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Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Digital and Advanced Manufacturing Seminar 2019

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Digital and Advanced Manufacturing Seminar 2019

Chief Executive Officer of Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Ms Low Khah Gek, 

President of Singapore Industrial Automation Association (SIAA), Mr Terence Teo, 

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

Distinguished Guests, 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

1. It is a pleasure for me to join you this afternoon at the Digital and Advanced Manufacturing Seminar. 

Manufacturing remains an important economic driver

2. Manufacturing has a significant economic footprint in Singapore. It contributes more than 20% of our GDP today and employs approximately 13% of our workforce.
 
3. While uncertainties in the global economy remain, technological advancement has created new opportunities for the manufacturing sector. The convergence of smart and sophisticated technologies such as automation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence has produced seismic changes to the manufacturing landscape.
 
4. Many of you have already felt and witnessed firsthand the impact brought about by Industry 4.0. This is however only the dawn of a new era – an era that offers abundant opportunities for our companies and workers.
 
5. Many companies are already capitalising on these technologies to develop intelligent and hyper-connected shop floors. Real-time data is now collected and processed across machines to enable faster, more nimble and efficient production. To ensure that Singapore remains a key player in the manufacturing sector, companies and workers must keep abreast of these developments and adopt these technologies where relevant to stay in the game against our competitors. 

Importance of a collective and collaborative effort

6. Given the complex and dynamic nature of the manufacturing landscape, everyone has a part to play to ensure that we continue to be competitive and capture the opportunities. It is also important that stakeholders in the manufacturing ecosystem bind together and partner with each other to support companies in their transformation.
 
7. I am therefore glad to learn that ITE, SIAA and SPETA have collaborated to put together the Digital and Advanced Manufacturing Programme for Industry 4.0 – an initiative to help companies innovate and transform. It is noteworthy that under this initiative, ITE, together with commercial System Integrators (SIs) will pool together technical solutions to help address the common yet critical technological adoption challenges that companies face. Companies can share their business problems and collaborate with ITE and the SIs, to find the technological solutions to address their needs. Through this initiative, companies can optimise their production facilities and transform their businesses processes in a shorter span of time.
 
8. Here, I would like to recognise the key roles that Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) play in promoting technological adoption and advocating enterprise transformation. TACs understand the financial and operational constraints that their members face and are uniquely placed to advise companies in their transformation journey. It is therefore heartening to see SIAA and SPETA proactively contributing to the local Advanced Manufacturing ecosystem.
 
9. I am also pleased to learn that ITE has set up three Industry 4.0 spaces, or what ITE termed as “Living Laboratories” to showcase various improved front-end and back-end production technologies. This will allow companies to access and experiment digital production technologies, and explore the use of these advanced manufacturing solutions. Through the showcase, local companies can then adopt the relevant technologies to digitalise their shop floors.
 
10. By partnering industry stakeholders such as SPETA and SIAA, ITE will be able to broaden its reach and form more partnerships with aspiring local companies, raising our overall competencies and capabilities. This is a good example of an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL)-TAC collaboration, and I hope that more IHLs and TACs will espouse this spirit of mutual cooperation.

Workforce Retraining is Key to Business Transformation

11. Successful enterprise transformation however is not just about buying new technologies. Instead, people will remain at the core of companies’ transformation. Workers must be able to use and willing to embrace the technology appropriately and effectively to create the multiplier effect – that “X” factor. In this regard, these Living Laboratories offer not just an avenue for companies to explore the technologies, but also provide a realistic shop floor environment for workers to train in. 
  
12. In addition, I am pleased to learn that ITE, SIAA and SPETA, with the support of SSG, have worked together to curate industry relevant modules to facilitate skills upgrading and enhance the career progression for technicians towards Industry 4.0. These modules, which are bite-sized and recommended by employers, allow workers to continually sharpen their skills to support businesses in their transformation journey. These courses will also be made available through the NTUC U-Leap Enterprise initiative.
 
Conclusion

13. I am highly encouraged by the spirit of collaboration that we are celebrating here today. I am confident that these initiatives will help contribute to a thriving Advanced Manufacturing ecosystem in Singapore.
 
14. As I mentioned in the opening of my speech, we are only at the dawn of a new era. Let us continue to work together to capture the immense opportunities and possibilities ahead of us. I wish everyone an engaging and fruitful session.

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