Asia

Pest management sector can tap grant under refreshed digital plan for environmental services

SINGAPORE – Small and medium-sized enterprises in the pest management sector will be able to tap a grant to incorporate digital solutions into their services as part of a refreshed Environmental Services Industry Digital Plan.

The Productivity Solutions Grant for the environmental services industry allows companies to adopt pre-approved digital solutions that are recommended in the plan.

The plan, launched in 2018, is a blueprint for SMEs in environmental services to simplify their digitalisation process to transform the industry to a more productive one, starting with those in the cleaning and management sectors.

Speaking to reporters during a media visit to the Industrial and Commercial Facilities Management (ICFM) company in Raeburn Park on Thursday (April 22), Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, said: “The Covid-19 situation has underscored the critical role of the environmental services industry in safeguarding public health, and provided an impetus for companies to improve their operations to become more efficient and productive as they experience an increase in demand for their services while facing manpower constraints.”

She noted that the average age of those working in the environmental services industry is quite high, with those in cleaning being around 60, and those in waste management averaging around 49.

As such, the refreshed plan encourages SMEs in all three sub-sectors to incorporate newer and more advanced technologies into their service delivery.

This includes the use of blockchain technology for waste management, and a centralised platform with data analytics that companies can integrate into their workflow, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in a joint statement on Thursday.

Using blockchain for waste management can help companies to transfer and transport their waste and recyclables, and ensure that these are responsibly disposed.

It noted that the commercial applications for these technologies are now more mature and readily available, some of which are relevant for SMEs at an earlier stage of their growth.

For instance, ICFM developed an in-house workforce management system, iClean, to help supervisors manage their workers at multiple work sites and to inform workers of their daily schedule, which is an example of how a centralised platform using data analytics can be used.

This is complemented with a smart toilet system which notifies workers when supplies are low, so that they can reprioritise their duties to other areas, like disinfecting high touch points. This has resulted in time savings of around one to four hours each day.

As at January this year, there are 46 pre-approved solutions and equipment supportable by the productivity solutions grant, with more to be progressively added.

Using the grant, eligible companies can be supported with up to 80 per cent of the qualifying cost, capped at $350,000, until Sept 30 this year.

As at April 4, 1,515 applications have been approved for 518 companies, and about $36 million of the grant has been committed.

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To ensure that the workforce is equipped with the knowledge to adopt these digital solutions, the plan also includes a digital road map on training, which includes course suggestions for them.

For instance, the Institute of Technical Education offers one such introductory course incorporating robotics and automation, as well as software and management systems.

This prepares multi-skilled professionals so that they can move across various sub-sectors more easily, and enable businesses to synergise cleaning, waste management and pest management services to reap greater efficiency and productivity.

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