According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), the average age of resident cleaners in Singapore is 60.
Because of the advanced age for many of these cleaners, the use of traditional cleaning equipment like brooms and mops can be quite challenging.
One company that understands this challenge is local small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) Klenco Singapore. The company supplies quality equipment and solutions to clients in the cleaning industry.
The 47-year-old company has been in the industry long enough to understand the issues older cleaners face in their day-to-day job. And because of this, the company has been committed to helping to redesign jobs for their clients’ older workers.
“For us, helping to redesign jobs for mature workers through our products is part of the business. Whenever we sell a product, we make sure that it solves an issue. We do not just sell the equipment without being a solution to a challenge.
“First, the product must be the right one to do the job. Second, it must help the operator of the equipment to be more productive, be more effective and help ease the strain of the job for older workers,” said Klenco Associate Director Richard Tan (pictured above).
Klenco also understands that redesigning jobs for mature workers with new equipment and solutions can be costly for many cleaning companies.
That is one of the reasons why Klenco often urges potential clients to tap on the Workforce Singapore’s WorkPro initiative.
The initiative encourages employers to implement progressive employment practices to benefit Singaporeans through job redesign, age management practices and flexible work arrangements.
One component of the WorkPro is the Job Redesign Grant, which provides companies funding support to create physically easier, safer and smarter jobs for older workers.
The company has itself tapped on the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant.
Walking the Talk
The company has an inventory of 26,000 spare parts, and the challenge was to solve the issue of space constraints in its warehouse.
Previously, workers at the company’s warehouse had to manually go through the high shelves, to retrieve spare parts needed by the service department.
“Our workers had to constantly walk up and down the warehouse to retrieve the parts. I think if we kept track, they would have walked a couple of kilometres a day, which can be a strain on our older workers. We needed a solution that reduces the strain on our workers and at the same time, curb unnecessary mistakes such as retrieving the wrong parts,” said Klenco Business Solutions Manager Mohd Nazarudin Ahmad.
Through the WorkPro Grant, the company acquired an automated vertical storage device that helps to retrieve parts when a worker keys in the item’s barcode number. With the automation, productivity has improved by 300 per cent, according to Mr Nazarudin.
Check out the video of one worker using the device:
Moving forward, Klenco hopes that more companies redesign jobs for their mature workers.
“Technology has come a long way. In the early years, cleaners used the broom and brush to clean the floor. And then began the era of the auto scrubber that vacuums and washes at the same time, and now there are also robot cleaners. We will continue to look at technology advancement.
“We’ll continue to advocate for job redesign for mature workers. For people who are above the age of 50, although they might have certain pain and weaknesses in their body, it does not mean they cannot work. Technology can certainly let these workers overcome the challenges they might face,” said Mr Tan.