'Queen bee' partner helps S'pore firm's staff learn new skills

A few years ago, customers of local engineering company Flexmech Engineering asked if it was possible to connect their older equipment online so that the health of the machines could be monitored.

Unlike newer equipment, the older metal-cutting machines the firm supplied to customers were not Internet-enabled and did not have a lot of sensors that could help workers get readings on them easily.

In 2019, Flexmech decided to tap the resources of German engineering firm Bosch Rexroth to try and develop a solution.

The result was an online machine monitoring system that helps Flexmech detect early signs of machines breaking down so that they can be repaired before they completely fail.

In the process, its employees were also trained in new digital skills and the company now has a new machine monitoring service business, said Flexmech Engineering director Tan Ru-Ding.

This predictive maintenance system benefited Flexmech's customers, allowing them to extend the lifespan of machine parts by 11 per cent. One of the firm's customers was able to save about $257,000 a year.

The partnership was possible under the SkillsFuture Singapore's (SSG) SkillsFuture Queen Bee initiative, in which industry leaders like Bosch are "queen bees" that help with the training needs of not just their own staff but also those from other firms, particularly those in their industries.

The Flexmech-Bosch Rexroth partnership was one of the success stories shared by SSG at Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (Itap) yesterday.

More than 20 queen bee companies support over 500 enterprises here.

SSG also said that the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning, established to help companies retain talent and build skills through workplace learning to support their business transformation, has helped about 650 companies implement workplace learning programmes and trained 3,700 employees.

Of these, more than 80 companies and 160 employees trained were in the manufacturing sector.

Meanwhile, the South-east Asia Manufacturing Alliance, a network of industrial parks in Singapore and the region that global manufacturers can use as locations, formally added Sembcorp Development and Gallant Venture as partners yesterday at Itap.

This opens new opportunities for companies to use Singapore as a springboard to grow their operations in South-east Asia.

The alliance is a tripartite agreement between the Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore and private sector partners. CapitaLand was the first private sector partner to join the alliance in February.

Kenny Chee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2021, with the headline ''Queen bee' partner helps S'pore firm's staff learn new skills'. Subscribe