Singapore, Germany join hands in model factory initiative to boost advanced manufacturing

Senior Minister of State Dr Koh Poh Koon and Dr Ulrich Sante, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Singapore, on a tour of A*Star's newly launched Model Factory@SIMTech at Fusionopolis.
Senior Minister of State Dr Koh Poh Koon and Dr Ulrich Sante, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Singapore, on a tour of A*Star's newly launched Model Factory@SIMTech at Fusionopolis.PHOTO: A*STAR
Senior Minister of State Dr Koh Poh Koon and Dr Ulrich Sante, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Singapore, on a tour of A*Star's newly launched Model Factory@SIMTech at Fusionopolis.
Senior Minister of State Dr Koh Poh Koon and Dr Ulrich Sante, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Singapore, on a tour of A*Star's newly launched Model Factory@SIMTech at Fusionopolis.PHOTO: A*STAR

SINGAPORE - The Republic's first model factory will have a sister facility in Germany, thanks to a memorandum of understanding inked at its launch on Thursday (Oct 5).

The 6,500 sq ft facility, at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SimTech) in one-north, is part of a government research agency scheme to let companies get up close with advanced capabilities in a learning environment, without having to make tweaks to their own operations in the interim. The scheme was announced at this year's Budget.

The deal with Germany's Die Lernfabrik @ TU Braunschweig, or "Learning Factory" from the TU9 technology institute alliance, will see the two model factories pair up to collaborate in areas of expertise such as energy management and industrial symbiosis.

Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, said at the model factory's opening: "The Government cannot achieve industry transformation through just technology alone.

"Partnerships, both international and local, are important to amplify the reach of our initiatives and generate more benefits for our companies."

He added: "To capture the opportunities from the new era of manufacturing, it is imperative that the public and private sectors work closely together to access, develop and deploy new technologies."

German Ambassador Ulrich Sante said of the Industry 4.0 drive: "It is far more than a change of processes in manufacturing - it is actually a genuine revolution affecting all aspects of our lives."

The establishment of model factories, he noted, has been a boon for industry players and institutions of higher learning worldwide to launch best practices.

"It is in no way a surprise that it is in Singapore where one of the first model factories in the region will put operations under way," said Dr Sante, pointing to the Government's Smart Nation push.

The Model Factory@SimTech will play host to classes that involve live demonstration and hands-on training, and research and development partnerships will also be on offer with the model factory production line as a test-bed for new technology possibilities.

A pilot data dashboard system, based on an airport control tower, will give visitors to the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) model factory the chance to play with production-line scenarios and potentially adopt tools for their own factories.

The model factory was launched in conjunction with the annual conference for the Manufacturing Productivity Technology Centre, which was set up in 2011 and housed at SimTech to give companies access to A*Star's automation, process and system tools.

SimTech has also partnered the global Boston Consulting Group, offering the consultancy firm access to its model factory facilities while drawing on the firm's experience working with similar set-ups overseas.

A second A*Star model factory will be unveiled in 2018 at its Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre.