From driver to quality assessor in plant

After undergoing eye surgery, Hai Sia Seafood employee Tan Teng Kwang, 64, was redeployed to the firm's processing plant, where he handles tasks such as quality assessment.
After undergoing eye surgery, Hai Sia Seafood employee Tan Teng Kwang, 64, was redeployed to the firm's processing plant, where he handles tasks such as quality assessment.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Mr Tan Teng Kwang was working as a driver for wholesale distributor Hai Sia Seafood when he underwent eye surgery, which made it inadvisable for him to be in the sun.

Upon learning of his health condition, his employer redeployed him to the company's processing plant, where the 64-year-old has been based since December last year.

Hai Sia Seafood's deputy director Ang Junting said: "We have been embarking on automation projects, which means workers do not have to be as skilled and face lower risks there now."

Plant work previously involved sharpening knives, manually slicing fish and standing for eight to 10 hours a day, said Mr Ang.

Now, new machinery does most of the physical work while staff like Mr Tan handle tasks such as quality assessment.

The automation, which started in 2016, has boosted productivity while helping Hai Sia redesign jobs for its ageing workforce.

About 15 per cent of its 70 staff are aged above 60, said Mr Ang.

 
 
 

The machines allow staff including Mr Tan to work in the day as well. "Before, if I were to start production in the day, I would need some technical skill set, such as how to fillet a fish. Now, the day shift is possible without such technical skills," said Mr Ang.

He remains keen on hiring older staff, as long as they are open to learning how to use the machines.

It took Mr Tan two to three months to get used to them, and he hopes to remain with Hai Sia, where he has worked for more than 30 years. "As long as I have a job, I will continue with it until I am no longer able to," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'From driver to quality assessor in plant'. Print Edition | Subscribe