Precision engineering firm Makino's new smart facility able to nearly double machine production capacity

Makino Asia's chief executive officer and president Neo Eng Chong. The new smart facility launch marked the culmination of a digital transformation for the company that began in 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Precision engineering firm Makino Asia launched a $100 million smart facility on Thursday (April 11) 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, who was 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," Dr Koh added.

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.

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

Dr Koh drew attention to a customised course developed by Makino and Temasek Polytechnic last year that has trained more than 500 employees on Industry 4.0 and the company's transformation road map.

"Following the training, workers are better equipped for drawing data on operations and machine conditions from sensors, enabling them to plan and execute work flows more efficiently," he said.

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.

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