Speech by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade And Industry (Industry), at the Future Of Manufacturing (FOM) Summit @ Singapore 2017 On 5 September 2017, at Resorts World Sentosa

Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman
A*STAR Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,



A very good morning. I am pleased to join you today at the Future of Manufacturing (FoM) Summit @ Singapore, organised by A*STAR, and supported by the Economic Development Board (EDB), SPRING Singapore, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG). The FoM Summit is the anchor event of the inaugural Future of Manufacturing Singapore series of events. These events, which will take place over the next two weeks, include the World Remanufacturing Summit, the launch of A*STAR’s Tech Access Initiative, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) World Tour.

Singapore’s vision is to be a leading manufacturing hub, plugged into global centres of excellence to drive the future of manufacturing.

The manufacturing sector is a key pillar of our economy, (contributing 20% of our GDP and 14% of total employment in 2016). Globally, manufacturing is being dramatically transformed by advances in technology. Traditional business models in manufacturing are being disrupted, as data, machines and systems can now be connected throughout the value chain from production shop-floor to final distribution. According to a recent report by Forbes1 , smart factories will revolutionize manufacturing by enabling a 7-times increase in overall productivity by 2022, with the potential to add over US$500 billion in value-added to the global economy in five years.

As a trusted manufacturing hub with deep capabilities in several sectors including electronics, chemicals, marine & offshore, and aerospace, Singapore is well- placed to tap on this growth.

The Government is committed to supporting the development of advanced manufacturing technologies in Singapore to ensure the continued competitiveness of our manufacturing sector. Under the 5-year Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan (RIE2020), S$3.2 billion has been committed for the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) domain, to support the development of technological capabilities in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. This includes cross-cutting technologies such as digital manufacturing, robotics and automation, and additive manufacturing.

Our efforts will build on the strong partnerships which we have established over the years with global industry leaders. This will ensure that Singapore continues to be plugged into the centres of excellence around the world, particularly in our key manufacturing verticals.

An example is our partnership with Siemens, which has established its ASEAN regional headquarters in Singapore, with over 1,500 employees. Siemens is collaborating with the Advanced Remanufacturing Technology Centre (ARTC) to develop Industry 4.0 technologies in the areas of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) and Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), as well as data analytics that enables enterprises to create a digital image of their entire value chains. The resulting intelligent data model, known as “digital twin”, makes it possible to manufacture extremely high quality products by merging virtual and real product development, and to accurately predict operational outcomes. Manufacturers can use this data model to guarantee the production of a sophisticated, first-rate product before the actual physical manufacture. This suite of digitalisation technologies can be applied to a wide range of industries including Aerospace & Defence, Automotive, Industrial Machinery, Electronics, Medical Devices & Pharmaceuticals, Marine & Offshore, and Consumer Products, and are currently used by some of ARTC’s member companies.

Later today, A*STAR, NUS and leading pharmaceutical companies GSK, Pfizer, and MSD will sign an MOU to establish the Pharma Innovation Programme Singapore (PIPS). The vision is for Singapore to lead the way in the global transformation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing to create unique value for patients, the pharmaceutical industry and for Singapore. PIPS will bring together Singapore’s public sector research capabilities and the domain expertise of key players in the Pharma industry to improve and transform the manufacturing operations and technologies of the industry. The focus areas for PIPS include continuous manufacturing, bio-catalysis, process analytical technology, advanced process control, and enhanced pharmaceutical operations. 

I think it is particularly noteworthy that this MOU is a collaboration between the public sector in Singapore and leading pharmaceutical companies. This has the potential to pave the way for many more innovative collaborations of this nature, even among companies that compete in the market.

Partnerships will be key to developing FOM capabilities in our local manufacturing ecosystem

Given the complex and dynamic nature of the future of manufacturing, it is important for us to strengthen the partnerships within the local manufacturing ecosystem in order to pool resources, share risk and increase adoption rates. In January this year, Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with A*STAR to set up technology centres focusing on smart manufacturing and IoT. These efforts will enable the local aerospace and manufacturing industries to be early adopters of Industry 4.0 technologies, and provide an open platform for SMEs to collectively develop digital and data analytics capabilities.

