Embracing transformation: Factories of the Future

Embracing transformation: Factories of the future

Manufacturing is a core industry in Singapore- contributing 20 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Given its importance- innovation is an imperative not only for the manufacturing industry but also for Singapore’s future economic growth. Industry 4.0 is not just a pithy catchphrase but a powerful digitalising force for the manufacturing sector.

Industry 4.0 unifies technologies such as advanced robotics- artificial intelligence- sophisticated sensors- cloud computing and data analytics to transform the manufacturing floor.

As Singapore’s lead science and technology agency- A*STAR has introduced several initiatives to encourage Industry 4.0 adoption among Singaporean manufacturing companies.

A*STAR’s ‘Model Factories’ Initiative

A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) is working with CKE Manufacturing Pte Ltd, a local SME that produces precision parts for the aerospace- defence and oil and gas industries to pilot the Manufacturing Control Tower (MCT).

Providing a dashboard like in an airport control tower, MCT is an all-in-one data platform that tracks and analyses real-time data from multiple machines using sensors to diagnose problems and improve decision-making.

MCT is one of the key platforms- developed under A*STAR’s 'Model Factories’ initiative – simulating production environments where companies can experiment and learn new manufacturing technologies. These Model Factories allow SMEs to test new technologies with the help of public sector researchers before adopting into their factories.

A*STAR’s Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC)also helps SMEs improve their manufacturing processes through industry collaborations.

For instance, ARTC teamed up local company Sankei Eagle with aerospace heavyweight Rolls-Royce, to automate the time-consuming process of masking paint,free portions for hundreds of aerospace components before spray-painting. This freed up the large numbers of foreign workers that Sankei Eagle previously had to engage for this manual process.

A*STAR Collaborative Commerce Marketplace (ACCM)

Besides the ‘Model Factory’ initiative- A*STAR also reaches out to Singapore’s manufacturing industry with the A*STAR Collaborative Commerce Marketplace (ACCM). ACCM is an e-portal for manufacturers, connecting Singaporean manufacturing companies with relevant clients and collaborators.

Like Linkedin, this portal aims to foster business collaborations between SMEs suppliers and multi-national corporations (MNCs), as well as bridge technological gaps by connecting companies with research institutes and institutes of higher learning. Given their flatter decision-making hierarchy- SMEs are nimbler in adapting to change. Manufacturing SMEs can thus play a huge part in bringing about innovation in Singapore’s manufacturing industry. The initiatives outlined above will help these SMEs position themselves to enter the Industry 4.0 era.