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Singapore Launches New Initiative to Encourage Adoption of Robotics & Automation

The future of work is going to be different from any current workplace. AI, automation and advanced systems assure improved safety, simplified routine tasks and a higher level of productivity across companies. In addressing this, construction companies, which are struggling from a prolonged workforce shortage, will soon receive up to 80% financing to adopt robotics and automation solutions. The initiative is part of a joint project initiated by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

In the scale pillar of the Construction Industry Transformation Map (ITM), which is supported by the Construction and Facilities Management Industry Digital Plan (IDP), R&A initiatives will be the key facility for industrial transformation in broad-based SME scanning. The digital revolution can also help to build the resilience of BE as well as to improve productivity. The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to speed up R&A solutions to reduce dependency on inadequately low-skilled manpower.

Work-intensive tasks such as painting and drilling can, for instance, be automated and accelerated by adopting such solutions. The risk of falls and injuries caused by the lifting and transportation of heavy equipment at work sites could also be reduced by robotics and automation.

It’s not just about growing a talent pipeline for tomorrow, it is (also) about upskilling our existing workforce.

– Minister of State for Communications and Information

The Minister for National Development unveiled the Integrated Robotics and Automation Solutions Initiative for the Environmental Building Sector in a speech. He urged suppliers to submit their proposals to help companies in the industry with ready-to-use robotics and automation solutions and called upon companies to tape the solutions when available. The qualifying costs for the adoption of such solutions can be funded at up to 80% by SMEs and larger firms.

State Minister for Communications and Information also pointed out, from early research and innovation to deployment, how the BCA has put in place an ecosystem for supporting robotics and automation providers. The Building Innovation Panel, set up in 2011, has also helped to establish test-bedding opportunities, to facilitate the regulatory clearance of innovative solutions, and broaden into further areas, such as robotics and automation in 2019.

An autonomous robot carrier, which will be implemented in the Mount Alvernia Hospital expansion later this year, is one project that has received in-principal approval. The robot will be able to assist in the transportation of heavy construction materials on-site and is expected to increase site productivity by 30% while also improving worksite safety. He added: “Oftentimes, it is not just about innovation at one worksite. But innovation allows us to benefit… a wider group of stakeholders at the precinct level, and sometimes (it is) only at the precinct level that we can get economies of scale at critical mass to try out new solutions.”

More than ten companies have submitted over 30 proposals to test new emerging technologies under the Built Environment Living Laboratory Framework, which was launched last year, and these proposals are currently being evaluated. The Minister of State for Communications and Information has also stated that as more technological tools are adopted in the built environment sector, the nature of jobs will change and that this shift must be supported by a strong pipeline of talent. This is being developed in part through collaboration with institutions of higher learning and industry professionals to attract talent to the industry.

Automation and engineered systems are powerful forces in shaping the future of work. These engineered systems fuel increased innovation, and as computing power grows in the coming years, so will the applications of these technologies. Automated software is progressing beyond simple, repetitive tasks and will soon be capable of performing cognitive tasks.

Every day, new workflows are automated in industries ranging from recruitment to workplace safety. Regardless of industry, these technological advancements all have one goal in mind: to create a safer, more inclusive future.

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