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Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Opening of SMT Technology Pte Ltd's Smart Manufacturing Demo Factory

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Opening of SMT Technology Pte Ltd's Smart Manufacturing Demo Factory

SPEECH BY DR KOH POH KOON, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY AT THE OPENING OF SMT TECHNOLOGY PTE LTD’S SMART MANUFACTURING DEMO FACTORY ON 15 NOVEMBER 2018, 9.15AM, AT JTC SPACE @ TAMPINES NORTH

Mr Low Ming Wah, Chairman of Singapore Precision Engineering & Technology Association (SPETA),

Mr. Gerry Ong, Managing Director of SMT Technology,  

Distinguished guests, 

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. A very good morning. I am pleased to join you today at the official opening for SMT Technology’s Smart Manufacturing Demo Factory. I would like to congratulate the company and its partners on this momentous occasion. 

2. This Demo Factory where we are at today, is driven by a Singaporean entrepreneur’s initiative to bring successful commercialisation of Industry 4.0 solutions to Singapore, to benefit our business community and contribute to our economic transformation. I would like to commend Mr Gerry Ong for his efforts in driving manufacturing innovation over the last two decades. I am encouraged by his dedication to transferring knowledge, business experience and networks from successful overseas ventures for the benefit of our local industry. 

Advanced Manufacturing – A Key Driver of Singapore’s Future Economic Growth

3. Manufacturing remains an important pillar of Singapore’s economy, contributing about 20% of Singapore’s GDP and close to 14% of total employment in 2017. It creates good jobs for our people, contributes to productivity growth and generates positive spillovers for the rest of the economy. Collectively, our manufacturing sectors provide Singapore with the base of skills and capabilities to support our push into high-value activities. 

4. Rapid technological advances and digitalisation are changing the face of manufacturing today. In particular, developments in advanced manufacturing, such as the increased use of sensors, enhanced connectivity across equipment, and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), necessitate a change in the way our companies compete and grow. Industry 4.0 thus presents huge growth opportunities for companies that are swift in seizing them. 

Role of Industry Players like SMT Technology to Complement Government Efforts

5. Many SMEs understand the need to adopt Industry 4.0 to remain competitive but are unsure how to go about doing so. Hence, EDB launched the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index (SSIRI) in November 2017 to provide a “diagnostic tool” to help companies assess the readiness of their facilities and operations for smart manufacturing and develop a comprehensive transformation roadmap for them. SMT Technology’s initiative to set up a Smart Manufacturing Demo Factory, with the support of Enterprise Singapore and JTC Corporation, will allow local manufacturers to access digital production capabilities and explore the use of advanced manufacturing solutions. Through the showcase, local companies can then identify and adopt suitable solutions to digitalise and optimise their manufacturing value chains, thereby increasing productivity.  By partnering important industry multipliers such as SPETA, the Demo Factory can also help uplift the capabilities of our SMEs in the Precision Engineering (PE) industry.

6. This is in line with the two key thrusts of the PE Industry Transformation Map (ITM) that was launched in October 2016, namely the Model Digital Factories and Digital Champions. As part of the PE ITM, the Government has worked with partners to launch model factories that enable companies to experience and experiment with advanced manufacturing technologies in a real-life production environment, prior to implementing them in their own premises. Two such factories have already been launched by A*STAR – the Model Factory @ SIMTech in October 2017, and the Model Factory @ ARTC in August 2018. The second thrust entails engaging and supporting PE companies to be lead adopters of digital manufacturing, or “Digital Champions”, so as to demonstrate to the broader PE industry the concrete benefits of digital manufacturing, and encourage more companies to come on board. 

7. I understand that SMT Technology is currently helping local PE SME Fong’s Engineering & Manufacturing, which designs and manufactures high-end medical devices, to convert its existing factory space into a fully-unmanned Smart Factory. When completed, this will enable Fong’s to boost its production capacity by up to 3 times, and provide new capabilities for the company to manufacture more sophisticated products, thereby opening up new business opportunities.

8. SMT Technology’s efforts complement existing Government initiatives to support more companies in seizing new Industry 4.0 opportunities. We have committed $3.2 billion under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 (RIE2020) plan to develop research and technological capabilities in the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) Domain from 2016 to 2020.This includes A*STAR’s Future of Manufacturing (FoM) initiative to support the digital transformation of the manufacturing sector.  

9. To facilitate greater access to opportunities in the region for our businesses, the Government is building on the partnerships with our ASEAN counterparts. For example, last month Enterprise Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Agency for Research and Development of Industry (ARDI), under the Indonesian Ministry of Industry, to cooperate on the development and implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions in Indonesia. The scope of this MOU includes helping Singapore technology providers partner Indonesian manufacturers in manufacturing innovation and training programmes, and having platforms that facilitate access to technology and expertise.

Capturing Opportunities for Our People

10. Even as we support the pursuit of growth opportunities for our companies, the Government recognises that advances in manufacturing are not about removing people from the equation of value creation. Last month at the inaugural Asian edition of the HANNOVER MESSE event in Singapore, ITAP (or Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific), I shared that successful “Industry 4.0” in Singapore is only possible with “Worker 4.0”. I firmly believe that a key area of focus is to equip our workforce with the technological skills to transit to Industry 4.0.
 
11. The Government and unions are committed to supporting our workers in upskilling and working with industry for our people stay competitive. To support our workforce in capturing opportunities from Industry 4.0, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has developed an Advanced Manufacturing Continuing Education and Training (CET) Strategy. This includes providing insights for employers and workers on career development pathways and partnerships with learning institutes to ensure workers have access to upskilling opportunities in emerging areas for digital manufacturing. 

12. The labour movement is also actively involved in these efforts to increase our workforce’s competitiveness. The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has set up a Training Executive Committee (EXCO), which I chair, to coordinate the implementation of training initiatives for workers across the 6 clusters and 23 industries covered by our ITMs. This includes leveraging the SSIRI as a tool, to work with businesses in improving their capabilities and increasing quality job opportunities for their workers. 

Conclusion

13. We have in place an assessment tool (the SSIRI), a process (Operation and Technology Roadmapping, or OTR), model factories for experiential learning, digital manufacturing solution providers such as SMT Technology to help SMEs transform, proactive TACs like SPETA to catalyse mindset change in the companies, and a strong partnership with the labour movement in CET/Skills framework to reskill and upskill workers. I am confident that with the collective effort of the Government, workers and businesses, we can ride the waves of change from Industry 4.0 and Singapore’s economic transformation, to reap benefits for our companies and workers. 

14. Once again, I would like to congratulate SMT Technology on the launch of its Smart Manufacturing Demo Factory. I wish SMT Technology and its partners the very best in their journey to advance manufacturing innovation, creating greater value for all in the industry.

15. Thank you.

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