New programme launched to help manufacturing sector adopt new tech

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon (second from right) touring the Smart Manufacturing Living Lab. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - More help is on the horizon to help manufacturing companies and workers transition to Industry 4.0.

A Digital and Advanced Manufacturing Programme to support digitalisation in the sector was launched on Thursday (Dec 19) by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central.

The programme was jointly developed by ITE, the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (Speta), and the Singapore Industrial Automation Association (SIAA).

It will allow companies to create digital solutions and experiment with smart equipment at the ITE's Digital and Advanced Manufacturing Living Labs, which showcase various improved front-end and back-end production technologies.

Workers can also take industry-relevant modules to help them upgrade their skills for roles in Industry 4.0.

Dr Koh said: "Under this initiative, ITE, together with commercial system integrators, will pool together technical solutions to help address the common yet critical technological adoption challenges that companies face.

"Companies can share their business problems and collaborate with ITE and the system integrators to find the technological solutions to address their needs.

"Through this initiative, companies can optimise their production facilities and transform their businesses processes in a shorter span of time."

This is especially vital to help companies take advantage of the new opportunities that technological advancements have created in the manufacturing sector, he said.

"The convergence of smart and sophisticated technologies such as automation, digitalisation and artificial intelligence has produced seismic changes to the manufacturing landscape," Dr Koh noted.

"To ensure that Singapore remains a key player in the manufacturing sector, companies and workers must keep abreast of these developments and adopt these technologies where relevant to stay in the game against our competitors."

Manufacturing contributes to more than 20 per cent of Singapore's economy and employs about 13 per cent of the workforce.

Dr Koh added that workers also need to embrace technology and use it effectively to propel their companies forward in the digital age.

"These Living Labs offer not just an avenue for companies to explore the technologies, but also provide a realistic shop floor environment for workers to train in."

Workers under the new programme can also sign up for courses by ITE for adult learners that will provide them with certificates of competency.

These modules cover a range of topics such as robotics, Internet of Things, cloud computing and cyber security.

The courses will be conducted on the ITE campuses.

President of SIAA Terence Teo said the programme is set to start next year and that 30 to 40 companies have indicated their interest in sending workers for training and courses.

His association has more than 500 members, while Speta has almost 400 members.

His target is for 60 to 70 companies to benefit from the training next year.

He also hopes that 10 companies will be able to start projects in the Living Labs under the new programme.

"We need to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to be ready for Industry 4.0."

"Companies can send their technicians and engineers for modules and get a bird's eye view of processes in the labs. They can also test proof of concepts with the teams at ITE," he said.

Speta chairman Low Ming Wah said the programme can help to address the gaps in the understanding of companies because Industry 4.0 is a new concept that they have not encountered before.

"There has to be a focus on training people and changing mindsets. These changes cannot happen overnight but we have to take it step by step."

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