Singapore touts manufacturing advantages, Asia trends


Singapore, now a first-world country, offers English as its first language, half the world’s people within seven hours of flight, and an increasing ability to offer integrated supply chain capabilities, according to a Singapore government representative. Singapore has 12.7% compound annual growth rate in gross domestic product (GDP) over 40 years, growing from $966 million in 1965 to $117 billion in 2005. The country’s area is 270 square miles, about four times the size of Baltimore, MD, explains Ko Kheng Hwa, managing director, Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB) . In 2006, manufacturing is expected to contribute 28% of Singapore’s GDP, Hwa told journalists assembled for Rockwell Automation ’s Manufacturing Perspectives media event held last month, in Baltimore, on the day before Automation Fair.

“Key to strengthening the product lifecycle is PLC 361,” says Hwa. That’s not a new programmable logic controller to compete with Allen-Bradley brands, he says. It should be companies’ product lifecycle (PLC) target: develop products in 3 months, get them to market within 6 months, and liquidate within 1 month. Manufacturing has been shifting locations, but more recent among global trends has been migration of supply chains, says Hwa: U.S. to Mexico; Europe to Eastern Europe; Japan to Asia, Oceana, and Singapore. Europe also has migrated some to the U.S. and to Asia. Making that work requires companies to more closely integrate systems and manage assets over a global network. Another trend to watch is high-technology manufacturing. Singapore and Asia as a whole (except Japan) has increased share of high-technology manufacturing globally, as the U.S. widened its lead (from under 25% in 1990 to nearly 40% 2002-2003, while the European group of 15 has declined, according to Hwa, citing figures from Global Insight Inc.

With China expanding as “factory to the world,” there’s been an emergence of a Pan-Asian manufacturing network, driven by costs and by companies seeking to leverage competitive advantages, diversify risks by spreading manufacturing across multiple areas in the region, especially into areas such as Singapore, Hwa says, which has a pro-trade structure, including stringent anti-dumping measures. ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) free trade agreement, due in 2015, Hwa says, will augment the concept of a huge common market with an integrated production base, incorporating 550 million people with private consumption comparable to Coastal China, Japan, or India. The 10 ASEAN countries are, according to the Hwa-cited McKinsey study, are: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

SEDB with 19 offices globally, including 7 in the U.S., is a Singapore government agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry to create economic growth for the people of Singapore, explains Hwa. Vision is to create a global hub for business and investment, with mission of creating sustainable GDP growth, through strategies growing industries, attracting investment, developing enterprises, and enhancing pro-business environment.

Click here to read more from the event: “ Automation Fair: Pharma engineer rates PLC system over DCS .”

Mark T. Hoske , Control Engineering editor in chief

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