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Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific 2018 Opens

The Asia Pacific leg of the Hannover Messe, Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific (ITAP) 2018, has officially kickstarted in Singapore. ITAP will run between 16 to 18 October 2018 at the Singapore EXPO.

With origins in Germany, Hannover Messe is the world’s largest industrial fair which attracts throngs of businesses, governments and industry experts. It is this spirit of collaboration which Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam underscored at the opening ceremony yesterday.

The Minister touched on two major points in his speech.

Looking Beyond the Manufacturing Sector

First, firms and workers should see Industry 4.0 as an opportunity rather than the harbinger of doom. Especially in Asia, opportunities for growth abound. In the manufacturing sector, the supply chain will be even more interconnected. The pool of suppliers, partners and customers may draw from will burgeon. Likewise, the interconnectivity will spur innovation and create new jobs.

Job displacement was recognised as a worry among workers. He said, “It is a challenge because, one way or another, if we succeed in improving speed and efficiency, there will not be as many jobs in manufacturing in the long term. There will be jobs, there will be much higher quality jobs, but they will not be as many.”

Instead, he suggested that jobs be created outside of the manufacturing sector. In Singapore, the manufacturing sector is both one of the largest drivers of economic growth and employers.

Looking Beyond Boundaries

Shifting gears, the Minister emphasised the value of collaboration between countries, industries and the private and public sectors.

In a three-part approach, the Minister highlighted three areas of collaboration to accelerate Industry 4.0’s transformation in the region.

Foremost, corporations should craft a framework which informs them of their present capabilities and state of readiness for Industry 4.0. Singapore’s own Smart Industry Readiness Index is an example of a diagnostic tool which assists corporations to evaluate themselves across three core areas of Technology, Process and Organisation.

In the works is the Index Partners Network. It unites financial institutions, technology and training providers and international organisations to address and support the various demands of manufacturers today.

The Singapore government is also collaborating with the Asian Productivity Organisation and the World Economic Forum to execute the Index in more locations around the region.

Secondly, developing a robust Industry 4.0 community is important. ITAP will provide the platform for manufacturers, technology providers and academic and training institutions to seek collaborative opportunities and buzz ideas.

The Minister highlighted three initiatives the Singapore government is working on currently. These include A*STAR’s work with pharmaceutical companies and universities to develop and enhance manufacturing technologies and processes for the sector. Enterprise Singapore and the Economic Development Board are in partnership with German Accelerator to design a Launchpad program for Singaporean startups. Startups will have the opportunity to co-innovate with German Mittlestand companies in areas like IoT, 3D printing and Smart Energy. In the same vein, JTC is strengthening tripartite relations between the public sector, businesses and technology enablers to improve the opportunities SMEs in JTC’s estates have. The partnership will help SMEs advance their manufacturing solutions and will undergo business unique training programs.

Rounding up, the Minister reiterated the sore spot for many workers in Industry 4.0 – helping workers to benefit from the transformations. Upskilling and reskilling programs are indispensable.

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