are shared with workers through higher wages.

The New Industrial Road command centre, which cost about $350,000, will have a central viewing station where supervisors can watch live footage streaming in from the body cameras worn by workers across the island.

They can thus coach several workers at once, unlike previously, when a supervisor would have to be on-site to guide each pest control officer.

The company will also use drones to inspect hard-to-reach areas such as roof gutters and bee hives on trees.

Drone pilot Mohammad Romzi, 46, said that this would allow inspections to be done in about one-sixth the time required for pest control officers to do the checks in person.

He added that it would make work safer for the officers, who need no longer climb ladders to peer into gutters. The drones can even spray chemicals on the bee hives from the air.

PestBusters chief executive Thomas Fernandez said he hopes the new developments would make what is generally considered to be a tedious, manual job more attractive.

He said he would have needed to add 10 to 20 more new employees to his 120-strong staff in order to keep expanding the company. "I can't grow the top line, and at the same time I'm having a hike on the bottom line because every year my workers look for bonuses and salary increases."

He added: "But if I can improve productivity, I need not depend so much on the manpower. I can use the same strength of people to do more jobs."

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who was the guest of honour at the opening, commended PestBusters on taking the initiative to trim manpower and improve workplace safety through technology. "If you make jobs easier, safer and smarter, not only will productivity improve, but job satisfaction will be greater as well," he said.