Plan to boost quality, standards ecosystem

Focus will be on emerging areas like robotics and advanced manufacturing, says Iswaran

Statutory board Spring Singapore is set to enhance the ecosystem of quality and standards here, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said yesterday.

The move comes after Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Tuesday that this would be a pillar of the future economy, with a $100 million budget to drive efforts over the next five years.

First, Spring Singapore's push to build quality and standards will focus on emerging areas where new standards are essential, such as in advanced manufacturing and robotics, said Mr Iswaran at the Quality and Standards Conference.

For example, Spring Singapore is working on developing a quality and standards roadmap for a cluster known as the "Future of Manufacturing" - to cover areas from the "Internet of things" and nanomaterials to 3D printing and advanced robotics. All these are technologies set to shape and re-shape the manufacturing sector of the future, he noted.

Quality and standards will also help transform industries.

For instance, the logistics sector requires a seamlessly connected supply chain system to support a range of distributed manufacturing and new kinds of retail activities.

In April, Singapore launched the world's first standard in its field, TR46:2016 for Last Mile Delivery- eCommerce Data Interchange, which will improve productivity for the logistics sector and the retail sector, as it enables eCommerce orders to be fulfilled more smoothly.

The standard uses a common dataset and document flow between retailers and logistics service providers, ridding the need for multiple platforms. Through an implementation trial of TR46, nine companies have seen integration cost reduced by up to 70 per cent, and it has helped cut delivery times and errors.

"It is a very vivid example of how standards... can fuel the growth and transformation of these sectors," said Mr Iswaran.

Singapore will also deepen participation in international and regional networks to sustain the connectivity and relevance of its standards.

Mutual recognition deals between countries will facilitate market access for companies, as they ensure products and services tested and certified here are accepted overseas.

Deeper involvement in key international groups, such as the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission, will help advance Singapore's interests. Last month, Singapore was elected as chair of the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation.

Finally, Spring will partner stakeholders, including institutes of higher learning, to incorporate quality and standards modules into the national skills framework, ensuring the workforce has the skills, knowledge and mindset, Mr Iswaran added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2016, with the headline 'Plan to boost quality, standards ecosystem'. Print Edition | Subscribe