Ms. Elise Hong, Chairman of SPETA,
Mr. Steven Koh, Executive Director of SPETA,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good morning to everyone who have joined us today, both physically and virtually. Today’s event marks a milestone for Singapore’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry. The industry has had a difficult time during the pandemic. It has had to pivot and innovate as Singapore journeys towards becoming a COVID-resilient nation.
2. ITAP 2021 is the fourth MICE pilot event that my colleagues have put together to create a roadmap for the opening of the MICE industry, and it helps to underpin the opening of business events. The first was the Joint Leadership Summit where MICE leaders around the world came together. The second was GamesCon 2021 where we had gaming companies coming together. The third was the Bloomberg New Economy Forum held last week. ITAP 2021 represents the fourth of these pilots. It gives us a roadmap to open up and to ensure that businesses can get together and do business literally face to face. So, congratulations to the ITAP team.
3. As Steven mentioned, the industry faced a difficult time during the pandemic. It has had to pivot amid all of the different challenges that COVID-19 has brought. Earlier this morning, we talked about how COVID-19 has constantly thrown curveballs. It will continue to do so not just in Singapore but around the world. Overtime, we have to make adjustments according to the prevailing conditions on the ground, including and especially with business events.
Importance of the Precision Engineering Sector to Singapore’s Economy
4. We are here today to launch the Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for our Precision Engineering (PE) sector. Our PE industry is key to our manufacturing sector. Our manufacturing sector is quite different from many countries because it contributes about a fifth of our GDP and employs over 10% of our workforce. The industry alone employs more than 100,000 workers, and collectively contributes almost $40Bn of GDP. It has a vibrant and diverse industry which provides components, as well as machinery and equipment, to a wide range of businesses, including semiconductor, marine & offshore, and medical technology lines. All key components in our global economy and global supply chains.
5. Despite the supply chain challenges and disruption to manufacturing activities caused by COVID-19, our PE industry has grown and has become resilient. It is in fact thriving. Importantly, it is creating many good jobs for Singaporeans as our companies move up this value chain.
Leveraging digitalisation to maintain international competitiveness
6. As the industry strives to maintain global competitiveness, it is very important that we continue to adopt digitalisation and the different platforms. Many companies in Singapore are already digitalising and making sure that they are ready on these platforms. Digitalisation has many benefits: It helps companies better manage manpower constraints particularly during this crisis, build production capabilities, access new markets, and design interesting and new products and services. Sustainability is a key enabler as well. With the sustainability story, more products and services can be created. We need to acknowledge that some SMEs may not be so familiar or comfortable with technology.
7. To better support them, Enterprise Singapore and IMDA have developed the PE Industry Digital Plan (PE IDP) to introduce our SMEs to basic solutions that help them to kickstart their digital journey, enable them to do higher value work, build core digital capabilities and to enhance their operational productivity.
Introducing the PE IDP
8. The IDP consists of a three-stage Digital Roadmap that helps companies identify gaps in their capabilities as well as the digital solutions they can adopt at different stages of their growth.
9. Stage 1 is at a foundational level where we aim to help SMEs prepare for the digital economy. We introduce our SMEs basic solutions that can help kickstart their digital journey, enable them to do higher-value work, build core digital capabilities and improve their operational productivity. For example, with support from ESG, local tooling company Koei Tool Singapore adopted a Design and Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAM) software to increase their company’s capability in pre-preparing work processes. This has enabled each programmer to produce up to 150 to 200 programmes per year, as compared to 40 to 50 programmes in the past. That represents a three to four-fold increase.
10. Once companies are more comfortable with digitalisation and ready to scale their efforts, we move on to stage 2. This stage highlights digital solutions that enable SMEs to connect digitally to optimise business value. For instance, local company Onn Wah Tech Pte Ltd has deployed an Overall Equipment Effectiveness system. This system automatically captures data about their production process, and displays it on digital dashboards. This helps Onn Wah Tech monitor the status of each individual machine without conducting time-consuming manual inspections. Onn Wah estimates that the time spent on individual inspections have been reduced by as much as 3.6 hours a day.
11. Finally, we move on to stage 3, which recommends measures to help companies automate their operations and move towards becoming a smart business powered by technology. For local Precision Engineering and Plastic Engineering company Certact Engineering, this will involve the purchase of automated machines like robotics cells with conveyor systems to replace the current manual machine tending. Ellis Eng, Certact’s Managing Director, will share more about their journey later.
12. These are all machines. At the core of it, is people. Employees are critical in making sure that this business transformation takes place. There is a corresponding digital training roadmap under the IDP. The roadmap helps companies tailor their training programmes to their employee needs, as well as their relevant stage of transformation. This will help the employees level up together with their employer, and ensure that they are able to adapt and confidently use these technologies.
13. My main message today is therefore that digitalisation is and will continue to be a way of life. It’s just how businesses are these days. And the good news is that it is not as intimidating as it may seem. If we break the process down into simple steps and bite-sized chunks, and journey alongside our companies, every company, including SMEs, can embrace it and build digital solutions into every single part of their business.
14. For our part, the government will continue to partner companies, like yourselves, to build these capabilities. And we are walking the talk. At the end of the day, it is about creating good opportunities for Singaporeans. We will work closely with SPETA, as well as other partners, to ensure that our companies can tap on all of these resources and digitalise.
15. I am excited to see all of the different activities, products and services that the companies have put in place. Again, a huge congratulations to the team for a very successful ITAP 2021. Thank you.