The current state of the global economy is rough. The US-China trade does not look to be ending anytime soon and political quarrels haven led to face-offs between the world’s super economies. All the while, every other nation who are not directly involved are reeling from the aftershocks.

Some nations do stand to benefit from this economic downturn however. Developing economies are receiving an influx in jobs and investment due to companies leaving for lower production costs. Unfortunately, Singapore is not one of these places. The city-state is not exactly the cheapest of places to be moving one production to.

However, Singapore is looking to other methods to get around the poor economy. Singaporean companies are quickly adopting IR4.0 technology such as AI and automation. Manufacturing centres in Singapore or transforming their production lines into smart manufactories, increasing production, efficiency and jobs.

“The manufacturing sector has been facing strong headwinds lately due to the weakening global economic environment, coupled with some tightening of our domestic constraints,” said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, adding that this is not the time to slow down.

“We must press on with our transformation efforts in order to weather the storm and, more importantly, seize new opportunities when the dark clouds clear,” he added.

Last year, the manufacturing sector accounted for more than 20 per cent of Singapore’s GDP and about 13 per cent of the workforce.

A Boston Consulting Group study has estimated that the adoption of Industry 4.0 in Singapore could improve worker productivity by about 30 per cent, create 22,000 new jobs with better wages, and grow total manufacturing output by $36 billion by 2024.

An example of how smart manufacturing can help Singapore maintain itself in these troubled times can be seen in Fong’s Engineering and Manufacturing, a maker of high-end medical devices, who recently announced plans to shift their production towards full-fledged smart manufacturing within five years.

Advanced robotics, automated robots and IoT integration will allow for Fong’s to run its production round the clock with minimal human interaction. This makes Fong’s one of very few SMEs in Singapore with such capabilities, but by no means will they be the last. Singaporean SMEs have already recognised the value that such technology brings and are already making plans of their own for such transformations.


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