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Singapore's Aerospace Industry Transformation Map focuses on operational excellence

Singapore’s Aerospace Industry Transformation Map focuses on operational excellence, innovation in emerging tech and skill development

The Singapore Government launched
its Aerospace Industry Transformation Map (ITM) today, aiming to achieve a manufacturing
value-added of S$4 billion and introduce 1,000 new jobs by 2020.

The aerospace industry is a key sector of growth for
Singapore economy, with an average annual growth of 7% in value-added over the
past 20 years. In 2016, the aerospace industry achieved a value-add of S$3.35
billion, and employed 21,000 people. Around 80% of these jobs are filled by
locals, and the majority are in high-skilled job roles.

The press release cites market forecast from Beijing that Asia-Pacific
is on its way to becoming the world’s largest aviation market, accounting for nearly
40% of the global fleet in 20 years. The strong growth in Asia-Pacific presents opportunities
across the value chain in manufacturing, MRO and aftermarket industry segments.

In addition, aerospace companies are leveraging digital and advanced
manufacturing technologies to transform their operations to improve productivity
and offer new solutions. New market segments such as unmanned aircraft systems
(UAS) are also emerging. These industry trends are expected to transform
existing aerospace jobs, and create new skilled job roles such as robotics engineers,
data scientists and additive manufacturing (3D printing) design engineers.

Singapore has continued to maintain its status as Asia
Pacific’s leading Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Hub, contributing to
10% of the global aerospace industry’s output for MRO. To further strengthen Singapore’s
MRO sector, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has concluded an
aviation maintenance agreement and an airworthiness certification agreement
with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation
Safety Agency (EASA) respectively. The two agreements are described as being
significant steps towards reducing regulatory burdens and compliance costs for
the aviation industry on both sides.

To further prepare Singapore to capture these growth
opportunities, the ITM has identified three key thrusts: pursuing operational
excellence, driving innovation in emerging technologies, and equipping
Singaporeans with relevant skills. To help implement these changes in the
industry, the government also aims to deepen ties with industry associations.

Enhancing productivity

In terms of operations and industry productivity, the
Government is encouraging companies to invest in new equipment and automation
to build best-in-class facilities, as well as deepen capabilities to drive
process improvement.

For instance, home-grown aerospace company, Singapore
Aerospace Manufacturing (SAM), is investing in
advanced automation equipment, as well as software and engineering capabilities
to upgrade existing lines to manufacture next-generation aircraft components.
It expects productivity gains of up to 30% through increased efficiency and
reliability of its manufacturing processes. SAM is also grooming a full-time
team to support and lead continuous improvement.

Companies are also exploring new technologies to enable them
to make better, data-driven decisions. ST Aerospace has embarked on a
digital and productivity transformation initiative known as Smart MRO. It
leverages data analytics to optimise internal processes and bring new value to
customers through solutions like customised predictive maintenance. ST
Aerospace will also adopt solutions such as drones for aircraft inspection and
additive manufacturing for spare parts, which could improve cost efficiency and
turnaround time.

Building Singapore’s
innovation capabilities

Singapore continues to invest in its public research
ecosystem. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) will be
supporting the innovation pillar in the Aerospace ITM.

Over the last decade, A*STAR’s Aerospace
Consortium
has brought together leading aerospace companies to collaborate
in more than 120 aerospace research projects. The programme has helped
Singapore build a foundation of aerospace-related R&D capabilities in areas
such as advanced materials, non-destructive inspection techniques, process
automation, avionics and wireless communications.

Moving forward, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and
A*STAR will encourage the development of industry-relevant technologies which
can be brought to commercialisation in the coming years.

Possible focus areas include industrial internet-of-things
(IIoT), additive manufacturing, data analytics for predictive maintenance and
asset optimisation
.

CAAS has been working closely with EDB to ensure robust and
responsive regulatory support. CAAS has maintained a facilitative regime to
nurture new industry segments whilst balancing the need to maintain safety
standards. For example, CAAS and SPRING intend to set up an
industry work group to develop technical standards for use of unmanned aerial
systems (UAS) in Singapore, responding to the rapid developments in this area.

Equipping
Singaporeans with Relevant Skills

The Skills Framework for Aerospace, jointly developed by
SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG),
Workforce Singapore (WSG) and EDB, with inputs from industry stakeholders,
unions, and education and training institutions, was also launched today.

 The Skills Framework
allows individuals to explore career growth opportunities along or across four
different tracks within the sector, covering 86 job roles. These tracks include
Aircraft Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance, Aircraft Engine/Component Maintenance,
and Manufacturing.

The Framework also provides key information on the sector,
including current and emerging skills and competencies, and the relevant
training programmes for each job role. 

Examples of the emerging skills and
competencies identified are Rapid Prototyping, Advanced Composite Failure
Analysis, and Data Mining Techniques for Manufacturing Excellence.

Moreover, Singapore’s Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs),
together with research institutes and private training providers such as
A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and TUM Asia, are collaborating with industry
to curate and deliver bite-sized industry-relevant modules in emerging areas
such as robotics, automation, data analytics and cyber security under the
SkillsFuture Series.

Temasek Polytechnic will also be rolling out two new
SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programmes (ELPs) in Robotics and
Automation and IIoT, which are contextualised to the needs of the aerospace
industry.

WSG has also put in place programmes such as the
Professional Conversion Programme (PCP),
which aims to equip mid-career PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and
Technicians) for new careers in growth industries. The four existing PCPs have
since benefited more than 60 mid-career PMETs. Two new PCPs for Aerospace
Officers and Aerospace Executives have been launched.

Deepening Ties with
Industry Associations and Unions

The Government will partner with Trade Associations and
Chambers (TACs) such as the Association of Aerospace Industries Singapore (AAIS) and Singapore Institute of Aerospace
Engineers (SIAE), as well as unions,
including those from the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster.

JTC
has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with AAIS, aerospace companies,
as well as the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) to collaborate
on a new series of aerospace student outreach initiatives that aims to develop
a pipeline of future-ready talent.

The initiatives are expected to benefit some 1,500 students
from the aerospace engineering courses annually. The first collaboration will
be the inaugural Aerospace Day @ SAP that will be held in April this year. This
collaboration will benefit final-year students from polytechnics and ITE, providing
them with the opportunity to visit the aerospace companies in SAP, exposing them
to the working environment, and the career opportunities available in the
industry.

[1] Roadmaps are
being developed for 23 industries to address issues within each industry and
deepen partnerships between Government, firms, industries, trade associations
and chambers. The ITMs are grouped into 6 broad cluster: Manufacturing, Built
environment, Trade & connectivity, Essential Domestic Services, Modern
services and Lifestyle. Most of the ITMs have been released.

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