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 their operations. The database provides detailed information such as advantages and disadvantages of the different equipment, video demonstrations and supplier contacts.
ASPRI is also trying to lower companies’ resistance to adoption of new technology through staff training. “We let the workers learn the trade, teach them what is the latest in welding, what’s the latest in formwork, casting concrete, all the different services,” said Mr Quek.
Once they have hands-on experience and have benefitted from them, they can then go back to the companies and persuade their bosses, “You know everyone do like this now, you buy one set and try. That may provide the change,” said Mr Quek.
Admittedly some trades cannot be so easily automated. Among them is scaffolding. “Scaffolding can be very labour intensive, and given the nature of our industry, the scaffold is not so straightforward. Every project for scaffolding has different requirements, different designs, a lot of calculation and stuff like that. Now for such sophisticated work, it’s not so easy to find some robotic or mechanised tools to replace the use of manpower. The technology is not there,” said Mr Chua.
For this, companies would have to look for process improvement to enable them to accomplish their tasks faster without compromising safety.
In the course of 25 years ASPRI has organised several field trips to Korea, Taiwan, Japan, the Middle East, Vietnam, China, US, Canada and the Netherlands, with plans for more as these trips have generated value beyond the obvious
– to network and build up contacts. Being physically present and seeing the facilities at first hand provide a different perspective even in our Internet age where almost everything seems to be available at the click of a mouse.
As FRP’s Mr Loh noted, after seeing certain practices or how people actually do and use technology, you begin to wonder “if we had adopted this idea, could we have saved ourselves a lot of trouble?”
He recalled a trip to the US Gulf, a key centre for the US oil and gas industry, over 10 years ago. “We went to Baton Rouge in 2011, we looked at how they operated. We didn’t look at one or two things, we looked at all the craft in general terms, how they actually managed their contractors, how the contractors communicated with plant owners, etc. We asked them funny things like, ‘How is it that your vehicles are not equipped with spark arrestors?’”
Unlike the US where spark arrestors on vehicles are only required in selected areas like forests where dry leaves can ignite and cause fires, in Singapore vehicles operating on Jurong Island have to be fitted with spark arrestors as plant owners fear pools of combustible liquids may ignite should vehicles run over them. “How often do you see combustible liquid on the road to the extent that it can catch fire?” he asked. “It’s very rare.”
The industry was told it was a global requirement but as the visit to the US plant revealed, it was not. “We tend to do things on an imaginary basis. Over there they are being practical,” Mr Loh added.
Over the next year or two trips will be organised possibly to the Netherlands and the US. “The Netherlands, they are pretty advanced because they have got a lot of oil majors in the
Netherlands, and whatever is happening in Europe will one day spill over to us. So we can go there, link up with local contractors, learn from them, and hopefully, be able to adopt something from them and bring it back here to Singapore to help improve the capabilities of our contractors,” said Mr Chua.
The same for the US. “It’s been quite a number of years since we send a delegation up to the US. And they also came back with a number of learning lessons for us, some of which have been implemented successfully here in Singapore,” he added.
“It’s going to be a lot of learning a lot of interaction. We have to make sure that we find the right people to go there,” Mr Chua noted.
Standing Shoulder to Shoulder with Industry Members During Covid-19
An unprecedented crisis of global proportion, Covid-19 has dealt a heavy blow on the global economy. As the pandemic swept across the world from China’s Wuhan, where the virus first surfaced in December 2019, it roiled lives and livelihood.
Organising Field Trips to Widen Vistas

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