Speech by Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister for Trade and Industry, at Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific 2019 Networking Event

Industry partners,

Trade association leaders,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. A very good afternoon. It is a great pleasure to join you today.

Singapore is well-positioned for the future of manufacturing

  1. Manufacturing is a key pillar of Singapore’s economy, contributing 20 percent of GDP and providing 13 percent of total employment in 2018. Despite recent challenging global economic conditions, there are still bright spots amongst our manufacturing sectors. In particular, biomedical manufacturing output has grown 10.6 percent year-on-year as of September 2019.

  2. With the rise of Industry 4.0 and technologies like Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) and additive manufacturing, the sector continues to offer exciting opportunities for companies and workers. Singapore is starting from a position of strength to capture these opportunities. Our extensive R&D and innovation ecosystem is complemented by a skilled workforce. On the infrastructure front, Jurong Innovation District is fast gaining traction as a one-stop advanced manufacturing campus that clusters researchers, technology and training providers, as well as Factories of the Future.

Company-centric approach to accelerate transformation

  1. The Singapore Government is committed to continuing our partnership with companies and workers to ensure we are equipped with capabilities to fully reap advanced manufacturing opportunities as they arise. For example, S$3.2 billion has been invested towards developing companies’ Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) capabilities under the Research, Innovation, and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan. In ensuring that our workers also upskill in the process, training support is available in areas such as additive manufacturing as well as robotics and automation.

  2. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy in helping our companies develop advanced manufacturing capabilities – just across JTC’s industrial estates, we have 14,000 companies at different levels of Industry 4.0 readiness.

  3. Let me share an example. Tai Sin Electric, a local SME that does cable manufacturing, faced challenges in raising their productivity. They subsequently participated in the Economic Development Board’s Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI) assessment, which identified areas of improvement such as connectivity across their shop floor and workforce development and readiness. To address these issues, Tai Sin joined the Workforce Singapore-McKinsey Industry 4.0 Transformation & Job Redesign programme. In line with the job redesign, eight Tai Sin employees were also reskilled to enhance their understanding and application of the company’s overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) data.

  4. I am happy to learn that Tai Sin has since upskilled a third of its workforce and achieved 35 percent improvement in workforce productivity. Through the implementation of a new Digital Performance Engine (DPE) that provides real-time analysis of the overall shop floor performance, they were able to identify bottlenecks and redesign their process to resolve and minimise machine downtime. Encouraged by the results, Tai Sin is now working closely with Enterprise Singapore to further automate their factories.

Working together to capture Industry 4.0 opportunities

  1. To successfully capture Industry 4.0 opportunities, we need to go beyond the Government’s or individual company’s efforts. We must work as one community to help each other improve and stay ahead of the curve. Last year, JTC started an Industry 4.0 network that brings together researchers, technology and training providers, trade associations and government agencies to support companies across our industrial estates on their I4.0 journey. 300 companies have since been introduced to the network.

  2. Other efforts to pull the community together include the Digital Ecosystem of Model Factories Initiative, which is being launched today by A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and SPETA. This initiative aims to digitally connect the smart factories of participating organisations so companies across industries can learn Industry 4.0 best practices from each other. This includes A*STAR’s own Model Factory @ SIMTech, and the Model Factory @ Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (Model Factory @ ARTC). Thirteen organisations – including MNCs, local companies and IHLs – will be signing memoranda of understanding with SIMTech and SPETA today to join this initiative. Given that the approach to manufacturing often differs from industry to industry, this platform will allow companies to discover new approaches to digital manufacturing and explore how they might be applied to their respective manufacturing environments to achieve higher productivity. It also encourages SMEs and MNCs to work together and learn from each other.

  3. Many SMEs are also working with Enterprise Singapore to look at different ways to upgrade their capabilities, including taking small steps as a start, for their I4.0 journey. Once our companies have built up the requisite capabilities, they can then venture overseas to seize new market opportunities. In particular, we encourage our companies to band together to leverage each other’s strengths and provide a complete suite of solutions to collectively capture a bigger share of the value chain. Last year, local SME ASTech (“As Tech”) brought together 8 local enterprises and 12 MNCs to form the SMART i4.0 Transformation Alliance (SiTA). Since then, SiTA has secured eight projects through ITAP 2018, and is currently implementing a complete solution for a key customer to implement its “Factory of the Future”. 

  4. This year, Enterprise Singapore has brought together 21 companies to form three more Singapore SME-led consortia, namely iSMART, iSAMS and the Singapore Life Science Consortium. iSMART seeks to be a one-stop shop for precision machining smart solutions, whereas iSAMS caters to the precision engineering sector in Southeast Asia, offering smart solutions with training and research development. Together with industry associations such as SPETA, Enterprise Singapore will work with iSMART and iSAMS to capture I4.0 opportunities in Southeast Asia. The Singapore Life Science Consortium focuses on providing full turnkey services, from component manufacturing to box-build assembly, for the analytical instrument market. It will work with Enterprise Singapore to explore more business opportunities in the United States and Europe.


  1. The future of manufacturing with Industry 4.0 is an exciting one. By working together, I am confident that we can accelerate the business transformation and level up our competitiveness to harness new opportunities in Singapore and the region. I look forward to seeing more of such collaborations to grow the advanced manufacturing sector in Singapore.

  2. Thank you.