CFE Identifies Advanced Manufacturing as a Growth Area to Boost Singapore’s Economy

January 25, 20178:31 am1504 views

The Committee on the Future Economy (CFE), that envisions strategies to position Singapore’s economy well for future opportunities, has identified Advanced Manufacturing as a possible growth area for Singapore.

Addressing the Additive Manufacturing (AM) Summit held on January 23, and launching the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) at the event, Mr. Loh Khum Yean, Permanent Secretary, Ministry Of Trade and Industry spoke about plans to ensure that the country’s manufacturing sector remains competitive.

The Government will invest in advanced manufacturing technologies, encourage public-private partnerships, and develop Singaporean workforce to step up to meet industry demands.

Mr. Loh Khum Yean said, “It is important to ensure that our manufacturing sector is able to harness advanced technologies like AM to raise productivity, create novel products and develop new business models.” The Government of Singapore is gearing up efforts to prepare its manufacturing sector for the future.

Additive Manufacturing has come a long way from a technology that was initially used for prototyping. According to Wohlers Associates, the AM industry grew by 25.9 percent between 2014 and 2015, to over US$5.1 billion.

AM is entering manufacturing operations that require short time-to-market builds, unique design requirements and low-volume production runs. The 2016 Gartner annual report predicts that by 2020, 75 percent of manufacturing operations worldwide will be using 3D-printed tools, jigs and fixtures to produce finished goods.

The manufacturing industry is a key pillar of Singapore’s economy. In 2015, it contributed about 20 percent of the country’s GDP and employed over 500,000 workers. The sector generates good jobs for Singaporeans, contributes significantly to productivity growth, and generates positive spillovers for the rest of the economy, including its services industries.

As regards talent development in the manufacturing sector, Khum Yean stresses on the need to equip Singaporean workforce with requisite skills to benefit from the new job roles created such as robot coordinators and industrial data scientists.

See: Manufacturing, Information and Communication Sector Worst Hit by Unemployment

In this line, the launch of Precision Engineering Skills Framework in October 2016, serves as a common reference guide for employers and employees in identifying key skills and competencies for different job roles. This helps Government’s efforts on providing reskilling opportunities for workers keen on pursuing a career in Advanced Manufacturing.

In February 2016, the then-Workforce Development Agency (WDA), in partnership with Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), the Centre of Optical and Laser Engineering (COLE), the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP), and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), launched a series of advanced manufacturing master classes, covering topics such as AM and advanced robotics.

There are also many Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) programmes in Precision Engineering, which are supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

Under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan (RIE 2020), the Government has set aside S$3.2 billion for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, to develop technological capabilities for its manufacturing and engineering sectors. This will include investing in crosscutting technologies such as AM, digital manufacturing, robotics and automation as well as advanced materials.

In September 2015, Minister for Industry, Iswaran announced the formation of NAMIC. This inaugural summit was another milestone in Singapore’s efforts to prepare its manufacturing sector for the future. Since its inception, NAMIC has actively engaged more than 380 companies and institutions, and supported several promising projects by our SMEs and start-ups.

NAMIC, which oversees NTU’s Singapore Centre for 3D Printing, NUS’s 3D Printing initiative for medical technologies, and SUTD’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Centre, plays an important role in forging public-private partnerships to translate AM research into commercial applications for industry.

Also a MoU was signed between the NAMIC and industry players to establish an AM user-group. The group will identify and address important market and regulatory topics to support the advancement of AM adoption in Singapore and the region.

“The Government of Singapore will continue to support its workforce in an effort to deepen skills, stay relevant to changing market needs, and ensure that the country is well-positioned for new job opportunities,” Mr. Loh Khum Yean concluded.

Also read: Dwindling Pool of Blue-Collar Workers Hurts Manufacturing Sector in China

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