A*STAR’s SIMTech to Raise Productivity of Manufacturing SMEs through SPRING’s Collaborative Industry Project and Productivity Improvement Initiatives

Singapore, 3 October: Singapore’s SIMTech, a research institute of A*STAR initiated a Collaborative Industry Project (CIP) comprising four initiatives , with the support of SPRING Singapore, to offer manufacturing SMEs an integrated approach to boost productivity in the various phases of the manufacturing process.

-One CIP with four initiatives in the various manufacturing processes to help SMEs
-Productivity improvement initiatives with Institute of Technical Education, GS1 and ten technology partners
-35 Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology projects to boost productivity supported, with 18 successfully completed by companies

Singapore, 3 October 2013: The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) initiated a Collaborative Industry Project (CIP) comprising four initiatives , with the support of SPRING Singapore, to offer manufacturing SMEs an integrated approach to boost productivity in the various phases of the manufacturing process.

Collaborative Industry Projects (CIPs) were announced during Budget 2013 to incentivise the development of bottom-up, scalable solutions to address industry-specific productivity challenges. SMEs are encouraged to form partnerships comprising solution providers and at least three SMEs to develop and deploy these solutions. This CIP, led by the Manufacturing Productivity Technology Centre (MPTC), has 18 SMEs on board to date. This was announced at the MPTC Annual Conference and Technology Exhibition 2013 at SIMTech.

MPTC’s Collaborative Industry Project

MPTC’s CIP provides a cost effective R&D platform where groups of companies with similar issues work jointly with SIMTech to develop manpower and/or technology solutions. The four initiatives under this CIP are:

a) The High-Mix, Low-Volume (HMLV) initiative trains production planners on key planning concepts and implements a basic production planning and shop-floor tracking system to improve productivity and enable more effective production control and shop-floor management. HMLV is expected to yield more than 80% improvement in daily planning time, i.e. reduction from four hours to less than half an hour.

b) In the Lean Implementation initiative, local organisations are trained and guided to adopt lean techniques, such as Six Sigma, to reduce waste and improve productivity through creating high output using fewer resources. Improvement of between 10% and 50% is expected as wastes in the form of extra inventory, idle time, space and defects are reduced.

c) The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) initiative aims to increase productivity by improving machine utilisation, performance and quality with R&D and the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies developed by A*STAR’s SIMTech. Companies participating in OEE are expected to benefit from estimated reduced machine idle time of between 30% and 70%.

d) The Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) initiative assists companies to deploy RFID/barcode-based Item Management & Tracking System to better manage, track and audit their assets. Improvements in asset auditing and items tracking range from 30% to 80% are expected (Details in Annex B).

Mr Simon Lim, Group Director of Industry Development Group at SPRING Singapore, said, “Such Collaborative Industry Projects or CIPs help provide scalable solutions to the SME sector through a consortium arrangement. The integrated approach offered by the four initiatives under this CIP to boost productivity, will be beneficial to manufacturing SMEs. We are glad that MPTC has identified the challenges in the industries and also developed this suite of solutions to help in addressing them. We encourage SMEs to step forward to tap on this help.”

Productivity Improvement Initiatives

MPTC will be collaborating with 12 organisations and new partners to spearhead other productivity improvement initiatives to benefit the local industries. Among them are the Institute of Technical Education, GS1, various technology collaborators and government agencies. Enhanzcom and Singapore Communications (Wavex) will each sign a licence with Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd for SIMTech’s Unified Configurable Architecture (UCA) and RFID-based personnel tracking system respectively to support design and engineering collaboration in the precision engineering industry as well as to efficiently and accurately track workers’ access in underground tunnels for the construction industry, as required under Singapore’s workplace safety and health (confined space) regulation 2009 (Details in Annex C).

Dr Lim Ser Yong, SIMTech’s Executive Director, said: “To accelerate productivity improvement, strong partnership with institutes of higher learning, standards body, technology collaborators and government agencies is important. Each of these partners, such as ITE and GS1, contributes in their unique ways to develop innovative solutions and to reach out to more industries and companies jointly to adopt technology for productivity improvement.”

