Innovation essential to manufacturing: Panel

While the future of manufacturing may be fraught with disruptions, opportunities still abound within the region, a panel concluded yesterday.

The discussion at the Asean-India Business Forum centred on disruptions ranging from technology and innovation to larger economic trends and how they affect manufacturers and supply chain processes across Asia.

The panel, comprising mainly industry representatives, agreed that innovation is essential.

Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association executive director Steven Koh said it may lead to increased competitiveness."With new technological advancements, constraints in time and space have been overcome. Companies can now monitor their operations remotely from a distance. The time for products to reach the market needs to be much shorter in order to be competitive.

"If you cannot adapt fast enough, your sustainability will be eroded."

This push towards innovation may be crucial for businesses to capitalise on the size of Asia's markets.

In India alone, consumption is projected to grow four-fold to around $1.48 trillion by 2025.

Ascendas-Singbridge deputy group chief executive Manohar Khiatani said: "The increasing importance of the Asian consumer is a given. However, digitalisation has changed consumer behaviour... This change will cause consumers to look for more specific and even customised products.

"Products will need to cater to the behaviour of the consumer or the demands of the huge market will not be filled."

Samuel Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Innovation essential to manufacturing: Panel'. Print Edition | Subscribe