Business

New tool to help Singapore companies build 'smart factories'

A new set of guidelines has been launched to help manufacturers build smart factories of the future and take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution -also known as Industry 4.0.

The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), in partnership with German manufacturer TUV SUD, has launched the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index.

It serves as a diagnostic tool that companies across all industries and sizes can use to learn about Industry 4.0, evaluate the state of their facilities, and develop a transformation road map.

Industry 4.0 refers to the trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. This creates what has been called a "smart factory", where skilled staff work seamlessly alongside robots.

"The index gives clear orientation to manufacturers on what Industry 4.0 means and how they can initiate their transformation journey," said Dr Axel Stepken, TUV SUD's chairman of the board of management.

"It has the potential to be the global standard for the future of manufacturing."

The index provides an assessment matrix across 16 dimensions, which companies can use to evaluate their processes, systems and structures.

It also provides a step-by-step improvement guide.

The index has been piloted with a number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and multinational corporations in Singapore.

EDB assistant managing director Lim Kok Kiang said: "Many companies often put technology first. With this index, we put people and processes alongside technology so that companies can maximise the potential of Industry 4.0."

Many manufacturing companies, particularly SMEs, are still unfamiliar with Industry 4.0, said Mr Desmond Goh, director of food manufacturing company People Bee Hoon.

People Bee Hoon, which manufactures vermicelli and has about 40 staff members here, was among the companies that piloted the index.

Said Mr Goh: "The good thing ... is that it makes clear what the incremental steps are, which is helpful for smaller companies. When you are ready then you can move on to the next stage."

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