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Ramping up Industry 4.0

At this year's ITAP, companies can find out how to optimise the appropriate technology and processes to achieve growth.

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The Learning Lab (above) holds live demonstrations of a range of autonomous solutions for use in warehousing, logistics and supply chain management.

ASIA-PACIFIC'S biggest Industry 4.0 event is set to open its doors for the second year running from Oct 22 to 24 at the Singapore Expo. Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP) 2019, the regional edition of the iconic Hannover Messe, brings together a multitude of actors and key stakeholders in the technological ecosystem to collaborate and deepen understanding of the future of manufacturing and the adoption of Industry 4.0 solutions.

Organised by Singex Exhibitions and Deustche Messe, this event is supported by government organisations such as the Economic Development Board (EDB), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), Enterprise Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board. Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat, will grace the opening ceremony on Oct 22 as guest of honour.

ITAP 2019 is structured around three industry issues and it offers various targeted platforms to address these concerns and ultimately drive large-scale adoption of Industry 4.0 solutions.

The first issue concerns the cost of implementing Industry 4.0 as a hard solution for companies to adopt. ITAP seeks to debunk the myth that it is expensive and time-consuming to design and implement Industry 4.0.

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The event also aims to allay fears about the Fourth Industrial Revolution being a threat to job security. Instead, it looks to cultivate awareness of the various skill sets that workers need to catch up on so as not to be left out in this journey to embrace industrial transformation.

ITAP will also help organisations ascertain their level of readiness for adopting these solutions by receiving step-by-step guidance tailored according to three categories: beginners, early adopters and trailblazers.

With about 350 exhibitors from over 30 countries this year, ITAP has organised various learning platforms that allow participants to address different pain points and sharpen their focus when adapting to Industry 4.0.

Attendees can expect to learn how to optimise the appropriate technology, processes and people to achieve business growth at ITAP this year, which takes a step forward from last year - moving from introducing the Fourth Industrial Revolution to implementing it.

Dr Jochen Köckler, CEO of Deutsche Messe, said that the manufacturing industry now is faced with different challenges, compared to a few years ago.

"For example, customers want individualised products and same-day delivery at lower prices. In order to meet such demands - and remain competitive in the global marketplace - companies need to embrace digitalisation. Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific brings together users and providers of all sizes to actively shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Singapore and the surrounding region," he said.

The event features off-site technical guided tours to showcase locations in Singapore that exemplify the adoption of industrial transformation. At the Expo, participants can attend informal "Sandbox" presentations discussing sector-specific insights. Fashioned as a "Learning Journey", attendees will be taken on a tour of Industry 4.0 applications. Part of the journey is the "Learning Lab", entailing a live demonstration showcasing advanced technological solutions.

Manufacturing firm SMC Corporation will display the integration of SMC Smart devices in Industry 4.0 Applications & SMC Products' Innovation & Technology in enabling Smart Factory Automation at ITAP 2019.

It aims to attract end-users, machine makers and system integrators from the semiconductor, electronic, food & beverage and pharmaceutical sectors to help them adopt Industry 4.0.

A new segment will make its entry this year. Titled "Collaboration Lab", solution providers and manufacturers, together with businesses, are given opportunities to brainstorm and actualise solutions that best fit the organisation's adoption capacities.

For Singapore and the Asia-Pacific region, there is a strong national interest in adapting to advancements in industrial and manufacturing changes. Businesses are keen to learn how to start becoming leading changemakers in their own industries, and ITAP provides the optimal launching pad for both beginners and current adopters alike.

Lim Kok Kiang, assistant managing director at EDB, said: "Asia holds tremendous growth potential, and Singapore is fortunate to be strategically located at the heart of the region. This allows companies based in Singapore to capture new opportunities to grow.

"Through Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific, we hope to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information between manufacturers, suppliers and solution providers, to help them form the right partnerships to drive their company transformation forward."

A*Star will be introducing its new technologies for personalised manufacturing at the event this year. Professor Tan Sze Wee, executive director of the research institute, said: "A*Star works closely with industry players through public-private partnerships to help them transform digitally by adopting Industry 4.0 technologies. ITAP is a good opportunity for such engagements."

Manufacturers in Singapore can also benefit from ITAP, says Enterprise Singapore, a government-backed agency that charts enterprise growth here.

Simon Lim, executive director for manufacturing and engineering at Enterprise Singapore, said: "With the emergence of I4.0, Enterprise Singapore is also working closely with Singapore manufacturers to take the necessary steps to adapt and implement solutions that can help their businesses become more efficient, increase capacity or meet new industry demands."

"To further support companies in their I4.0 journey, Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Standards Council and Singapore Manufacturing Federation-Standards Development Organisation developed the Standards for I4.0 tool, to guide companies in adopting the right standards," he added.

It is imperative that the adoption of Industry 4.0 is seen from the viewpoints of a host of eco-system partners when embarking on a vertical or horizontal adoption of products and services for a more holistic approach, said David Wong, managing director of SMC Corporation.

"It is important for SMC, a global company, to help embrace Industry 4.0 not just for the region but also globally as things are evolving rapidly against the backdrop of changes in expectations and preferences with Industry 4.0, where technologies are developing much faster than our understanding of them," he added.

Even though there are challenges in adopting Industry 4.0, it is more important to note that Asia-Pacific markets are warming up to ideas about it.

"Nonetheless, Industry 4.0 is highly relevant, and SMC envisions many opportunities worth exploring," Mr Wong said.