I am heartened that a number of Singapore-based companies are also stepping up to create solutions which can transform factory operations and push production frontiers. An example is Meiban, a home-grown precision engineering company, which has launched its iSmart Factory project. Meiban will co-develop solutions with technology partners such as PBA, Arcstone, Kuka and Ransnet. These robotics, automation solutions, and smart factory software will be test-bedded in Meiban’s factories and commercialised by Meiban’s partners for both local and global markets.

To create more opportunities for partnerships, A*STAR is establishing two Model Factories at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and the ARTC. These model factories, which are expected to commence operations by early next year, will bring together public sector researchers, technology providers and other end-users to collaborate and co-develop solutions for manufacturing. The model factories will enable companies to test-bed and build capabilities in advanced technologies, such as additive manufacturing, robotics, industrial IoT, advanced simulations and modelling. These technologies can then be implemented in work processes for greater productivity and operational effectiveness.

The Government is committed to supporting skills development and strengthening the ecosystem to support the transition to FOM

Singapore’s emphasis on talent development and training will be key to the success of our manufacturing sector and companies, and undergird our innovation and technology development efforts.

A study by Accenture in April 2017 highlighted that advanced manufacturing technologies in Singapore’s Energy, Chemicals, and Utilities sectors will profoundly change the jobs and skills that are needed. These skillsets, described as “Digital Confidence”, include basic knowledge of programming, virtual collaboration, data interpretation, as well as softer skills like change management and lifelong learning. Our agencies have worked together to put in place programmes to develop the skills base needed for our manufacturing sector to make a seamless transition to FoM.

The Polytechnics and ITEs are working with SSG, EDB and industry partners to launch Continuous Education and Training (CET) programmes in Digital Confidence for the existing manufacturing workforce by the end of 2017. Some of these programmes could potentially leverage the Model Factories established in ARTC and SIMTech.

In addition, ARTC is collaborating with WSG to provide master classes in areas such as advanced robotics, additive manufacturing and big data analytics, which will enable SMEs to deepen their skills in advanced manufacturing.

Leading companies have also been investing in our engineering talent. McKinsey & Company, for example, is working with A*STAR’s ARTC to conduct joint training sessions on emerging technologies in Industry 4.0. The sessions will leverage the learning modules in the McKinsey Digital Capability Centre Singapore, across themes such as predictive maintenance, digitised performance management, procurement and supply chain, and will benefit industry users, technology providers, local SMEs and startups.

Besides the skillsets of the manufacturing workforce, FOM will also affect sectors which support manufacturing, particularly logistics. Singapore is well- established as the leading logistics hub in Asia. We are the choice location for many global manufacturers seeking connectivity and efficient supply chain management, with over 5,000 firms covering freight forwarding, contract logistics and trucking. FoM will enhance the advantages offered by our strong logistics sector. With the application of technologies such as IoT in the logistics sector, enterprises will become highly productive through the automation of logistics operations. Manufacturers can leverage Singapore’s supply chain networks and infrastructure to connect with suppliers, merchants and consumers, both domestically and across borders, particularly to tap into the growing markets in Asia.


The future of manufacturing in Singapore is an exciting one – where global manufacturing companies continue to anchor their advanced manufacturing activities in Singapore, and our local enterprises leverage advanced manufacturing technologies to develop new products, scale up and become globally competitive, leading to the creation of exciting, good jobs for our people.

And in this endeavour, we are bringing together our public sector, from research, enterprise development and industry development agencies as well as partners from the private sector. It is a holistic approach that does not just look at the technology components but also the manpower components, as well as the skills that are needed. We need all hands on deck for this because this is an important transition, one that holds much promise for the sector in the decades to come.

The FOM Summit today offers an excellent opportunity for our participants to exchange innovative ideas, strengthen partnerships, and explore new collaborations. I look forward to seeing new initiatives sparked by the discussions at this Summit, as well as the other events which are being held as part of Future of Manufacturing Singapore.

Thank you.


Forbes, (2017, June). Smart Factories Will Deliver $550B in value by 2022