A first for Japanese electronics giant Panasonic, the company has progressed the global headquarters for its cooling compressor business to Singapore. Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say publicized the company's first relocation freestanding of Japan in current decades yesterday at the official opening of Panasonic's refrigeration compressor business unit (RCBU) in Singapore. The engineering plant here, which makes refrigeration compressors, will also be altered from a conventional engineering plant into a "smart factory", which will make use of big data and make procedures more systematized.
Although workers could be worried about being replaced by robots. Even as Panasonic's function has become more manpower, it did not reduce local workers, but instead reoriented them to work alongside robots. Panasonic's reorientation of its local staff has caused a 35 per cent jump in the average income over the last five years. However, Mr. Lim said businesses might still demand precise expertise, which they cannot find in Singapore. In the case of Panasonic, they had to employ foreign workers with skills in innovative element design and process innovation. Mentioning "the complementarity of our local and foreign manpower", Mr. Lim said the foreign experts "helped to train and strengthen our locals to master these skills", improving the local workforce.
At a press conference yesterday, the company's uppermost administration vowed to keep the jobs of its 650-strong Singapore staff, even as it turns its operations in Bedok South into a smart factory. Panasonic Appliances Refrigeration Devices Singapore's manufacturing centre director Leong Mun Chong said that, overall, the allocation of the headquarters to Singapore from Kusatsu city, Shiga Prefecture, will result in an escalation in staff numbers in the RCBU unit. It could double the size of its research and development team to about 120 engineers in five years.
The company's phasing out of labor-intensive jobs will primarily affect its foreign workforce of about 350 workers, mostly from China. Panasonic wants to cut this workforce by 200 workers in the next three to five years, said Mr Leong.
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