Robots Replace Labor Shortages in Singapore

Businesses in Singapore have begun introducing robotic assistants because of labor shortages, Reuters reports.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower reports that between December 2019 and September 2021, the number of foreign workers fell by 235,700 because of migration restrictions imposed during the pandemic. This has accelerated the "pace of technology adoption and automation in companies," authorities said.

Construction firm Gammon said it has begun using a four-legged robot called Spot to scan soil and gravel areas. After checking the progress of the work, the data is returned to the control room.

According to Michael O'Connell, Gammon's general manager, it only takes one employee to use Spot instead of the two who used to do the job manually.

Replacing the need for onsite labor with autonomous solutions is gaining momentum, he said.

O'Connell believes that the shortage of employees in the industry, exacerbated by the pandemic, isn't going anywhere.

The National Library of Singapore has introduced two robots capable of scanning labels of 100,000 books (about 30% of its collection) per day.

Employees don't have to go through numbers one by one, which reduces the routine and time-consuming aspects of the job said Assistant Library Director Li Yi Fuang.

Robots are also used for customer-related purposes: more than 30 subway stations have units that make coffee for passengers. However, a number of people using the services noted a lack of communication with people.

We always want to have some kind of human contact, said Metro passenger Ashish Kumar.

In January, researchers reported that by 2040, widespread automation in factories would put 12 million Europeans out of work.

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