A*STAR kicks off S$18m supply chain 4.0 initiative with partners, opens supply chain control tower to testbed solutions
22 Nov 2021
This public-private partnership will develop solutions for more agile, resilient, and secure supply chains, and has attracted over 50 companies
SINGAPORE – The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) launched a Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative at the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific trade show today to develop digital and automation solutions to meet businesses’ demands for technologies to make supply chains more agile, resilient, and secure. A*STAR also opened a Supply Chain Control Tower, where it will testbed these solutions with partners.
With a total investment of S$18 million over two years, the Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative is led by A*STAR and supported by two research partners: the National University of Singapore (NUS) through its Centre for Next Generation Logistics, and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). The initiative has attracted over 50 companies from across five sectors (aerospace, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), pharmaceuticals, precision engineering, and semiconductors), including multinational companies such as Procter & Gamble (P&G) and local SMEs such as enterprise software provider PD Solutions.
Researchers will focus on pharmaceuticals and FMCG sectors for a start. With these end users in mind, researchers will co-create solutions with businesses such as software solution providers, system integrators, logistics companies, and retailers. Using Industry 4.0 technologies, researchers will undertake projects in three areas: digital value chain, data-driven optimisation, and smart warehouse automation and next-generation logistics. These solutions will help companies to secure supply chain monitoring, better manage disruption and manage the movement of goods. (More information in Annex.)
Contributions and capabilities:
- These solutions will be testbedded at A*STAR’s new Supply Chain Control Tower housed at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), a unit of A*STAR. McKinsey & Company is A*STAR’s knowledge partner for the Supply Chain Control Tower; the firm contributed to the conceptualisation of the tower and will co-develop industrial use cases with A*STAR.
- The Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative will draw capabilities from three A*STAR units: ARTC, the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), and the Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC).
- Under the initiative, A*STAR will also offer training courses to help train the local manufacturing workforce in Supply Chain 4.0 technologies. A*STAR will add these courses to its suite of training courses – such as those offered by the Knowledge Transfer Office under ARTC and SIMTech – to equip workers with knowledge and skills to seize opportunities in this fourth industrial revolution.
Industry demand for solutions for supply chain digitisation is strong, especially given the disruption brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses want not only efficiency in the supply chain but also flexibility. Our new Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative is an ecosystem effort to create innovative solutions for more agile, resilient, and secure supply chains to benefit businesses and consumers in Singapore and beyond. A*STAR researchers will collaborate with researchers from local universities to co-innovate technologies, and along the way we will work with local companies such as system integrators to co-develop solutions and implement them for end users.
Professor Alfred Huan, Assistant Chief Executive of A*STAR’s Science and Engineering Research Council
Having built our capability in the digital twin of next-generation warehouse, it is our endeavour at the C4NGL to make the solution accessible and affordable to the SMEs and to extend it to the whole supply chain. We hope that our collaborative work with A*STAR in the next few years will bring us closer to our goal. The digital twin we aim to build will be easily configurable and can be used by the industry as a planning, operations and risk management tool. Our solution will lead to better optimised and more resilient supply chains.
Professor Lee Loo Hay, Director of Centre for Next Generation Logistics (C4NGL) at the NUS
As the international supply chain continues to be disrupted by a plethora of global events, the need to accelerate digitisation and automation in the local industry is even more critical. In this Supply Chain 4.0 project, SUTD will work closely with A*STAR and NUS to develop advanced and novel robotic systems and technologies to support smart warehousing and next-generation logistics. This new initiative deepens SUTD’s existing research collaboration with A*STAR, especially in RIE2025 common domains of interest.
Professor Chua Chee Kai, SUTD’s Head of Engineering Product Development pillar
Supply Chain Optimisation is vital to global companies, especially in volatile regions such as ours, where challenges from tariffs, trade policies, natural disasters and pandemic lockdown all played a role. To this end, P&G invests in boosting Supply Chain Digital Technologies and innovations to transform our operations. Through collaboration with the Government bodies such as EDB and A*STAR, we are able to leverage Singapore’s status as a reliable, integrated and sustainable supply chain hub. We hope to forge stronger collaborations and innovations in integrated and sustainable technological solutions as foundations upon which agility and resilience can be built.
Mr Sam Garcia, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain, Procter & Gamble Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa
A*STAR creates new opportunities for local SMEs like us through R&D, and helps us grow. We are excited about the Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative – we look forward to co-developing solutions with A*STAR and implementing them for businesses, and at the same time, we will enhance our domain expertise in supply chain technologies by taking up A*STAR’s training courses. By working with A*STAR – we are a member of the ARTC consortium – we have evolved rapidly and moved up the value chain. For example, we collaborated with ARTC researchers to tap on Industry 4.0 technologies to implement an automated production scheduling solution for Coca-Cola’s concentrate plant in Singapore, reducing the time required for order scheduling, and is being rolled out in other concentrate plants around the world. Aside from such Industry 4.0 initiatives, we are keen to take on other projects for supply chain resilience too.
Mr Tay Ming Hui, Managing Director of PD Solutions
ANNEX – Details of Projects under Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative
ANNEX – DETAILS OF PROJECTS UNDER SUPPLY CHAIN 4.0 INITIATIVE
Under the Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative, researchers will undertake seven projects under three work packages:
- Digital value chain
a. Design a federated supply chain collaborative platform to maintain data sovereignty, enabling the exchange of metadata while keeping big data onsite
b. Develop a framework to improve security and authentication of Internet of Things (IoT) devices for supply chain monitoring
- Data-driven optimisation
a. Design ways to optimise supply chain network and analyse dynamic behaviour of supply chain for better disruption management
b. Automate management of orders and real-time replanning through natural language processing
c. Develop solutions to forecast demand more accurately using artificial intelligence
- Smart warehouse automation and next-generation logistics
a. Develop flexible robotic solutions to move goods into and out of warehouses more easily
b. Develop solutions to manage diverse fleet of autonomous vehicles in warehouses