Sunday 25 October 2015

Plans to boost efficiency of logistics sector

Moves will inject technology and help firms cope with land, labour constraints: Tharman
By Chia Yan Min, The Straits Times, 23 Oct 2015

A slate of measures to boost Singapore's logistics industry were unveiled yesterday, including a pilot programme to make deliveries to shopping malls more efficient.

These moves will inject a much-needed dose of technology into the domestic logistics sector and help firms cope more effectively with land and labour constraints, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

He was speaking at a gala dinner to celebrate the 60th anniversary of logistics firm YCH.

The company was founded in 1955 as a passenger transport company called Yap Chwee Hock Transport and General Contractors, and has since grown into a major regional logistics player with facilities and warehouses in more than 100 locations across the Asia-Pacific region.

The minister announced a range of government-supported initiatives to boost Singapore's logistics sector at last night's event.

The first is a $20 million pilot project to use technology to consolidate and coordinate deliveries to shopping malls.

Singapore boasts an estimated 4,000 trucks, running more than 20,000 delivery trips daily and taking up about 25 per cent of road space. Different trucks often deliver small cargo consignments to the same place, creating bottlenecks on roads outside malls. This causes difficulties for other road users, said Mr Tharman.

The project aims to cut the number of delivery trucks on the road by a quarter, and also reduce manpower required for deliveries by about 40 per cent. Waiting time for deliveries will also be slashed by two-thirds, he added.

The project will be piloted in two to three malls over the next year, and is expected to result in significant savings if scaled up to cover all of Singapore's 200-plus malls.

"We will transform today's inefficient domestic logistics sector - the system from the warehouse to the 'last mile' of delivery - through integrated, shared delivery systems," said Mr Tharman.

A second $15 million project, led by the Singapore Logistics Association, involves piloting automated vehicles in warehouses, to reduce repetitive storage and retrieval work.

The third initiative, being developed by the Singapore Transport Association, is an industry chassis pool, to help local truckers better manage resources and rising costs.

The chassis pool will encourage companies to size their chassis fleets according to their typical utilisation needs, and tap the chassis pool in times of peak demand, said Mr Tharman. The first chassis pool will be launched within the next two years, with an eventual goal of having multiple pools to serve truckers across the island.

In addition to these projects, the Government is also working with the industry to develop the next generation of logistics talent, said Mr Tharman.

The sector now faces a high attrition rate and has a large proportion of low-skilled jobs. As technologies such as robotics and autonomous vehicles become increasingly widespread, however, logistics jobs will demand more specialised skills, the minister noted.

Singapore's air and sea port infrastructure will also get a boost with the expansion of Changi Airport, the development of Tuas port, as well as the growth of associated industries like aerospace.

Besides hard infrastructure, software systems which support logistics are also being enhanced, said Mr Tharman.

Mr Robert Yap, the chairman of YCH, said the company's new corporate headquarters in Jurong West, due to be completed next year, will incorporate research and training facilities, and supply chain management technologies such as drones and robotic arms.

The company has also pledged to train 600 people for the logistics sector over the next three years at its supply chain academy located within the new headquarters.

Consolidated delivery system can ease bottlenecks on Orchard Road: Industry players
There can be up to 30 delivery trucks coming to the four major malls during the peak period between 8am and 11am, which can create a build-up of traffic along the roads, industry players say.
By Nicole Tan, Channel NewsAsia, 24 Oct 2015

A consolidated delivery system can help remove bottlenecks in truck deliveries to Singapore malls logistics players said, a day after the announcement of an upcoming pilot by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

According to industry watchers, there can be up to 30 delivery trucks coming during the peak period between 8am and 11am for major malls along Orchard Road. And this can create a build-up of traffic along the roads outside the mall. Turnaround time for truck drivers can be up to 2 hours.

This is why an integrated delivery system could help keep the retail machinery at Orchard Road better oiled. Under the plan, rather than having multiple vehicles delivering small quantities, cargo for each mall will be consolidated into one truck and this is estimated to reduce waiting time by almost two-thirds. Observers said support from the Government can help businesses overcome the high initial costs of bringing retailers onto the same platform.

"Each and everyone has their own arrangement. So to consolidate all these requirements together, it requires higher cost to overcome some of these changes, so the Government funding will inevitably help to kickstart this process of rethinking and redesigning,” said Mr Steven Goh, executive director of the Orchard Road Business Association. “This'll definitely help a precinct like Orchard Road to reduce congestion, at the same time reduce the carbon footprint, and improve productivity of the logistics industry."

Logistics players Channel NewsAsia spoke with said productivity initiatives and automation are important in ensuring a more efficient use of resources in land-scarce Singapore.

Supply chain company YCH Group said it is using latest technology in its new headquarters and it hopes to train talent to handle higher-skilled activities.

"Other productivity and automation initiatives - that's very important to take the industry to the next level,” said Dr Robert Yap, executive chairman of YCH Group. “Singapore is a very land-scarce country. So in order for us to do things right, we need to make sure we're most efficient in the way we use our land.

“In YCH, we're building the Supply Chain City, which will showcase Fusionaris - a fusion of an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) integrated with ramp-up warehousing - where we optimize the use of land by combining or fusing the automated storage retrieval system that we designed together with the ramp up warehouse. And also with the latest technology and automation, we're using that workplace itself to train, to ensure we get our students and talent to be future-ready."

Dr Yap made this point on the sidelines of the YCH Group's 60th Anniversary celebration dinner on Thursday.

Going forward, YCH said it plans to train 600 graduates and mid-career professionals over the next three years. It hopes to take in 20 per cent of those it trains.

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