Innovation saves Mindef and SAF $164m

Mr Ong (second from right) watching a demonstration of an operation being done inside the RDMC. The navy's medical container allows its medical teams to perform surgery at sea.
Mr Ong (second from right) watching a demonstration of an operation being done inside the RDMC. The navy's medical container allows its medical teams to perform surgery at sea.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Test ideas in 'sandboxes' where failures can be small, fast and cheap, says Ong Ye Kung

Innovation has saved the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) $164 million this year, 16 per cent more than last year.

Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung emphasised the importance of such innovation yesterday, citing Singapore's challenges in a globalised economy, such as climate change and terrorism.

While there is less leeway for governmental organisations to fail as it impacts the public significantly, there is room for "sandboxes" where they can test innovative ideas and "fail small, fail fast, and fail cheap", he said.

Mr Ong was speaking at the Mindef Productivity and Innovation in Daily Efforts (Pride) Day 2016 awards presentation ceremony, held at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Expo and Convention Centre.

The Pride movement, now in its 35th year, promotes a culture of organisational excellence, innovation and productivity across Mindef and the SAF. This year's theme is "Smart defence: innovation, science and technology".

A total of 184 awards across 16 categories were presented to individuals, groups and units, for outstanding innovative projects.

Some of the projects are on show at the SGDefence Exhibition, a highlight of the Defence Technology Community's 50th anniversary celebrations.

Mr Ong launched the exhibition at MBS Expo and Convention Centre Hall A. Entry is free and it will be open to the public from 11am to 8pm daily till Tuesday.

One of the award-winning projects on display is the Rapidly Deployable Maritime Container (RDMC) by the Navy Medical Services of the Republic of Singapore Navy.

The head of Medical Doctrine and Training Branch, Major (Dr) James Kwek, said the idea came about as existing medical containers fell short of expectations.

"We wanted a container that could be rapidly deployed, and compatible with the naval environment, which means that it should be integrated and cross-deployable across multiple naval platforms," he said, adding that they wanted the containers to meet the medical industry's best practices standards.

The RDMC can be deployed by two men in 10 minutes, an improvement from the previous container, which took four men up to an hour.

Last September, it was deployed in Northern Sulawesi for Operations Surya Bhaskara, a socio-civic mission jointly conducted by the Singapore and Indonesia navies. Ten operations were conducted during the mission.

Mr Ong said: "The new features of the RDMC have garnered keen interest from established navies, with the United States Pacific Fleet asking for the RDMC to be cross-deployed on their High Speed Vessels."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline 'Innovation saves Mindef and SAF $164m'. Print Edition | Subscribe