RFID Technology Adoption and Success Stories

In addition to the productivity initiatives, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology was introduced for adoption by industry through the Ministry of Trade and Industry 5-Year RFID Innovation Platform funding programme. The National RFID Centre (NRC), now part of MPTC, set up in 2006 to propagate RFID technology applications, is administering the funding programme and supported 35 industry projects. Of these, 18 RFID adoption projects has led to an average of 20% productivity gain in MNCs and SMEs from the manufacturing, aerospace, construction, marine, transport, healthcare and service sectors. The experiences and the knowledge of using RFID to improve productivity are documented in a publication, RFID for Productivity Improvement, to shorten the learning process and implementation by future adopters. This publication will be made available to industries such as Precision Engineering, Aerospace, Electronics, Food Manufacturing, Marine, Construction and Process, their respective associations and government agencies to proliferate Productivity Improvement through RFID technology adoption by industry. A list of some participating companies and their successfully completed RFID technology implementations are appended in Annex D.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, A*STAR
Ms Lee Swee Heng
for Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology
Tel: (65) 6793 8368
[email protected]

SPRING Singapore
Ms Audrey Lim
Senior Officer, Corporate Communications
Direct: 6279 3851
Mobile: 8118 2256
E-mail: [email protected]

Annex A
About the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public sector agency that fosters world-class scientific research and talent to drive economic growth and transform Singapore into a vibrant knowledge-based and innovation driven economy.
In line with its mission-oriented mandate, A*STAR spearheads research and development in fields that are essential to growing Singapore’s manufacturing sector and catalysing new growth industries. A*STAR supports these economic clusters by providing intellectual, human and industrial capital to its partners in industry.

A*STAR oversees 20 biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering research entities, located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis as well as their vicinity. These two R&D hubs house a bustling and diverse community of local and international research scientists and engineers from A*STAR’s research entities as well as a growing number of corporate laboratories.

For more information, please visit www.a-star.edu.sg

About the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology

The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) is a research institute of the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). SIMTech develops high value manufacturing technology and human capital to contribute to the competitiveness of the Singapore industry. It collaborates with multinational and local companies in the precision engineering, electronics, semiconductor, medical technology, aerospace, automotive, marine, logistics and other sectors.

For more information, please visit www.SIMTech.a-star.edu.sg

About Manufacturing Productivity Technology Centre (MPTC)

The MPTC is a one-stop resource centre for A*STAR enabling technologies, tools and capabilities in automation, processes and systems targeted at manufacturing enterprises. Through this initiative, MPTC spurs innovation and the adoption of the technologies by the manufacturing enterprises for productivity gains and enhanced competitiveness. Productivity can be enhanced by employing three measures, enhancing efficiency, ensuring effectiveness and by creating value through innovation
For more information, please visit www.SIMTech.a-star.edu.sg/mptc

About the SPRING Singapore

SPRING Singapore is an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry responsible for helping Singapore enterprises grow and building trust in Singapore products and services. As the enterprise development agency, SPRING works with partners to help enterprises in financing, capability and management development, technology and innovation, and access to markets. As the national standards and accreditation body, SPRING develops and promotes an internationally-recognised standards and quality assurance infrastructure. SPRING also oversees the safety of general consumer goods in Singapore.

For more information, please visit www.spring.gov.sg

Annex B

The MPTC Collaborative Industry Project

The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) initiated a Collaborative Industry Project (CIP) comprising four initiatives, with the support of SPRING Singapore, to offer manufacturing SMEs an integrated approach to boost productivity in the various phases of the manufacturing process. The four initiatives under this CIP are:

1) The High-Mix, Low-Volume (HMLV) initiative trains production planners on key planning concepts and implements a basic production planning and shop-floor tracking system to improve productivity and enable more effective production control and shop-floor management. HMLV is expected to yield more than 80% improvement in daily planning time, i.e. reduction from four hours to less than half an hour. Some of the participating SMEs are Smartec, and Techcom Technology. HMLV is an important aspect of manufacturing today as diverse parts are made in small batches due to greater customisation for high value-add components or products which require greater agility, productivity and resources visibility to maximise on existing resources.

