Ms Chan Lai Fung, Chairman, A*STAR,
ARTC Consortium members,
ARTC Steering, Programme and Technical Boards (both past and present),
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. It is my pleasure to join you this evening to commemorate the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC)’s 10th Anniversary. The centre has come a long way since its inception ten years ago. With only a few founding anchor members in 2012, the ARTC has grown into a leading research centre with a consortium of close to 100 members comprising Multi-National Corporations (MNCs), Large Local Enterprises (LLEs) and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across different industries.
2. This decade long collaboration has accrued tremendous benefits for our companies and will continue to play an important role in the pursuit of our national priorities. One such priority is the transformation of our manufacturing sector which accounts for almost half a million jobs in Singapore and contributes to 20 per cent of our total GDP at around S$106 billion.
3. As mentioned by Chairman in her opening remarks, under the Manufacturing 2030 Vision announced last year, our goal is to grow this value by 50 per cent in the next decade. She added earlier on at the cocktail session that I should have a more ambitious target for management. After hearing her inspiring speech and at a function like this where nobody would really listen that much, I wanted to slip it in, but it is now quite quiet, which I did not expect it to be so. I think I will quietly whisper later on to David. Public-private partnership models such as ARTC play an indispensable role in achieving our vision in three ways.
Helping our companies move up the value chain into advanced manufacturing
4. First, ARTC plays an important role in helping our companies to harness the power of emerging technologies to move up the value chain into advanced manufacturing. Industry 4.0 technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and quantum computing will change the way we manufacture and how we distribute and sell products. To cement our position as a globally competitive manufacturing hub, we must be able to translate these technological breakthroughs into real life industrial and commercial applications.
5. To this end, public-private partnership models like ARTC serve as a conduit by bringing together government agencies, research institutes, and businesses to co-innovate and co-deploy dynamic technologies in the industry.
a. A good example would be the Smart Manufacturing Joint Lab pioneered by A*STAR, Rolls Royce and Singapore Aero Engine Services Private Limited (SAESL) in 2017.
i. The Joint Lab provides a platform for companies to test bed new technological applications in the aerospace as well as the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sectors. Over the past five years, a total investment of S$69 million has been made to the Joint Lab. To date, the Joint Lab has seen nearly 30 R&D projects involving around 100 companies.
ii. One of the innovative industrial applications the Joint Lab has pioneered is an automated nitride spray process for the coating of aircraft engine blades which has been deployed by a local company, KA Industrial Engineering for Rolls-Royce’s Seletar facility. Another notable application is the use of cameras and specialised lighting to automate parts of the inspection process for the manufacturing of jet engines. Perhaps we could use that specialised lighting to shine on the speaker next time so that we can look a little younger. These innovations have helped reduce manhours and improved the efficiency of the production process.
b. Another example would be the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. To help our companies distinguish themselves from global competitors, ARTC is working with MNCs and SMEs to develop manufacturing capabilities that would enable our companies to tailor their products according to each customer’s preference.
i. This includes technologies such as smart filling and smart dispensing solutions that can adjust the dosage of ingredients according to customer’s demand on a real time basis.
ii. Through this platform – called the Next-Generation Hyper-Personalisation Line – companies can testbed their solutions in a controlled environment before implementing them in their manufacturing process.
ARTC will play an important role to help industry adapt to the future challenges
6. The second way in which ARTC would contribute to the Manufacturing Vision is by helping our companies adapt to the challenges and constraints that has emerged in recent years. One such challenge that has become evident is the vulnerability of the global supply chain. While post-pandemic recovery has offered some relief, supply chains continue to remain susceptible to unexpected disruptions as recent geopolitical events have clearly demonstrated.
a. To strengthen our response to future disruptions, ARTC, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) jointly launched the Supply Chain 4.0 programme in 2021 to prepare our companies for future supply chain shocks through digital and automation technologies. This can be done, for instance, by helping companies prepare for such a scenario through running computer simulations of supply chain disruptions. To date, more than 50 companies from across five sectors have come on board the Supply Chain 4.0 initiative.
7. Sustainability is another area which ARTC could support our manufacturers in a carbon-constrained world. With increasing global momentum on climate action, manufacturers need to pivot and transform their products to be more sustainable, in order to meet investors and consumers’ demands. Technology will be a key enabler for companies to transit towards a net zero future without compromising production.
8. I’m pleased to learn that ARTC is already working with industry partners and national platforms, such as the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC), to explore ways for our companies to enhance environmental sustainability in their production process through the use of nature-based or cradle-to-cradle designs.
ARTC will play an instrumental role in preparing the workforce for industry transformation
9. Lastly, our vision for the manufacturing sector would not be possible without a strong pipeline of talent to support the transformation. This requires us to not just put in place the appropriate curriculums in schools, but also a framework to emplace students into the manufacturing workforce.
10. To this end, ARTC’s Future of Manufacturing Workforce programme plays an important role by providing training for students from various Institutes of Higher Learning. Since 2020, the programme has reached out to more than 1,400 students.
a. To ensure that existing workers remain updated with the latest trends in advanced manufacturing sector, ARTC’s Knowledge Transfer Office also works in close collaboration with SkillsFuture Singapore, to provide unique technology and case study-based training for industry professionals.
b. Such initiatives support our plans to develop a strong manufacturing workforce that will strengthen Singapore’s position as a globally competitive manufacturing hub.
11. In conclusion, I did some rough math based on what Chairman has talked about in the ten years, growing from 12 to 97. That is eight-fold growth. If you follow the same trajectory, in ten years’ time, we would have about 900 companies. So, I want to thank ARTC for its contribution to the manufacturing sector over the past decade. The future of advanced manufacturing is exciting, and full of opportunities. The government, private sector and research institutes must continue to work closely and tap on each other’s strengths to seize the opportunities in the future of manufacturing.
12. I wish you all a wonderful evening. Thank you.