This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.
We are on the cusp of Industry 4.0, in other words, the fourth Industrial Revolution. Over the next decade, Industry 4.0 will emerge to meet demand for tailor made products at affordable prices - from mobile phones to cars and from household goods to sheet metal fabrication. At the same time it will give manufacturers access to highly flexible mass production processes that can be rapidly adapted to market changes.
Whilst Industry 4.0 no doubt offers manufacturers an opportunity to innovate, regional competition and domestic restricting have put the sector under considerable pressure in Singapore. Despite accounting for one fifth of Singapore's GDP and more than 400,000 jobs, the local manufacturing sector faces high labour costs, stagnant productivity and an ageing workforce in a slowing global economy. Manufacturing activity shrank for the twelfth straight month in June, following a decline in new orders and production output. This gloomy outlook is set to continue, according to the latest business expectations survey by the Economic Development Board (EDB). The survey found that 77% of manufacturing firms are not expecting change in lacklustre business conditions for the second half of 2016.
However, Singapore's strong manufacturing base has enabled firms to incorporate more high-value manufacturing-related services into their business models. This includes knowledge-intensive activities such as research and development, technological innovation and product design. Additionally, given the need to be competitive in global markets, the government has made a greater push to upgrade Singapore's manufacturing capabilities to enhance the vibrancy of the ecosystem. In line with the trend towards related high-value services, manufacturers need to begin assessing whether their current systems are compatible with the future of the industry.
Here is where we look forward to Industry 4.0 and the opportunities for innovation it provides manufacturers in the region with. . There's no doubt that Industry 4.0 will have an impact on the manufacturing industry - 59 per cent of manufacturers even agree that this fourth Industrial Revolution will have a significant impact on the sector. Yet, according to a recent study, 48 per cent of Asian manufacturers find the lack of digital culture and training a crucial challenge when embracing Industry 4.0.
New connections between machines, production processes and systems
Industry 4.0 calls for a future of agile and affordable manufacturing fuelled by technology enablers such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, cloud computing, mobile devices and big data. This will marry the world of production and networking in a connected environment. Therein enterprise resource planning (ERP) will become increasingly central to production. The ERP system will become the backbone of the network; connecting smart machines, logistics systems, production facilities, sensors and devices as products and machines communicate with each other and exchange commands as products move the production line.
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