2) In the Lean Implementation initiative, local organisations are trained and guided to adopt lean techniques, such as Six Sigma, to reduce waste and improve productivity through creating high output using fewer resources. Participating companies, such as Tranzplus Engineering and Wavelength Technology, can achieve outcomes faster and cultivate a lean culture. Improvement of between 10% and 50% is expected as wastes in the form of extra inventory, idle time, space and defects are reduced.

3) The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) initiative aims to increase productivity by improving machine utilisation, performance and quality with R&D and the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies developed by A*STAR’s SIMTech. Production staff is trained on overall equipment effectiveness assessment to pin-point key losses and to find ways to improve productivity through manufacturing procedural changes. CKE Manufacturing and Microcast, some of the participants in this initiative, are expected to benefit from estimated reduced machine idle time of between 30% and 70%.

4) The Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) initiative assists companies to deploy RFID/barcode-based Item Management & Tracking System to better manage, track and audit their assets. Presently, AIT Technologies, LHT Holdings, LSH Electrical Engineering and Tunity Technologies have joined the RFID initiative. Improvements in asset auditing and items tracking range from 30% to 80% are expected.


Annex C
Details of Signing Ceremony

MOU with ITE
Objectives
-To harness technologies to improve productivity for industries
-To provide authentic training for ITE staff and students to work on real-life projects and train a core team of ITE staff in productivity enhancement technologies
-To update ITE staff and students on the latest technology adoptions to improve operations and processes; and
-To support student development through industry projects and attachment.

MOU with GS1
Objectives
-Jointly promote public education in the form of conferences, seminars, workshops and training courses whenever possible
-- Develop best practice methodologies in supply chain efficiency
-Conduct research and development with the use of GS1 Standards and technology which can integrate standards into solution implementation
-Implement pilot projects on the use of GS1 Standards to improve supply chain work process and to gain productivity output
-Research and develop mass application for SMEs to adopt
- Explore possible projects or pilots using SIMTech Track & Trace EPCIS Platform for GS1 users
-Showcase successful case studies and projects using GS1 Standards and SIMTech’s technology to other potential users.

MOU with Technology Partners
Objectives
-To promote research and development collaborations activities in the areas of operation management automation and project management between SIMTech and specific technology partner.

Signing Ceremony
Details
Enhanzcom and Singapore Communications (Wavex) each signed a license with ETPL for SIMTech’s Unified Configurable Architecture (UCA) and RFID-based personnel tracking system respectively. SIMTech’s UCA, a system technology that enables the development of flexible and scalable on-demand solutions will allow Enhanzcom to support design and engineering collaboration in the precision engineering industry.

SIMTech’s development of RFID-based personnel tracking system is a result of the Productivity Improvement Project led by LTA and funded by BCA to develop an automated solution to track worker’s entry and exit from access points to confined space in construction sites, such as connecting tunnels. It has been successfully implemented at 10 construction sites for the Downtown Line Stage 2.
Annex D

RFID Technology Adoption and Success Stories

The NRC supported 35 industry projects. Of these, 18 RFID adoption projects by MNCs and mainly SMEs from the manufacturing, aerospace, construction, marine, transport, healthcare and service sectors which completed the RFID adoption projects benefit from an average productivity gain of 20%. Details of some success stories in the specific industry clusters are provided below:

Aerospace
Singapore Aero Engine Services (SAESL) applies RFID technology to automatically identify and track the location of tool trolleys in their sprawling 30,000 sq metres facility to reduce time and effort spent on manually searching for the trolleys, enabling real-time visibility and reducing service waiting time. SAESL is the leading service provider for the maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in the world that is capable of repairing all “in-service” variants of the Trent engine.

Construction
Transvert Scaffold & Engineering deploys RFID technology to automatically identify scaffolds and workers to enable real-time operational asset visibility and scaffold inspection status with improved operational efficiency. Total operational asset visibility is a critical management advantage for Transvert Scaffolds & Engineering, a scaffold specialist providing metal scaffold services and related engineering works to various industries in Singapore.

Consulting
Chio Lim Stone Forest (CLSF) needs a system capable of cataloguing client files and technical reference materials electronically so that users can perform queries of the file status and location from the system. This system enables the firm to track the movement of confidential files and institute a higher level of file security. CLSF is one of the leading and fastest-growing accounting and business advisory groups, offering assurance and tax service.

