Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) on Friday (8 September 2017) launched its Tech Access initiative, which aims to provide local manufacturing companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to its research equipment and facilities.
With the initiative, local manufacturing companies can now access the newly-opened Industrial Additive Manufacturing Facility at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) to test which areas of their business or operations can be integrated with additive manufacturing technologies.
Besides that, A*STAR's Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) together with IAMF and ARTC will make available 19 different types of equipment for manufacturers, which range from inspection tolls to robotised 3D scanners and high-pressure cold sprays for additive manufacturing.
Companies will then be provided with training and technical advice sessions that will teach them how to operate the equipment.
"SMEs can experiment with these advanced tools without the need to make costly investments to acquire them upfront. Subsequently, with the experience gained and a better appreciation of the benefits of such tools, SMEs can opt to acquire the equipment to scale up and capture new business opportunities," said Dr. Koh Poh Koon, senior minister of state, Ministry of Trade & Industry and National Development.
Overall, the Tech Access initiative aims to help companies build capabilities for future of manufacturing (FoM) technologies, which include additive manufacturing, digitalisation, and automation.
"Our manufacturing sector has successfully gone through major shifts, from a labour-intensive sector in the 1960s to one that is innovation-driven and productive today. Moving forward, technological trends such as digitalisation, robotics and automation, and additive manufacturing are transforming not just shop floor operations and supply chains, but also business models," said Koh.
The Singapore government has allocated S$3.2 billion from 2016 to 2020 under its Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 to help companies develop technological capabilities in the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) domain.
Manufacturing is an important pillar of Singapore's economy, Koh underscored. In 2016, the manufacturing sector has contributed 20 percent in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the republic, and accounted for 14 percent of total employment.
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