CXO In Conversation: The Role of Technology in the Future of Manufacturing  


The manufacturing sector is a top contributor of Singapore’s economy and the Singapore Government’s “Manufacturing 2030” plan is to grow the industry by 50% in the next 10 years.  

According to the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Gan Kim Yong, in order for Singapore to become a global business innovation and talent hub for advanced manufacturing, we need to accelerate digitalisation and automation as part of the new industrial revolution, “Industry 4.0”. 

SGTech was honoured to have Minister Gan at our CXO In Conversation: The Role of Technology in the Future of Manufacturing Sector. We were also pleased to have the following industry speakers contribute their points of view on how the industry can work together to strengthen companies’ capability to compete internationally: 

  • Mr Tan Ru-Ding, Director, Delphic Manufacturing Solution Pte Ltd 
  • Mr Terence Teo, President, Singapore Industrial Automation Association 
  • Mr Douglas Foo, Chair, Sakae Holdings Ltd 
  • Mr Steven Koh, Executive Director, Singapore Precision Engineering & Technology Association
  • Ms Serene Sia, Councillor, SGTech 

Watch the recording to view the full discussion.  

This article captures the key insights from the discussion among the industry leaders on how companies can leverage technology and skilled talent to develop a strong manufacturing ecosystem and move towards greater sustainability in manufacturing.   

The Role of Technology in Smart Manufacturing  

Digital transformation is crucial for manufacturers to stay ahead in global markets. With the economic slowdown due to the pandemic and the resulting supply chain crisis, businesses need greater technological innovation to maintain a competitive advantage. 

“To remain in the global manufacturing ecosystem,” shared Mr Douglas Foo, President of SMF, “you need smart manufacturing and technologies to build a differential type of business model and create a unique space for yourself.” 

Mr Terence Teo, President of SIAA, notes how manufacturers have integrated various new technologies including 3D engineering tools, machine learning, augmented reality, big data analysis and cloud computing to streamline their operational processes. 

Despite the clear benefits of digitalisation, adopting technology and digital tools remains a challenge for many businesses. Apart from infrastructural limitations, people and processes often remain key barriers. A mindset shift and improving digital literacy, especially amongst top management, will contribute towards a better understanding of how technology can be effectively used. 

To overcome these challenges, the government works closely with Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) such as SGTech to support businesses’ digital transition.  

In his speech, Mr Gan highlights the “Stronger Together, Aiding Recovery” (STAR) fund, launched by SGTech, with support from Meta and Enterprise Singapore (ESG), to help businesses on-board technology to transform and prepare for the post-COVID economy.  

Moving Towards Greater Sustainability in Manufacturing  

“Globally, manufacturing contributes to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions,” noted Ms Serene Sia, SGTech Councillor and Managing Director, ASEAN at Autodesk. “Sustainability cannot be a footnote for the manufacturing sector. Integrating it as part of the overall business strategy helps companies save cost, reduce wastage, and improve efficiency.”  

Sustainable practices are essential to achieving positive business outcomes and long-term value. Mr Steven Koh, Executive Director of Singapore Precision Engineering & Technology Association (SPETA), concurred, “When it comes to waste management, pollution control and energy conservation, these are often regarded as good to have, but, in fact, are a need to have.”

Technological development is paving the way towards more eco-conscious practices. Increasingly advanced tools such as IoT sensors to monitor carbon emissions, or AI with high image resolution cameras performing quality assessments, help to give an improved overview of the supply chain thus leading to higher efficiencies.  

Companies can realise their sustainability goals through innovative and intelligent solutions that are key to the future of manufacturing.  

Filling The Gap in Skilled Talent  

The panellists also noted the shortage of skilled workers is on the rise with 75% of jobs in the local manufacturing sector unfilled last year.  

Mr Foo stressed the importance of grooming future talent for the survival of Singapore’s manufacturing sector. He described educational initiatives launched by the SMF to spark an interest in manufacturing amongst the younger generation and help them nurture relevant industry skills.  

Investment in workforce training and talent development is also important in tackling labour deficiencies. Singapore Polytechnic’s Company and Workforce Transformation (CWT) program helps companies looking to grow a skilled workforce and increase occupational mobility. 

Develop a Thriving Manufacturing Ecosystem 

Collaboration is key to building global resilience. In the global race towards digital transformation, building up Singapore’s manufacturing ecosystem by leveraging technology will lead to the sector’s healthy growth and success.  

Mr Gan stressed the importance of active collaboration with industry TACs to encourage a culture of peer learning and help companies along their transformation journey. 

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Published Apr 2022