Makino boosts output with $100m smart facility

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon trying out Makino Asia's Smart Glasses, which provide real-time information to engineers on the ground who are trying to fix technical faults in machines. On his left is Mr K. S. Sankaran,
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon trying out Makino Asia's Smart Glasses, which provide real-time information to engineers on the ground who are trying to fix technical faults in machines. On his left is Mr K. S. Sankaran, vice-chairman of Makino Asia.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

It can double machine production capacity through automation, data exchange tech

Precision engineering firm Makino Asia launched a $100 million smart facility yesterday that is expected to nearly double its machine production capacity through automation and data exchange technology.

The launch marked the culmination of a digital transformation for the company that began in 2016 under the Government's precision engineering Industry Transformation Map (ITM), which aims to raise the sector's output to $42 billion by 2020, from $32 billion in 2014.

This ITM was rolled out as part of a $4.5 billion package aimed at providing companies such as Makino with industry-specific help to digitalise, invest in new technologies and prepare workers for the future.

"Under the precision engineering ITM, we outlined our intent to support companies in their transformation journey through smart factory projects and I am glad Makino has taken on the challenge," said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, the guest of honour.

"The success of a smart factory depends not just on how much money you invest and hardware alone but also on equipping the workforce with the right skills and mindsets."

Makino's facility in Tuas comprises an assembly factory and a newly-built machining factory.

Automated guided forklifts transport machine castings from one factory to another, with everything from the replenishing of parts in inventories to the disposal of loose chips now monitored and controlled by automated processes.

The facility is powered by 5,300 solar panels, which Makino said will cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 1,000 tonnes annually, equivalent to removing 200 cars from Singapore roads.

An Internet of Things (IoT) Centre also allows Makino to track all its machines in operation for customers around Asia and predict which units need maintenance before a breakdown occurs.

IoT refers to a network of connected devices that aggregates real-time information from the devices for a certain purpose.

Dr Koh noted that a customised course developed by Makino and Temasek Polytechnic last year has trained more than 500 employees on Industry 4.0 and the firm's transformation roadmap.

The Tuas facility also includes a training centre where new hires undergo a mandatory Workforce Transformation programme focused on automation skills.

Makino Asia's chief executive officer and president Neo Eng Chong said: "The automation and digitalisation of the facility embodies our vision to provide the most effective and efficient solutions to meet our customers' needs. The establishment of the IoT Centre to provide real-time support is yet another milestone for us."

The manufacturing sector accounts for around 21 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product, and 14 per cent of the workforce.

Adoption of industrial IoT is becoming widespread across Asia.

A survey of 40 business leaders from the manufacturing sector in Asia found that 62.5 per cent had already adopted IoT and are looking to expand its use in their business.

The report, released by law firms Osborne Clarke and Conventus Law yesterday, also found that China is the Asian market where the most respondents (72.5 per cent) have adopted or are planning to adopt IoT. For Singapore, it is 55 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2019, with the headline 'Makino boosts output with $100m smart facility'. Print Edition | Subscribe