Welcoming Industry 4.0 Through Age-Inclusive Practices to Achieve Business Growth

Learn how Michelman prepares for the next industrial revolution by implementing age-inclusive practices to train and upskill older staff.

13 May 2024 Case studies Age management Best practices

Michelman Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd



Michelman Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd

Michelman is a global developer and manufacturer of specialised sustainable chemistry used in agricultural and architectural coatings, digital printing, food service packaging, and advanced composites for automotive and aerospace.



Employment size


Employment profile

Chemical operators, executives, managers, corporate and administrative staff

Business Case 

Michelman believes in cultivating a workplace that is diverse, fair, and inclusive, and sees potential in its employees regardless of factors such as age or gender. But with 36 per cent of its workforce aged 50 and above, it would lose many experienced employees to retirement progressively. At the same time, Industry 4.0 and myriad smart technologies which can transform traditional manufacturing processes are already available.  

While eager to ride the wave of this new revolution, Michelman knew it had to strike a balance between Industry 4.0 and its experienced workforce. Adopting age-inclusive practices would help the company achieve the best of both worlds.

  • Job Redesign
  • Re-employment
  • Intergenerational work teams
  • Innovative Workplace Training Programmes 


To empower mature employees, Michelman adopts the following practices:

Increasing Workplace Inclusivity via Job Redesign

Michelman implemented job design and leveraged new technologies to make the workplace more age-inclusive, providing a more comfortable working environment for its employees.

Its manufacturing plant can run 24/7 only with the help of its chemical operators, who work rotating 12-hour shifts. Noting that this can be strenuous for mature employees, the organisation looked into job redesign to alleviate their workload. 

For example, they redesigned the 12-hour shift work of a 62-year-old employee, Mr Foo, to a fixed five-day work week with regular working hours. He was also provided anti-slip safety boots and back support to minimise work-related aches and fatigue. This proved helpful for him as he then stayed with the company for seven more years.

Michelman also introduced automation across the manufacturing process. By replacing its manual bottling machine with a semi-automated system, it cut the bottling process from five to two steps and doubled productivity. This helped reduce physical labour and also boost workplace morale. 

Filling Knowledge Gaps With Training

Michelman aims to foster a strong learning culture among its employees, especially since Industry 4.0 will automate and digitalise the manufacturing sector. To remain relevant and competitive, it provides employees with equal training opportunities.

Through collaborations with various government agencies, institutions and industries, Michelman actively supports employee development and enhances the employability of mature workers. An example is Singapore Polytechnic’s Company & Workforce Transformation (SP CWT) programme, which helped Michelman co-develop a Career Competency and Training Roadmap for employees to better understand their roles. Furthermore, visits to industry partners with advanced technology and equipment also exposed employees to new automation solutions.

Since 2019, 60 per cent of employees have been enrolled for lessons under the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology’s (SIMTech) LEAN programme, where they learnt to eliminate non-value-added activities and do root-cause analyses. Today, more than 80 per cent of its workforce have completed the programme and are equipped with Lean techniques.  

With such training, employees including mature employees, can keep abreast of the industry’s latest happenings, giving them the confidence to contribute positively in an evolving environment. 

Embracing Change While Addressing Concerns

Naturally, some employees were resistant to change when the organisation embarked on its digital transformation journey. Various initiatives were launched to alleviate their concerns.

For example, multi-generational workgroups of five to 10 employees, known as the lean and safety committee teams, conduct GEMBA and safety inspection walks once a month, having gone through the LEAN programme. These walks provided real-time insights into workplace operations and served as a platform to leverage the strengths of different generations and brainstorm solutions to enhance safety and improve work processes.

Another initiative was the A3 project, which encouraged employees to brainstorm for innovative solutions to improve daily operations. Warehouse assistant Mr Ng, 62, came up with strategies to reduce the storage of heat-treated wooden pallets from 500 pieces to 100 pieces per year.  For his efforts, he was recognised as the first A3 winner.  

Mature employees also had fun experimenting with technology throughTeam Vernie’, an informal group where mature employees could learn basic digital processes such as applying for leave online and sending electronic red packets via digital payment methods.

Being able to complete basic tasks digitally helped dispel employees’ worries about not being able to pick up new technologies easily. 


The implementation of age-inclusive practices has yielded tangible results. In addition to experiencing a year-on-year business growth, Michelman fostered an inclusive culture that attracts, motivates and retains best talents:

  • All of the mature employees who were due to retire chose re-employment with Michelman.
  • Workplace satisfaction in its annual employee engagement survey also rose from 79 per cent in 2020 to 84 per cent in 2023.
  • Some 90 per cent of Michelman’s workforce recommend it as a great place to work at, which ties in with its average retention rate of 90 per cent over the past few years.

We want to nurture a workplace where mutual respect and trust prevail, where talent transcends age boundaries.”  Ms Cerlyn Neo, Regional Human Resources Specialist

We chose to embrace age-inclusive practices to recognise the invaluable contribution of our mature employees as core drivers and key resources. They have extensive experience and knowledge, and they play a very pivotal role in sustaining the organisation’s success,” she adds.