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Singapore invests in improving logistics

Singapore government has once more identified a problem and is taking control of the situation by spending time and effort to drive a solution.   

Last night, Mr Tharman, who is Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies said: "Every day in Singapore ... there are an estimated 4,000 trucks performing more than 20,000 delivery trips and taking up an estimated 25 per cent of road space."       

A total of S$20 million will be set aside for a pilot of integrated delivery systems for malls - a move that could transform domestic logistics, announced Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

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  "What is often happening is that many different trucks are delivering small amounts of cargo, small amounts of goods to the same location. It not only means more manpower than necessary, it also means bottlenecks along the roads outside the malls," he explained.

Mr Tharman cited the example of Japan, where logistics companies consolidate and coordinate the delivery and reception of packages from warehouses to malls to ensure they do not have multiple trucks sent to the same location.

He said the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and SPRING Singapore have studied this and they estimate it could reduce the number of trucks on the road by 25 per cent and cut waiting and queueing time for deliveries by 65 per cent. It could also trim delivery manpower needed by 40 per cent.

In addition, S$15 million has been set aside by the Government for another pilot for the use of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) in warehousing. This will reduce repetitive work in storage and retrieval, Mr Tharman said.

"We have to develop new strengths to differentiate ourselves from other logistics hubs, and take bold steps to cope with reality of a tight labour market. But most fundamentally, technology is transforming supply chains," said Mr Tharman.

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"Advances in sensors, and robotics, and cloud computing and big data, will allow logistics companies to overcome many of our current constraints and grow. If we play this well, technology can be a tremendous enabler for us, in logistics and across the whole economy."

Another example of such a roll out took place earlier this year.  Since early May, six blocks in Yuhua have been using the pneumatic waste conveyance system, which uses vacuum-type underground pipes to automatically gather household garbage, doing away with the usual manual method of collection.

A total of 38 blocks in the estate, or about 3,200 households, will have it by the third quarter of this year, as part of the Housing Board's Greenprint programme. Under this automated method, rubbish thrown into household chutes will end up in bins at the bottom of blocks. When the bins are full, sensors will instruct valves to open and drop trash into underground pipes. Garbage is then transported by air suction to a centralised bin centre in the precinct under a minute, at a speed of 50 to 80 kmph.

Outdoor disposal inlets where the public can throw recyclable waste will also be linked to the system. As waste collectors only need to retrieve garbage from one point and less frequently, this system is estimated to reduce manpower needs by about 70 per cent, said HDB's Deputy Director of Technology Research, Tan Chek Sim.

Sources - NEA, PMO, Channel News Asia, HDB, STA

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