Moving from manual labour to remote control tech

ST Logistics' senior logistics assistant Rizal Johari can now handle pick-and-pack operations with the aid of a remote-controlled system, after he started to learn new inventory management systems. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Mr Rizal Johari, 28, is used to his work as a logistics assistant - a labour-intensive job that mostly involved the picking and packing of goods. However, the introduction of technology made his role obsolete last November, as processes became automated.

That was when his employer ST Logistics got him to start learning new inventory management systems.

Mr Rizal can now handle pick-and-pack operations with the aid of a remote-controlled system that can place and retrieve goods from storage racks. "It's quite interesting moving (to this role) from a manual labour job," he said.

This month, he will begin training that will enable him to take on a new role at ST Logistics.

The company has adopted Workforce Singapore's (WSG) Redeployment Programme for Supply Chain and Logistics Coordinators, which involves three months of classroom and on-the-job training.

The programme, which was officially launched on Tuesday, was jointly developed by WSG, the Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore and the Supply Chain and Logistics Academy.

Under the programme, WSG will provide participating companies with salary support to aid the reskilling and redeployment of their rank-and-file employees affected by the company's business transformation efforts to take on new or enhanced roles within their company.

Providing training support to workers when "business is not exactly booming" is difficult for companies to think about, but in fact is "the smarter thing to do", said Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo on Tuesday, during a visit to ST Logistics' facility in Tuas.

On Tuesday, WSG also launched a similar programme called the Redeployment Professional Conversion Programme for Supply Chain and Logistics Professionals, targeted at professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

ST Logistics, together with its parent company Toll Group, has committed to tap both schemes to reskill 100 workers.

With the two new programmes, and current related ones targeted at mid-career hires, WSG expects about 600 workers and PMETs in the logistics and supply chain industry to benefit.

Shivraj Rajendran

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2020, with the headline Moving from manual labour to remote control tech. Subscribe