Automation and advanced manufacturing a catalyst for foreign firm investments here

The focus on manufacturing automation in Singapore is making it an attractive place for foreign firms looking to expand in the region.
The focus on manufacturing automation in Singapore is making it an attractive place for foreign firms looking to expand in the region. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore is still the choice location for foreign firms to grow their regional presence and operations, as the government's focus on manufacturing automation becomes the catalyst for further investments.

Among them were Pilz, a German automation and industrial safety firm that opened their Southeast Asian headquarters in Singapore on June 30.

The new headquarters will hire 25 staff to enable direct services to regional customers. It is based here because Singapore is a good fit for what the firm stands for, chief executive Renate Pilz said.

"Both (Singapore and Pilz) believe in long-term planning including the need to protect invention and innovation, value the importance of research and development and skills development of the people," she said during the headquarters' launch.

She added: "Singapore's integrity, quality, reliability, productivity, rule of law and enforcement of intellectual property rights have strengthened our belief that we were right in our decision to establish the Southeast Asian subsidiary here."

Aside from headquarter functions, Pilz is also looking to set up an engineering design centre here in three years.

For Singapore, these investments will complement the national push to grow advanced manufacturing through automation technology, which was one of the key thrusts highlighted by Budget 2016, with a S$400 million package introduced to support company adoption.

Economic Development Board director for cities, infrastructure and industrial solutions Fong Pin Fen said: "As Singapore and regional markets look to transform our manufacturing activities, Pilz is able to export safety solutions integrated with the latest manufacturing technologies. This will give companies the confidence that these new and emerging technologies are safe to adopt."

Pilz's announcement followed the move by Kimberly-Clark early last month to expand their manufacturing lines at its Tuas plant with automated capabilities.

Speaking at the consumer product giant's plant expansion ceremony, Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said these efforts "are in line with (Singapore's) national productivity drive."

"We will continue to partner the industry to train and prepare our workforce to take up new opportunities in advanced manufacturing," Mr Iswaran added.

whwong@sph.com.sg