The offshore and marine industry has to reinvent itself in order to ride out the downturn, said Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman Beh Swan Gin yesterday.
He noted that companies were facing difficult times, and added: "The sector is a significant contributor to our economy, providing good jobs for Singaporeans, but the continued transformation of the industry is critical for its long-term success."
He also said the EDB will give its "full support" to investments that help yards make more productive use of its resources and assets.
Dr Beh was speaking at the opening of Sembcorp Marine's (Semb-Marine) steel structure fabrication workshop in Tuas, the largest of its kind in South-east Asia.
He pointed to the facility, which is also the first automated hull shop in the region, as an example of how companies can stay competitive amid the oil price slump.
SembMarine chairman Mohd Hassan Marican said the 1.3 million sq ft workshop, comprising five production bays, operates on a streamlined process that halves the number of man-hours and production time previously required for every tonne of steel fabricated.
It also features a fully automated panel production line with capabilities that can "reduce manpower requirement while delivering high- quality precision and efficiency".
The workshop is part of an ongoing 35ha development at SembMarine's Tuas Boulevard Yard, which will add three more dry docks to its four existing ones when completed in 2017.
"(It) will enable Sembcorp Marine to scale up our overall production capacities and capabilities to better serve our customers," said Mr Mohd Hassan Marican.
SembMarine president and chief executive Wong Weng Sun added in a statement that the project is part of the company's efforts to turn the yard into "a high-tech production hub that underpins Semb-corp Marine's ability to compete on value and scale".
"This new facility will integrate with all other capabilities in our flagship Tuas Boulevard Yard and allow us to more effectively offer customers a one-stop shop for offshore and marine engineering solutions," he said.
SembMarine announced in July that it was reorganising its businesses into a single brand and company.
It now focuses on four key areas: rigs and floaters, repairs and upgrades, offshore platforms and specialised shipbuilding.
The rig-builder has been faced with headwinds amid a global oil glut and slowing demand, posting a 75.7 per cent drop in net profit for the three months to Sept 30.
While the firm has previously acknowledged that the immediate operating environment in the offshore rig-building industry remains "very challenging", it has also said that its investments in new capabilities and facilities will help ensure sustainable returns.