Digital aid for marine, offshore engineering

Road maps to help 1,000 firms and 75,000 staff chart solutions, training plan to improve skills

A quality technician extracting data from an automated optical camera system at the Tuas premises of manufacturer Completion Products. An ICF International employee testing virtual reality tools. The company, which provides solutions for the marine a
An ICF International employee testing virtual reality tools. The company, which provides solutions for the marine and offshore energy sector, implemented an integrated enterprise resource planning solution and is creating virtual reality capabilities.PHOTO: ICF INTERNATIONAL
A quality technician extracting data from an automated optical camera system at the Tuas premises of manufacturer Completion Products. An ICF International employee testing virtual reality tools. The company, which provides solutions for the marine a
A quality technician extracting data from an automated optical camera system at the Tuas premises of manufacturer Completion Products. PHOTO: COMPLETION PRODUCTS

Some 1,000 firms and 75,000 staff from the marine and offshore engineering sector are expected to get more help in digitalising their operations with a new industry digital plan launched yesterday.

It will guide companies in assessing their digital readiness and identifying ways to go digital.

Under the plan, two road maps have been developed - one to chart different digital solutions that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can adopt at each stage of their business growth, and another to offer a corresponding training road map for workers to equip them with the right skill sets.

The Marine & Offshore Engineering Industry Digital Plan is jointly developed by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling said at the virtual launch yesterday that the sector is a significant contributor to the economy, accounting for $11.5 billion in total output in 2019.

The sector has been facing structural headwinds in recent years, in part owing to declining oil prices and the global energy transition, she noted.

She said: "A key way to enhance resilience is through widespread digitalisation. The adoption of technology by the sector enhances the ability of companies to capture both existing and emerging opportunities globally... Enterprises can also leverage digitalisation to improve product and service offerings."

Ms Esther Xu, ESG director for marine and offshore and engineering services, said: "The industry was already facing major shifts such as... the rapid advancements in technology such as Industrial Internet of Things, cloud computing, robotics and artificial intelligence.

"As an export-oriented sector, SMEs will need to leverage digital technology and solutions to manage current challenges and, in the longer run, stay ahead of global competition."

She added that it is not just about knowing which digital solutions are available, but understanding how different technology can be applied to deliver business value and impact.

The plan provides a step-by-step guide from basic digital solutions that can help firms streamline operations to solutions that can help firms that are ready to scale up.

Finally, it also identifies advanced technologies that SMEs can adopt to be more competitive. These include autonomous robots and drones to perform tasks such as worksite monitoring or inspections.

Ms Catherine Chong, IMDA director for the SMEs Go Digital programme, said: "With the increasing shortage in skilled manpower and rising global competition, it is vital for SMEs in the industry to build greater resilience to adapt and thrive in the digital future.

"SMEs can seize new growth opportunities by integrating and investing in relevant digital technologies to enhance their productivity and business performance."

For example, ICF Group, which provides solutions for the marine and offshore energy sector, implemented an integrated enterprise resource planning solution and is creating virtual reality capabilities.

Chief executive Annie Chua said: "We were also facing challenges with the talent pool in the industry, and it was hard to recruit the right people, so something had to be done in order to reduce manpower requirements, yet sustain operational excellence and quality."

Manufacturer Completion Products digitalised its internal processes and adopted new software and machinery to reduce material waste and project lead time, which has lowered its operating expenditure by 10 per cent.

"Our digitalisation initiative aims to allow our human capital to focus on innovation, continuous improvement and problem solving, while reducing administrative functions. Digitalisation is not a place to think about, it is a place to be," the firm said in a statement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2021, with the headline 'Digital aid for marine, offshore engineering'. Subscribe