Mr Charles Quek, President of ASPRI,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to join you this afternoon at the launch of the Process Construction and Maintenance (PCM) Industry Digital Plan (IDP).
Significance of PCM sector
2. The PCM sector plays a critical role in supporting Singapore’s key industrial sectors like Energy and Chemicals, Semiconductors and Pharmaceuticals, by providing reliable and efficient process construction, maintenance and turnaround services to these plants. As these process plants use specialised equipment and machinery in their production processes, they require a highly skilled and competitive PCM ecosystem to maintain the safety and operations of these production units. Today, our PCM sector comprises more than 500 companies, many of which are SMEs providing very good jobs for people in Singapore.
3. I understand the COVID-19 pandemic has brought disruptions on many fronts to our companies, from delays in project schedules, restrictions to people movements because of border controls, and to companies having to make difficult but necessary worksite adjustments to protect their workers’ health and safety.
4. Despite such extraordinary circumstances, the PCM industry has banded and rallied together to collectively find ways to overcome the challenges and emerge stronger. For example, coming out of the Circuit Breaker last year, the Association of Process Industry (ASPRI), together with the Singapore Chemicals Industry Council (SCIC), brought together key plant owners and PCM companies to establish a Cohorting Workgroup to align industry practices.
5. These included ways for safe cohorting at work and at rest, during commutes, as well as how to contain and minimise work disruptions in the event of infections. It is this spirit of camaraderie and resilience that has enabled the PCM industry to recover and rebound faster.
6. On behalf of MTI, ESG, EDB, JTC, and IMDA, we want to thank each of you here for doing your part and extending strong support to each other while battling the pandemic. Let us continue to maintain our vigilance and stand united in this fight. The Government, together with the trade association, ASPRI, will continue to support the sector to recover, transform and capture new opportunities.
Sharpen Competitive Edge to Capture Opportunities through Digitalisation
7. Digital transformation is the key - not just to surviving, but to thriving in post pandemic world. To stay relevant and competitive amid a disruptive environment, companies need to be adept at harnessing technology for greater efficiency, productivity and optimal resources. That way, they can better position themselves for recovery and seize new opportunities for growth.
8. Digitalisation can help companies meet present challenges and address future needs. Let me share with you how it can be done in three key ways.
9. First, the implementation of automation and streamlining of workflows, through the adoption of digital tools, can increase efficiency and productivity, and reduce costs. Let me cite the example of a local SME, Shing Leck Engineering Service Pte Ltd.
a. In 2019, Shing Leck implemented an Inventory Management System which enabled them to digitise their asset tracking operations. We all know that SMEs in the PCM sector have a lot of assets and that can be placed across a big area of land which is not easy for staff to track. In the past, they have to track it manually which involves a lot of time and manpower. By implementing this Inventory Management System, it gives them full visibility of their assets deployed across various locations and helped them better plan the procurement of replacements for key assets. By reducing time spent on manual asset tracking, Shing Leck’s employees were able to focus on delivering higher value-added services to their clients instead.
b. In addition to the Inventory Management System, Shing Leck adopted an Enterprise Resource Planning solution to integrate all business functions spanning accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, as well as supply chain operations. Through these initiatives, Shing Leck is set to increase its current revenue and operating margins by over 30%. This is in addition to considerable manpower time savings gained from reduced paperwork. I want to thank Shing Leck for allowing us to share the story as I understand talking about top line and bottom line is very sensitive. Shing Leck wanted to do so to encourage more SMEs to come onboard. There are tangible cost savings, tangible improvements to your top line and bottom line by going digital.
10. Second, companies can also leverage digital tools to enhance their product and service offerings. In the process sector, safety at plant sites is of paramount importance.
a. Recognising this, another local SME, CYC International Pte. Ltd., pioneered the use of robotic systems to automate tank cleaning and painting works, tasks which are traditionally time-consuming and labour-intensive, and increasingly not easy to find manpower to do so. These robotic systems enhance worksite safety by eliminating the use of elevated platforms such as scaffolds. This has reduced their manpower needs for such works by about 60%, and project duration by around 20%.
11. Third, digitalisation creates the opportunity for companies to redesign jobs. As we redesign the jobs, we also make the jobs more compelling and more attractive to younger Singaporeans.
a. Trident Hydro Jetting, a local water jetting specialist is one such example. Their workers used to perform manual water jetting one tube at a time. Trident upskilled them to operate automated water jetting machines that could clean more tubes simultaneously.
b. Apart from reducing the physical demands of the job, the workers’ productivity saw a jump of 20%. Trident’s strong emphasis on adopting the latest technology has made it attractive for young local graduates to join their team. Armed with fresh talent and digital tools, the company is in good stead to scale the business for the long run.
12. We have seen the tangible benefits that digitalisation has brought to these companies. For businesses that want to stay competitive and relevant in the new normal, the time for embarking on their digital transformation is now.
PCM IDP to Make Your Digitalisation Journey Easier
13. Today, I am pleased to launch the Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for our PCM sector. Jointly developed by ASPRI, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the IDP is a guide to help you assess your company’s digital readiness and assist you in your digitalisation journey.
14. The IDP comprises two roadmaps. First, the Digital Roadmap helps companies identify gaps in their digital capabilities and provides a step-by-step guide to help SMEs find the digital solutions that can be adopted at their different stages of growth. Second, as upskilling the workforce is vital for enterprise growth, the IDP has a Digital Training Roadmap which provides suggestions on training programmes for your company to consider based on the needs of your workers or job roles.
15. Continuous workforce upskilling is crucial to ensure that employees have the skills to support the company’s successful transformation. Companies that invest in building capabilities and upskilling their people are better placed to succeed and to emerge stronger from the crisis.
16. I would like to encourage all our PCM companies to take the first step in digitalisation, if you have not already started on your journey. For PCM companies that have already embarked on the digital journey, I encourage you to press on and take it to the next level of mastery.
17. Before I conclude, let me say a few words in Mandarin.
22. Change is never easy, but it is well worth the hard work, as we have learnt from the experiences of Shing Leck, CYC International and Trident. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Every digitalisation journey is different but no less rewarding.
23. The Government is committed to supporting your transformation efforts. We will continue to work closely with ASPRI and industry partners to ensure that all our PCM companies are well enabled to embark on their road of digital transformation and path to a brighter future.
24. Thank you.
 Three stages being: (1) Getting ready for the digital economy; (2) Growing in the digital economy; and (3) Leaping ahead. Under each stage, the IDP recommends digital solutions that the enterprise can adopt. For instance, under stage 1, enterprises can take more basic steps such as adopting solution to streamline operations and optimise resources.