New supply chain lab at Republic Polytechnic for student training and SMEs' use

SINGAPORE - Smaller logistics companies will have access to sophisticated technology at a new innovation lab unveiled on Monday (Oct 12) at Republic Polytechnic (RP).

The 1,000 sq m Supply Chain Innovation Lab - nearly the size of an Olympic swimming pool - simulates a distribution centre and will help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop and try out new logistics solutions.

Logistics students will have hands-on training in the lab, which features an automated setup of a driverless forklift, automatic picking system and a robotic arm. It is believed to be the first such setup in South-east Asia.

The innovation lab will also contain a Lean Production and Services lab by April next year, after a cooperation agreement was signed on Monday between RP and management consultancy McKinsey & Company to develop it. The second lab will be a place for students and businesses to learn to improve operations management while producing real products in a factory setup.

Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education Low Yen Ling said at the launch event at RP that the logistics industry, which contributed about 7 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product last year and employs over 188,000 workers, has been identified as a future growth cluster.

"The Government will continue to grow this sector by enhancing our logistics infrastructure so that our companies are well-positioned to seize growth opportunities," she told about 300 company representatives and students at the start of RP's Technology Festival.

A vibrant logistics industry will enhance competitiveness in the manufacturing sector and improve productivity in the services sector, she added.

Also on Monday, RP launched the logistics industry's Earn and Learn Programme under the SkillsFuture initiative to equip students and workers with industry-relevant skills.

A total of 36 mentors from 15 logistics companies, including DHL Supply Chain Singapore and ST Logistics, will be training the 39 graduates from all the polytechnics in the first batch. The new hires will be working towards a Specialist Diploma in Supply Chain Management while getting on-the-job training at work.