Businesses here seeking to use cutting-edge technologies to improve their manufacturing processes and produce high-value products will continue to be nurtured, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said on Friday (Oct 29).
Speaking at a webinar organized by trade association SGTech and software firm Autodesk, he said many businesses had intensified their efforts to transition towards advanced manufacturing, adopt new technologies and upskill their workforce in order to overcome operational constraints amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the initiatives manufacturers have rolled out include cross-training existing workers to help them transition to different roles, doubling down on the digitalization of operations from warehousing to invoicing, and automating production lines to cope with fluctuations in demand.
These efforts have boosted the manufacturing sector's overall resilience and helped it deliver the strongest growth among all sectors last year. And it continues to deliver strong growth this year, he said.
However, he added: "We are not out of the woods yet and there are now new challenges like supply chain disruptions to deal with.
"As we move towards a post-COVID-19 future, Singapore remains committed to supporting advanced manufacturing through a pipeline of initiatives, be it physical infrastructure, talent or financial support."
Among the infrastructure initiatives, the minister highlighted the Jurong Innovation District - a one-stop hub where manufacturers can gather to share ideas, innovate and create by co-locating different parts of the manufacturing process within the same space.
Meanwhile, the industry-led Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy continues to facilitate the constant up-skilling and re-skilling of the workforce, equipping them with the ability to make the most out of Industry 4.0 tools and solutions.
Industry 4.0 refers to the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern and smart technologies.
The Government's financial commitment to advanced manufacturing is enshrined in the $25 billion Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan, Mr Gan said.
"Our hope is that these investments will advance the development and translation of frontier technologies for manufacturing such as artificial intelligence and high-performance computing.
"More importantly, staying committed to R&D and innovation will allow us to establish niches in the manufacturing value chain, strengthen Singapore's competitiveness and capture new growth opportunities."
Among industry-led initiatives, Minister Gan called attention to SGTech's Star (Stronger Together, Aiding Recovery) Fund, which was launched last year with support from Facebook and Enterprise Singapore to help businesses digitalize, while also enabling players in information and communications technology acquire new small- and medium-sized enterprise customers.
The fund has so far helped 48 projects leverage technology to transform and prepare for the post-COVID-19 economy.
"I am happy to share that applications to the Star fund are still open and I urge companies to tap on this opportunity to further their digitalization journey," the minister said.
Mr Gan also highlighted the upcoming Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific 2021 taking place next month (Nov 2021), an event which will feature more than 100 Industry 4.0 solutions providers from over 50 countries.
The event's Industry 4.0 Experiential Zone, digital sandboxes and one-on-one business matching will offer many opportunities for participants to connect, discover and showcase innovative and practical solutions.
"Initiatives like these bring us one step closer to our vision of Singapore becoming a global business, innovation and talent hub for advanced manufacturing," Mr Gan said.