• Green Denmark in Southeast Asia

Refreshing Singapore’s Industry Transformation Maps – where do robotics fit in?

Singapore, a developed nation, sees great potential in the use of robots for functions and processes that can be automated to enhanced business outcomes, while overcoming labour challenges.


Overview of Singapore's Robot Installations

Similar to many developed nations, Singapore faces the challenge of an aging population (by 2035, it is estimated that around a third of Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above) and declining birth rates (1.15 children per woman – one of the lowest in the world). The population is not replacing its attrition numbers fast enough. A more well-educated population also mean a smaller pool of workforce for production and laborious jobs. Yet, interesting, manufacturing is a big part of Singapore’s economy as it contributes around a fifth of Singapore’s GDP. Some interesting facts about the robotics industry in Singapore:

  • In 2021, Singapore was named second most automated country. The robot density in Singapore was 605 per 10,000 employees, second only to South Korea’s 932. Denmark was ranked 10th at 246.

  • In 2020, Singapore was ranked the fifth largest Asian robot market with 5,297 units (132%) installed. This is four times as many robots for the year 2019.

  • According to the International Federation of Robotics, robot installations in Singapore depended to a large extent, on the electronics industry. The electronics industry is one of the contributing industries to Singapore’s growth, investments and exports.[1],[2]

Opportunities for Robotics

In a Danish-Singaporean webinar this year, co-hosted by Danish Embassy in Singapore, the speakers emphasised similarities between both countries in terms of demographics, challenges and economy. In Prof Quek Tong Boon’s keynote address, Chief Scientific Advisor of National Robotics Programme, he cited gaps in the local market where robotics are currently deployed to enhance work processes and productivity:


1. Health care service,

2. Environmental service and

3. Construction.


Prof Quek emphasised that robotics applications are less mature in the above service sectors compared to the manufacturing sector. Regardless, there is room for partnerships and collaborations between Danish and Singaporean robotics solutions providers.Singapore will continue to grow its manufacturing sector by 50% from 2021 to 2030. To achieve this, the manufacturing sector will have to further develop its competitiveness through its ability to innovate quickly and produce high-value products.


To do so, Singapore will continue to attract global companies to set-up in Singapore for advanced manufacturing activities to reduce supply chain disruptions. Meanwhile, there are initiatives to grow and drive local enterprises in advanced manufacturing to create job opportunities for the local workforce, through Global Innovation Hubs.


The Singaporean government has been ramping up training and education in the faculty of robotics, engineering and programming. The local government is working with industries to identify talent gaps and map training and education needs required to support key industries. There are efforts at academic levels to position engineering vocations as attractive to draw entrants into the engineering sector so that there are sufficient talents to support Singapore’s key industries.[3]


There are on-going engagements with industry associations and government agencies to identify work processes that can be better performed by robots. Here are potential market opportunities for Danish companies which are:


a) Commercially available and export ready:

  • Have worked with any of the above 23 industries and successfully implemented robotic solutions and installations in work processes to increase productivity as well as address labour challenges.

  • Experienced in cobots.

  • Is ready to explore an export market in Asia-Singapore.

b) At research and development stage:

  • Would like to identify complimentary robot solutions partners for further product development.

  • Has innovative robotic solutions and is seeking to raise funds to further product development.

c) An academic institution

  • Would like to identify Singapore academic institutions to partner with for collaborations

  • Has ready training programmes that are suited for students for class enrichment programmes as well as adult learning.


Refreshing the Industry Transformation Maps - Singapore

The Singaporean government is currently refreshing its Industry Transformation Maps for the 23 industries that are important contributors to Singapore’s economy. These 23 industries fall into seven clusters. While this is work-in-progress till 2025, some key industries have charted the road to help Singapore, post-pandemic.[4], [5]

Clusters

Industry

Robotics Application (some examples)

Advanced Manufacturing and Trade

Aerospace, Electronics, Energy and Chemicals, Food. Manufacturing, Logistics, Marine and Offshore, Precision Engineering and Wholesale Trade ITMs.

Robotics at production lines

Unmanned automated vehicle for in-house transportation and warehousing


Cleaning and inspection of ships (Remotely Operated Vehicles).

Connectivity

Air Transport, Land Transport and Sea Transport ITMs.

Unmanned automated vehicle for logistics application.


Autonomous transportation of goods pallets.

Human Health and Potential

Education and Healthcare ITMs.

Unmanned autonomous vehicle for delivery of food trolleys from central kitchen to patient wards, point-to-point secure delivery of human specimen and documents.


