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Guidelines for smart factories launched as manufacturers gear up for Industry 4.0

A NEW set of guidelines has been launched to help manufacturers here 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 manufacturing firm TÜV SÜD, has launched the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index. The index 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 roadmap.

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 highly-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 Axel Stepken, the chairman of the board of management at TÜV SÜD.

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"Strongly aligned with Industry 4.0 and other global manufacturing initiatives, it has the potential to be the global standard for the future of manufacturing," he added.

The index was validated by an advisory panel of 21 academic and industry specialists. It has also been piloted with a number of small medium enterprises (SMEs) and multinational corporations in Singapore.

EDB assistant managing director Lim Kok Kiang said that the move is part of efforts to enhance the competitiveness of Singapore's manufacturing sector.

He added: "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 Desmond Goh, director of food manufacturing firm People Bee Hoon.

"This index is an intuitive and realistic reference framework which is useful for all industrial companies, both big and small, to not only learn these new concepts but also to apply them to our facilities," he added.

To help companies understand and use the index, EDB and TÜV SÜD will be conducting a series of four workshops which companies can register to attend for free.