Singapore banks on advanced manufacturing to propel its economy

The republic will help manufacturers move into advanced manufacturing through A*STAR's two new Model Factories, which will be operational by the end of this year

By Nurdianah Md Nur
March 8, 2017

Credit: GraphicStock

Advanced manufacturing will be key for Singapore's future economic growth.

"Manufacturing continues to remain a key pillar of our economy. The sector currently accounts for around 20 percent of our GDP and 14 percent of total employment," Dr Koh Poh Koon, Singapore's Minister of State for Trade and Industry, shared at the Committee of Supply debate.

 "Based on the Ministry of Trade and Industry's (MTI) estimates, a S$1 billion increase in manufacturing value added through final demand will generate about S$330 million of value added, and 2,500 jobs for the rest of the economy, including business services and wholesale trade. Having a manufacturing base also helps us capture opportunities and generate innovation which would otherwise take place overseas," he added.

To ensure that Singapore's manufacturing sector stays relevant and competitive, manufacturers need look into advanced manufacturing, in which the entire manufacturing operations and end-to-end workflow processes are digitalised and automated.

The republic will thus establish two Model Factories under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), which is set to be operational by the end of this year.

Located at the Singapore Institute for Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), the Model Factory@SIMTech is a "live pilot-scale production line that allows companies to gain hands-on experience of advanced manufacturing technologies, prior to full adoption", said Dr Koh.

 He added that companies can use SIMTech's Manufacturing Control Tower Platform (MCT) to gain greater visibility and better manage their manufacturing operations through a central control platform that is accessible via a mobile app.

One local company that is currently experimenting with SIMTEch's MCT platform is precision engineering company CKE Manufacturing. By using MCT, CKE's employees are able to track the performance of its shop-floor machines in real-time without having to physically inspect them.  Since the pilot has so far enabled CKE to improve its manpower deployment by about 50 percent and optimised the utilisation of its machines, the company plans to connect all its machines to the MCT platform, Dr Koh shared.

The second facility, Model Factory@ARTC, will be hosted at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC). There, companies will be able to "test-bed the integration of smart, digital and advanced technologies with their existing manufacturing processes for better productivity and resource utilisation", Dr Koh explained.

"Advanced manufacturing will enable companies, both large and small, to raise their productivity, as well as develop adjacent products, services and business models.  In turn, this will strengthen Singapore's leadership in key industrial clusters such as aerospace and semiconductors," he said.