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New lab to bolster Singapore’s Industry 4.0 capabilities

Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research teams up with local manufacturing software company to make Industry 4.0 capabilities more accessible to manufacturers

Singapore’s national research agency has formed a new lab with a local manufacturing software company to help manufacturers shore up their Industry 4.0 capabilities.

The S$18m lab, set up by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and Arcstone, will imbue the latter’s manufacturing execution systems with artificial intelligence (AI) and industrial internet of things (IIoT) capabilities.

This will enable manufacturers to optimise production processes, paving the way for more competitive and robust supply chains.

At the same time, the lab will look into optimising energy use while making Arcstone’s manufacturing execution systems easy to configure and use, lowering barriers for first-timers.

The joint lab will also help Arcstone grow, halving the time for research and development. Arcstone will also create about 30 engineering jobs over the next three years, bringing its total headcount from about 50 to 80.

Two A*Star units are involved in the lab: the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), which will contribute capabilities in advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies, and the Institute of High Performance Computing, which will contribute expertise in computational modelling, simulation and AI.

Arcstone works with companies from industries ranging from precision engineering to fast-moving consumer goods. It has been a member of the ARTC consortium since 2016 and has tripled its customer base and sales revenue since then.

“The challenging economic environment sends a reminder to many companies on the constant need for innovation to stay competitive,” said Alfred Huan, assistant chief executive at A*Star’s science and engineering research council.

“At A*Star, we collaborate with companies such as Arcstone to help them build new capabilities to move up the value chain. Such public-private partnerships continue to play an important role in encouraging businesses to adopt technologies to differentiate themselves from the competition.

“This collaboration with Arcstone is also an example of how local SMEs can deploy their new solutions to help other local SMEs speed up digital transformation in their factories, driving increased digitisation across the board.”

The new lab comes on the back of Singapore’s efforts to transform its manufacturing industry, which accounts for one-fifth of the country’s GDP and 500,000 jobs.

In 2019, Singtel teamed up with A*Star and JTC to deploy 5G at the ARTC. In 2018, HP and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University also set up a S$84m research lab aimed at advancing digital manufacturing technologies.

According to the World Economic Forum, Singapore, Japan and China are among the world’s top 25 countries well poised to gain from Industry 4.0 and other emerging technologies. A separate McKinsey study found that 96% of businesses in Southeast Asian countries believe Industry 4.0 will bring new business models to their industries.

Read more about industry 4.0 in Asia-Pacific

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