Patient rehabilitation.


Shelf-reading robots that can scan labels on 100.000 books (30% of collection).

Urban Systems

Construction, Environmental Services, Real Estate and Security ITMs.

Robots for site surveys.


Cleaning, inspection, disinfection robots (water and land).


Smart crane project: Lifting and installation of pre-fabricated components.


Four-legged robot for scanning of mud and gravel to check work progress, with data feedback.

Resource and Environmental Sustainability

A new Cluster which is being further developed.

Under development.

Modern Services

Financial Services, ICT and Media, and Professional Services ITMs.

IT solutions, data analysis.

Lifestyle

Food Services, Hotels, and Retail ITMs.

​Work processes in kitchen.


Beverage stations.


Delivery of food orders from kitchen to dining floor, hotel rooms and at tourist attractions.

While the ITMS are being refreshed and will be completed by 2025, industries like health care service, environmental service and construction have deployed robotics and automation years ago, in anticipation of a shrinking but more educated work force that prefers work in other more attractive industries.


Meanwhile, the demand for safer work processes while achieving productivity goals is a pressing agenda at work places and businesses are looking at how to best use robots to perform high-risks functions.


Making Research and Development Relevant to Key Industries

To better address the needs of businesses and community, translate research and development into practical business solutions and products, the Singaporean government has set up a Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan (RIE2025).


Under RIE2025, a sum of DKK 118 billion has been allocated from 2021 – 2025 to fulfil the plan’s goals. Twenty percent of this budget is to help establish more Innovation and Enterprise platforms, strengthen and develop them. There is room to scale up tech translation platforms to enhance economic value-capture. The four RIE 2025 domains are:

  1. Manufacturing, trade & connectivity

  2. Human health and potential

  3. Urban solutions and sustainability

  4. Smart nation and digital economy

One key criteria in order to be eligible for RIE 2025 funding is that an applicant (organisations, local research institutions) should be based in Singapore. Some examples of practical translation from research and development in Singapore:

  • Public research institutions’ continuous efforts to deepen their expertise in the manufacturing, trade and connectivity domain to support the electronics sector in capturing new growth opportunities, such as autonomous vehicles and wearables.

  • A*STAR’s programme for Accelerated Materials Development for Manufacturing that will leverage digital technologies such as machine learning, artificial learning, robotics and automation to accelerate pace of materials innovation for multiple industry applications.

  • On-going research and development to deepen automation and digitalisation in aviation and maritime sectors.

  • The National Addictive Manufacturing and Innovation Cluster’s test-bedding and commercialisation of Addictive Manufacturing Platforms, including solutions incorporating robots and AI. [6]


Funding for Private Sector - Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)

The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports companies keen on adopting IT solutions and equipment to enhance business processes. For a start, PSG covers sector-specific solutions including the retail, food, logistics, precision engineering, construction and landscaping industries. The list of approved sector specific solutions can be viewed at https://www.gobusiness.gov.sg/productivity-solutions-grant/all-psg-solutions/.


Other than sector-specific solutions, PSG also supports adoption of solutions that cut across industries, such as in areas of customer management, data analytics, financial management and inventory tracking.


Funding is based on reimbursement, at 70%, capped at DKK 1720.00 per applicant. Small, medium enterprises with business registration numbers in Singapore are eligible to apply. This means that if a supplier is keen to supply to Singapore customers, the supplier should look into this funding, check for sector-specific approved equipment, motivate customers to acquire its robotic solutions (if it is approved) and apply for reimbursement after procurement.


Next Steps

Danish companies with available robotics solutions in any of the above 23 industries (especially health, environmental, construction and maritime), should contact Trade Council in Singapore for one-to-one consultation.


If you would like to have a one-to-one consultation, get in touch with:

Chin Ee, CHAI

Senior Commercial Advisor

Danish Embassy in Singapore

Phone: +65 92214028

Email: chicha@um.dk

[1] https://ifr.org/ifr-press-releases/news/robot-density-nearly-doubled-globally [2] https://techwireasia.com/2022/05/robotics-moving-from-manpower-to-autonomous-solutions-in-singapore/

[3] https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/10-year-plan-for-singapore-manufacturing-to-grow-50-by-2030-chan-chun-sing

[4] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/industry-transformation-maps-to-be-refreshed-and-strengthened-over-the-next-five [5] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/revised-industry-map-for-shipping-sector-aims-for-2-billion-growth-and-1000-new-jobs [6] https://www.nrf.gov.sg/about-nrf/national-research-foundation-singapore/nrf-setup

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