Manufacturing, which contributes to about 20 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product and 14 per cent of total employment, is being impacted by the rapid advancement of new technologies, as well as changes in global supply chains and consumer demands.
To remain relevant in the highly globalised and competitive sector, Singapore manufacturers must make the effort to understand new technologies, such as digital twinning, robotics and cloud computing, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Speaking at the biennial Singapore Manufacturing Federation Awards event yesterday, Mr Heng said the industry should prepare to adopt and integrate new technologies into business processes as the "digitalisation of manufacturing - which some refer to as Industry 4.0 - is transforming the sector".
Giving examples, he said that with digital twinning technology, manufacturers can create a digital profile of a product idea, which can then be tested and tweaked without needing a physical prototype.
"Data from both the virtual and physical versions can be used to further optimise the product. This means companies can make better products, have faster innovation cycles and reduce production costs," he added.
Mr Heng called on top management to actively seek opportunities, overcome obstacles and bring their teams together, and the workforce to similarly "be ready to adapt to these changes, acquire new skills, and be redeployed to higher-value tasks".
The Singapore Manufacturing Federation has been actively supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) transform digitally, said its president Douglas Foo. In May, it became the first trade association and chamber to be appointed to operationalise and implement a government programme called "SMEs Go Digital Project Management Services".
"Since then, we have been working with the Infocomm Media Development Authority to help SMEs that want to go digital but do not have the scale to digitalise," added Mr Foo.
Seventeen companies were recognised at the event yesterday for their innovative, collaborative and sustainable efforts, on a night that also marked the industry body's 86th anniversary.
Robotics and automation company PBA Systems won an award after adopting a new business model to provide robotic solutions to manufacturing companies after realising its trading business model "may not work in the decades to come".