Markono Print Media has been focused on automation and becoming more manpower-lean so as to provide more value-added services to its clients in areas beyond just printing, said managing director Edwin Ng.
Mr Ng, a panellist at the roundtable, said moving to a new factory a year ago gave the 51-year-old company a good opportunity to adopt more automation.
That led it to tap the LED scheme for an automated storage and retrieval system as it was looking for ways to expand, yet reduce its reliance on staff.
At the same time, Markono bought new highly automated offset printing presses. That cut the number of machines by 30 per cent and reduced the amount of staff required to operate them while reaping the bonus of an additional 5 per cent increase in output.
"When we installed the new equipment, staff had to be trained to operate the new machines, relieving them of some manual tasks. In the process they were able to work more efficiently, thus raising productivity," said Mr Ng.
He cited another example of the firm's manpower reduction: Four to five workers were once needed to pack printed books in cartons but a new robotic arm means the job is now done by two employees.
The firm also uses automated guided vehicles in its warehouse, enabling it to achieve the same throughput for orders with half the manpower previously required.
Installing an automated line for printing plate inspection, bending and sorting has reduced the manpower in that department from a supervisor and four workers to just the supervisor.
This has allowed the company to redeploy the four workers to other departments with manpower constraints.
Mr Ng told the roundtable: "We want to develop more digital capabilities in our staff to help our customers with more holistic solution."
He noted that Markono is a long-established company so change does not come easily: "It takes time and perseverance to produce the desired results and get buy-in from our colleagues.
"But you have to try. My advice to other enterprises would be to embark on baby steps to start the LED scheme journey to become manpower-lean and raise productivity."