Poly opens advanced manufacturing centre

Third-year Temasek Polytechnic engineering student Muhammad Adeel shows how a trolley that can tow a load works. The idea is to build and design a trolley to tow, instead of lift, the load, for a project to improve the lifting ability of an automated
Third-year Temasek Polytechnic engineering student Muhammad Adeel shows how a trolley that can tow a load works. The idea is to build and design a trolley to tow, instead of lift, the load, for a project to improve the lifting ability of an automated guided vehicle from 250kg to 500kg. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Temasek Polytechnic (TP) has officially opened a fully functional advanced manufacturing centre to train and support a future-ready workforce.

The facility can manufacture six products from scratch, including a Wi-Fi smart switch, a thumb drive and a mechanical limit switch.

Its aim is to create a realistic environment so students can learn about smart factory floor operations and hopefully become interested in joining the manufacturing sector.

The centre, built at a cost of $7 million at TP's Tampines campus, will train about 2,500 full-time students and adult learners a year.

It features an artificial intelligence-enabled manufacturing line capable of high-mix, low-volume production. This refers to the process of producing a high variety of products in small quantities.

The centre, officially opened by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday, has a smart warehouse with an automated storage and order picking system.

A nerve centre can provide real-time analysis and optimisation using data analytics. It shows, for example, equipment statuses and can flag issues on the factory floor.

Mr Chan said the opening of the centre is a significant move, given the transformation of the manufacturing sector due to technology.

There will be similar centres across the island in different forms and fields, with a common goal of "building an ecosystem for students to learn about the technologies of today and tomorrow", he added.

TP principal and chief executive officer Peter Lam said: "We hope the training we give our young and adult learners, the projects developed here and the consultancy we provide... will lift the competitiveness as well as productivity of our industrial sectors."

The aim is to support firms in their advanced manufacturing journey while giving students better employment prospects, he added.

The polytechnic will partner key companies and trade associations to build talent and develop capabilities in advanced manufacturing.

It signed memorandums of understanding with partners including Omron Electronics, Fujitsu Singapore, the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association and Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association.

These partnerships will help to provide students with on-the-job training in an authentic advanced manufacturing environment.

Third-year TP engineering student Muhammad Adeel, 22, took part in a proof-of-concept project with Omron as part of a six-month internship at the advanced manufacturing centre.

Mr Adeel said Omron asked him to find a way to improve the lifting ability of an automated guided vehicle from 250kg to 500kg.

"So we built and designed a trolley to tow, instead of lift, the load."

He also helped to program the vehicle to move on its own around the factory floor.

"We have studied about automated guided vehicles. But it is the first time I'm doing the mapping, as opposed to just coding in class," he said.

He added that it has been a tough learning journey, during which he had to adapt to new software. "But at the end of the day, I'm very satisfied. This (internship) is a good programme to prepare myself for the real industry."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2021, with the headline Poly opens advanced manufacturing centre. Subscribe