SINGAPORE — Robotics are an enabler for industry transformation, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said here on Thursday.
He made the remarks at the third edition of the Singapore International Robo Expo (SIRE), where 33 companies have showcased their latest innovations on robotics.
“We must all see robotics as an enabler for industry transformation,” Koh said, adding that such technological advancements will help to future-proof the competitiveness of our companies, and address our imperatives as an aging population.
According to a report by the United Nations, the number of people over the age of 60 will make up 30 percent of the population in Singapore in 2025, rising up to 35 percent by 2050.
“Now, while I think that it is quite natural for workers to be afraid of how robots will replace their work, the reality is the aging population and perhaps the declining physical ability, this is where robotics can actually be an enhancement and augmentation in complementary with our workforce,” said Koh.
One way to do so is to upgrade workers by providing access to learning, the minister pointed out, citing the example of Feinmetall working with local National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) in an initiative known as the Employment and Employability Institute to provide “customized bite-sized” learning modules to the workers.
Feinmetall is a Singaporean precision engineering firm specializing in design and manufacturing of wafer probe cards for semiconductor wafer tests.
Workers don’t have to take the time off work, they can do it during their tea break, on a bus ride home, he suggested, adding that such initiatives promote a culture of life-long learning.
“Ultimately, robotics are tools – a means to an end, and it is the worker who has to make the robots work,” the minister added.
During the show, the local company Lionsbot launched a family of fully autonomous robots that perform specialized cleaning functions, the first of its kind to be developed in the city state for mass exports globally.
The two-day event was officiated by Koh Poh Koon at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre, together with the President of SIAA Terence Teo, and Managing Director of Experia Events Leck Chet Lam.