Healthcare
National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) looks for a way to automatically track the occupancy of treatment beds and chairs to create real-time visibility for schedulers, nurses, pharmacists and management staff leading to improvements in waiting time and optimisation of staff and resource utilisation. NCCS is one of the leading regional centres for cancer treatment and research. Its ambulatory treatment unit provides outpatient services and administers chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormonal therapy treatments for patients.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Central Sterile Supply Department/Theatre Sterile Supply Unit (CSSD/TSSU) requires a system to automatically identify and track surgical sets, from decontamination to distribution, within the hospital to improve efficiency and increase patient safety. In the manual labour-intensive method with limited traceability, healthcare staff encounters challenges in recalling the affected surgical sets and identifying the affected patients in the event of a potential infection outbreak. TTSH is one of Singapore’s largest multi-disciplinary hospitals with more than 160 years of pioneering medical care and development.

Industrial Laundry
Central Laundry (CL) deploys RFID technology to automate the counting and sorting of collected laundry that simplifies operation and ease the complexity of the laundry management system in place. The RFID tracking system reduces the time required for locating laundry and eliminates the need to perform unnecessary searches of laundry; simplifies monitoring the progress of washing, ironing and packing the laundry real-time. CL provides laundry and dry cleaning services for some of the best known hotels and service apartments in Singapore.

Laundry Network (LN) applies RFID technology to automatically identify, count and track individual uniforms and linens flowing between the various pick-up points and the central factory to improve efficiency and enhance customer service. LN is one of the leading laundry service providers offering total solutions for textile care management and services, ranging from hotel and commercial laundry management services to laundry facility planning and design.

Logistics
Kim Hiap Lee (KHL) implements RFID technology to achieve good asset management in a multi-industry supply chain setup. Good asset management requires accurate and timely data being recorded and made accessible for immediate tracking of the goods traffic, eliminating the need for manual counting and data entry. KHL, a subsidiary company of LHT Holdings, is in the pallet leasing business.

Semiconductor
GLOBALFOUNDRIES needs a system in place to track the washing cycle of the cleanroom garments and to provide real-time information on the manpower count in the cleanroom to improve stock control and particle contamination in the cleanroom as well as to allow supervisors to manage the adequate level of staff in the production line in the cleanroom. GLOBALFOUNDRIES is the world’s first full-service semiconductor foundry with a global footprint. With manufacturing centres in Germany, the United States and Singapore, the company provides customers with a full range of process technologies, from mainstream to the cutting edge.

Siltronic adopts RFID technology to track the location of cassettes and boxes placed on storage shelves that improves operational efficiency, productivity and resource utilisation. Significant wafer throughput and cycle time improvements directly translate to enhanced on-time delivery. Siltronics is a global leader for hyperpure silicon wafers and a partner to many top-tier chip manufacturers.

Marine
Alpine Engineering Services applies the RFID technology to automatically track and monitor daily workers in real-time on board and leaving the ship’s gangways and within confined spaces to provide real-time insight into the operations and situation awareness of workers’ safety. The new capability permits alerting of unauthorised entry into restricted areas, overstaying in the area and excessive number of workers being allowed in a confined space. Alpine Engineering Services provides key marine-related skilled labour services.

Prime SteelKit replaces its existing manual activities with a more efficient, cost-effective, transparent, and productive RFID-based system to store, track, and handle its raw materials; update in real-time its remnant plates for reuse and optimise remnant usage that impacts on its bottom line. The system reduces material handling time, improve remnant usage and scrap generation. Prime SteelKit specialises in CNC cutting, cold pressing and other steel processing services for the marine and offshore industry.

Security
Evtec Management Services requires a mobile real-time reporting and verification solution based on RFID technology to enable the remote transmission and viewing of the collected information. Previously, control can only be exercised at the end of a patrol tour when data from the electronic data collector is downloaded and sorted resulting in information lags that decrease the operational efficiency and delays any necessary corrective actions. With real-time monitoring capability, the security team managers are able to keep track of their various deployments effectively. Evtec Management Services is one of the pioneering companies in the security industry providing services and technologies to secure asset properties.

Published: 03 Oct 2013

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