E-commerce made easy for food manufacturers, a unified command and control centre for hotels and other premises, and facial recognition for manpower management in the construction industry – these are some of the innovative ways in which technology can help relieve business and operational pain points for SMEs in Singapore.
The solutions were showcased at the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore’s booth at the annual SME Conference, 18th Infocomm Commerce Conference and SME Expo organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), and co-organised by Lianhe Zaobao and IDA.
Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Lim Hng Kiang gave the opening address at the event, and also visited the exhibition booths featuring Singapore tech companies.
We feature some of the exciting technologies below.
Providing food manufacturers with a direct-one-stop gateway to China
veriTAG’s veriHUB is a one-stop solution to help food manufacturers enter directly into the China market, offering a range of services from supplier and product registration to shipment consolidation, custom clearance and links to the country’s major e-commerce hubs.
The China market presents a huge opportunity for Singapore food manufacturers, said Mr Jason Lim, Chief Executive Officer of veriTAG, citing the country’s 1.3 billion population and an imported food market worth an estimated US$120 billion.
However, it can be a complicated place for doing business, he said. For example, SMEs will need to register a company there, and they need to be aware of the rules and procedures involved in food exports into the country, and also have a minimum quantity to cover the shipment cost.
Partnering with the ChaShan Eco-Food Hub, veriHUB offers the “factory-to-consumer” model for food manufacturers, enabling them to ship to one main importer and tap on the major e-commerce networks of TaoBao, TianMao, JingDong and YaMaXun (Amazon).
Providing intelligent shelving for fully-automated self service
ShelfX Singapore aims to address the manpower crunch faced by the F&B sector by proposing “100 per cent automation” using the ShelfX intelligent shelving system which can be unlocked by a credit card or a pre-registered mobile phone. The cost of items taken from the shelves is automatically computed when the user closes the cabinet.
Ms Serene Loong, founder of ShelfX, said the system can cater easily to combination deals, where discounts are given when more than one unit of an item is purchased, or timed special offers.
The solution also comes with an inventory management component which sends out notifications when stocks need to be replenished.
Transforming e-menus from an operational tool to a marketing tool
The Diamond mobile ordering and loyalty app from Aptsys seeks to address not just the manpower crunch, but also the sales and marketing aspects of the F&B business.
Previously, F&B operators would use the company’s software running on iPads to place their orders, which were automatically sent to the kitchen. An Internet-enabled e-menu was also bundled with Aptsys point of sales systems.
In developing a mobile app, Aptsys took a big step forward to incorporate additional features such as customer membership with loyalty points and a stored value system, so that diners can also enjoy discounts and promotional rates, said business development manager Mr Kevin Ng.
This was not only a more cost-effective model, as it did with the need for companies to invest in devices such as iPads, but also elevated the e-menu from an operational tool to a marketing tool. “F&B is a very competitive industry as diners have a lot of choice,” said Mr Ng.
“What the app helps to do is create a pull factor for customers to return.”
Managing manpower with facial recognition technology
Managing manpower at a construction site can be a time-consuming task with daily checks required to ascertain the identities of the workers on site, ensure that only those with valid work permits are allowed to enter, and determine how many man-hours they clock each day. For bigger projects, a monthly productivity report also has to be submitted to help authorities fine-tune manpower policies for the sector.
Intercorp’s attendance management system offers a much easier way to carry out these tasks – it makes use of facial recognition technology to authenticate personnel. The system is completely contactless, provides fast authentication in less than a second, and is highly accurate with the use of a dual-sensor facial recognition algorithm.
According to Mr Daniel Talluri, Sales Manager of Intercorp, it takes just less than five minutes to register a worker, create a profile and enroll him in the system. After that, daily attendance can be captured and the monthly report generated automatically, detailing how many people are employed at a site, what kind of skill sets they have and how many hours they spend on site.
When workers’ permits expire, the system is updated so contractors can ensure that only authorised workers enter the site. They can also determine the actual number of workers supplied by their subcontractors instead of relying on the latter’s reports, said Mr Daniel Talluri.
Driving productivity with drones
Technology is also making a difference in areas such as land surveying. As Mr Zhang Weiliang, systems engineer with Avetics explained, before buildings can be constructed, the land has to be surveyed for ground level calibration, to determine its dimensions, and compute the volume of sand that will have to be moved. Surveying a piece of land the size of about six football fields would typically take a few days. Avetics can do it in an hour, with the help of drones.
Assembled in Singapore for use in urban environments, Avetics’ drones capture 3D image models, top-down ortho-photos and other high resolution images from which land surveyors can extract the data they need.
This requires land survey workers to move up the skills value chain to do data extraction and analysis, said Mr Zhang.
Providing a unified 3D model for managing services, facilities and security
As for managing the built environment, that is where G Element comes in. The company’s 3D Unified Management System provides a command centre platform that can be integrated with building management systems, IOT gateways and other sensors and management systems, and allows standard operating processes and work flows to be integrated to improve the productivity of the business.
In a hotel, for example, instead of having security guards physically patrolling the premises, with an integrated video management system integrated into the 3D view, guard tours can be conducted virtually. When a guest checks out, the system can notify concierge services and also send an automatic alert to the chambermaid to clean the room.
“Most building management systems will link up sensors for temperature, humidity, CO2; not many are integrated with facilities, services or security management,” said Mr Lawrence Yeung Pak Kwun, Business Development Manager, South Asia Business Group, G Element. “We also integrate with 3D BIM data, which is in line with the Building and Construction Authority’s push for BIM (Building Information Model) adoption.”
By fusing real-time sensors and 3D building information, the solution provides a unified 3D model for quick situation insight and informed decision making, and helps avoid errors in communicating locations.
IDA is seeking participation from IT companies interested in revolutionising industries. For more information, please visit the IDA SME page on the IDA website.