Rolls-Royce, A*Star team up to champion smart manufacturing

Rolls-Royce chairman, Mr Ian Davis, speaking at the memorandum of understanding signing ceremony at Marriott Hotel, on Jan 9, 2016.
Rolls-Royce chairman, Mr Ian Davis, speaking at the memorandum of understanding signing ceremony at Marriott Hotel, on Jan 9, 2016.PHOTO: ROLLS-ROYCE

British engine giant Rolls-Royce and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) are teaming up to develop digital and data analytics capabilities for various industries here.

The two parties inked a memorandum of understanding yesterday to set up technology centres here that will focus on smart manufacturing and the Internet of Things (IOT).

The proposed centres will include a laboratory aimed at developing IoT sensors using advances in nanotechnology and microelectronics, and a computational science development laboratory that can help create solutions to make use of the sensors, such as analytics software, applications design and cyber security.

The centres will also develop Future of Manufacturing capabilities, including advanced technologies and processes for manufacturing, assembly and maintenance, repair and overhaul applications.

This comes as the Committee on the Future Economy is slated to unveil its recommendations later this month, which are expected to include strategies for Singapore's manufacturing sector to stay competitive.

"Indeed, the future of manufacturing will be driven by Industry 4.0 technologies, such as the Internet of Things, additive manufacturing, digital manufacturing, robotics and advanced materials," A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh said at the signing ceremony.

"In this increasingly mobile, networked world, businesses that do not invest in digital capabilities will be disrupted."

Mr Lim told The Straits Times the new technology centres - the first of which could be set up within a year - are expected to benefit companies across sectors, from industrial to healthcare to fintech, including small and medium-sized enterprises. They will also help ensure Singapore continues to create "exciting, high-level jobs" in line with today's digital age.

"Our vision in this effort is that over a period of time, Singapore will become the leading hub in advanced manufacturing and technology," said Mr Lim.

"We don't have the land to have a lot of the manufacturing in Singapore but this will be where companies do the most interesting things, the latest.

"This will be where companies house their most advanced manufacturing activities, the most productive and the most efficient, and pilot them (processes or technologies) before rolling them out to their manufacturing facilities in other locations."

The new centres are part of Rolls-Royce's "focus on building up our digital capabilities and, with that, our (supporting) digital ecosystem", said chairman Ian Davis.

The effort will allow the company to have "a complete end-to-end view of our products throughout its life cycle, from R&T (research and technology) through to helping our customers maximise the benefits of their assets and optimise their operations, (and) to help us win future global market share".

Rolls-Royce, whose 50-year presence here started with a representative office, makes cars and engines.

It is one of the founding members of A*Star's Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre - Asia's first facility for test-bedding and developing manufacturing technologies - which was launched in 2015.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'Rolls-Royce, A*Star team up to champion smart manufacturing'. Print Edition | Subscribe