Logistics firms, workers to benefit from enhanced plan to boost sector's digital transformation

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling (second from left) at the facility of local logistics player IM Holdings on Aug 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - About 86,300 workers in the logistics sector are expected to benefit from a enhanced industry digital plan that will help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) tailor training programmes to meet workers' needs in various job roles.

The plan also sets out digital solutions for SMEs at different stages of growth, providing an online self-assessment checklist that could help them identify opportunities for improvement.

About 5,300 SMEs in the industry will get a boost from it, including providers of air transport support services which are newly added to the list of beneficiaries.

This latest plan, which builds on an earlier one launched in 2017 to help logistics firms build their digital capabilities, was launched by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling on Friday (Aug 14).

The inclusion of air transport support services will pave the way for such companies to be more efficient by using digital systems and real-time data, said Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority. They had jointly led the enhancement of the plan.

Speaking to the media at the facility of local logistics player IM Holdings, Ms Low said that since the plan's introduction three years ago, 90 per cent of companies that adopted it have seen an improvement in manpower and efficiency, and more than half have reduced their operating expenses.

More than 40 per cent of these firms have also gained new insights in operations and asset utilisation, she added.

Five new solutions, including digital trade platform and efficient energy management, have been added to the enhanced plan for SMEs to carry out real-time, data-driven decision-making and support digital collaboration among stakeholders in the supply chain.

Under its training road map, digital skills are classified into two categories - tech basics and tech advanced - to provide more tailored support for workers.

IM Holdings is among the SMEs that have gained from digitalisation efforts. For instance, a warehouse management system has helped it improve inventory accuracy by 40 per cent and reduce over-stock or out-of-stock situations.

Its earlier investment in its transport management system, which provides real-time tracking, also allowed it to diversify its services to support the healthcare industry during the circuit breaker period, by providing medicine collection and delivery to patients.

IM Holdings founder and chief executive Eddie Siow said its next step includes improving its system for collecting goods before packing them.

The company puts aside about 15 to 20 per cent of its profits for digitalisation and improvement efforts.

Although e-commerce has grown, Mr Siow said "it's still important to have both brick-and-mortar and online capabilities".

The enhanced plan was developed in consultation with companies as well as industry partners such as the Singapore Logistics Association and the Centre of Innovation for supply chain management at Republic Polytechnic.

Other partners and resources, such as business advisers at the SME Centres and SME Digital Tech Hub, will also help the companies build up their digital capabilities.

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