Chan: Go for low volume, high quality
Minister says that by producing high quality and highly customised products, Singapore can compete against countries that mass-produce
How does a tiny country like Singapore compete for business against bigger countries not held ransom by price or size constraints?
The answer, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, is by producing low volume but high quality and highly customised products, competing in a different space from nations that churn out mass-produced goods.
Thanks to today's technological advances, Singapore has the opportunity to transcend its land size and labour restrictions, said Mr Chan yesterday at a panel discussing the opportunities Industry 4.0 can bring to the region.
Also on the panel were Indonesia's Minister of Industry Airlangga Hartarto, ST Engineering president and chief executive Vincent Chong and German sensor manufacturing firm Pepperl + Fuchs chief executive Gunther Kegel.
Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is the current era of industrial change marked by the arrival of the Internet and other smart technologies, such as robots, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, in the workplace.
Previous industrial revolutions were sparked by technological advances such as the invention of computers and the use of machines to replace manual labour in factories.
While Singapore is an advanced country and possesses an advantage over many others, Mr Chan warned that it should never be complacent.
This is because advanced countries face greater challenges in wanting to transform and are more vulnerable to disruption, he said, referencing the innovator's dilemma, a paradox made popular by prominent American businessman Clayton Christensen.
"If you don't change fast enough, other countries will overtake you with a (new) development that will adopt some of the latest technologies. And then you will find, when you look back in 20 years' time, that it may not be advanced countries that are still at the forefront," he said.
TRAINING FOR MANAGEMENT
He said when many companies refer to training programmes, they refer to the training of workers instead of the middle and upper management in the company.
Dr Kegel agreed there was a need for higher management to upskill too but added that much more sophisticated training is needed to alter mindsets at that level. "It is a very painful exercise because moving people out of their comfort zones and forcing them to rethink what they have done professionally over the last 20-odd years is truly a challenge," he said.
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