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Semicon, pharma manufacturers lead in Industry 4.0 readiness: EDB study

WITHIN Singapore's manufacturing sector, semiconductor and pharmaceutical firms lead the way in adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, based on a Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) study of 200 firms that have undergone Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI) assessment.

In sharing this report on the sector's current state of transformation, the aim is to "kick-start the sharing of best practices and industry-level insights", Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat said at the opening ceremony of the Industry 4.0 event, Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP), on Tuesday. The SIRI Manufacturing Transformation Insights Report 2019 was released at ITAP on Tuesday afternoon.

SIRI was introduced in November 2017, with the EDB announcing in March 2018 that it would fund SIRI assessments for 300 firms. The report analyses data from 200 such funded assessments, across 12 manufacturing industries and ranging from small and medium enterprises to multinationals, serving as a stock-take of Singapore's current state of manufacturing transformation.

"With this information, manufacturers, governments, technology providers and stakeholders driving industrial transformation will have the necessary knowledge to develop the appropriate interventions and catalyse the transformation of the manufacturing sector," said EDB managing director Chng Kai Fong.

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The pharmaceuticals sector was found to have a high and uniform level of smart industry maturity, along with the medical technology and electronics sectors. While the semiconductor industry also ranked high overall on maturity, the pace of transformation within the sector was more varied.

Ranking lowest for smart industry readiness were industries such as general manufacturing, marine and offshore engineering, and food and beverage.

The index assesses firms on 16 indicators. Nine fall under the area of technology: automation, connectivity and intelligence at each of the shop floor, enterprise and facility levels.

There are also three "process" indicators, including vertical integration of operations and horizontal integration of supply chain, and four "organisation" indicators, including workforce learning and development, and inter and intra-company collaboration.

The report shows how the top 10 per cent, middle 80 per cent, and bottom 10 per cent of firms scored on each indicator, allowing firms to benchmark themselves. The report is available at https://www.edb.gov.sg/SIRI

It reveals that in the area of technology, the biggest divide between top and bottom performers is in connectivity rather than automation or intelligence.

However, firms should not neglect connectivity, said the report: " A highly connected factory, where all assets (machines, products, materials, labour and peripherals) are linked via a common network, will not only enable more extensive and effective machine-to-machine and human-to-machine communications, but also enable firms to better leverage data to generate new insights and facilitate more real-time decision making."

The report also includes case studies such as that of the Biopharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Advisory Committee, a public-private platform whose members consolidated their SIRI scores and identified common problem statements and priority areas to work on together.