Singapore’s Manufacturing Boost: Using AI to Grow and Train a Tech-Savvy Workforce

Marcelo Tarkieltaub

Regional Director, Southeast Asia,
Rockwell Automation

Singapore is more than just a dot on the global map; it is a magnet for manufacturing owing to its record of and investment in innovation. From robotics to predictive analytics and now artificial intelligence (AI), the country is at the forefront of technological advancements. 

The manufacturing industry represents a significant component of Singapore’s GDP — approximately 20% — and is highly valued and supported by the Singapore Government.  In 2022, the total manufacturing output in Singapore was valued at approximately 447.53 billion Singapore dollars

With a second-place global ranking in industry-related robot density, the country has become an impressive destination for top-tier global manufacturers. However, increasing competition and rising labour costs are pushing the sector to seek more efficient ways to sustain growth and profitability.

One promising solution making waves is the use of artificial intelligence (AI). AI adoption will not only make manpower more efficient; it will exploit the full potential of machinery on the factory floor. According to research by Accenture, Singapore’s manufacturing industry is expected to grow by 40% more by 2035 with the use AI technology. 

But while AI offers transformative possibilities, it’s not without challenges. Companies must invest in AI literacy and training for their workforce, along with expert collaborations for AI implementation. The time to act is now: understanding how to leverage AI in manufacturing is a critical for the present, and for the future.

Upskilling the Workforce for AI Integration

According to  Rockwell Automation’s 8th Annual State of Smart Manufacturing Report, APAC manufacturers encounter significant challenges in smart manufacturing adoption, including employee resistance to tech adoption, skill gaps in implementation, and a lack of clarity on value and return on investment (ROI). 

To address these challenges, manufacturers should empower their employees with the necessary skills to adapt to evolving roles and collaborate effectively with AI systems. Providing education and upskilling opportunities to enhance digital capabilities is crucial. AI and Augmented Reality (AR) tools can be highly effective in this regard, creating virtual environments for experiential learning and knowledge-sharing.

The encouraging news is that Singapore stands out as one of the leading regions for AI adoption in the area.

According to the latest “Future of Work” report by LinkedIn, workers in Singapore have emerged as the fastest learners when it comes to acquiring AI-related skills. The report’s key discovery revolves around the impressive surge in the adoption of AI skills in Singapore. The “diffusion rate,” which gauges the percentage of LinkedIn members showcasing AI skills on their profiles, has skyrocketed a remarkable 20-fold since January 2016. 

That said, employers must ensure that the right tools are readily available to support the workforce to empower employees in better decision-making. This reduces digital literacy barriers, mitigating the impact of skills gaps. Ultimately, fostering a digitally confident workforce becomes an achievable goal when employees are equipped with the tools to refine their skills.

AI in F&B Manufacturing: Boosting Efficiency and Quality

Let’s talk about AI in F&B manufacturing. Blending AI within an F&B business could mean using tools such as machine learning and behavioural analytics to enable business owners to make more accurate, data-driven business decisions.  According to the blog Tntra, Kraft Heinz, a prominent food manufacturer, has leveraged AI to transform its supply chain management. Integrating AI seamlessly into logistics, the company aims to conquer operational challenges. This effort has yielded significant results, with a 42% reduction in operator alerts, demonstrating improved efficiency and risk mitigation.

One vital application of AI in manufacturing is predictive maintenance. AI algorithms analyze data from machinery sensors to predict breakdowns, allowing proactive maintenance and minimizing downtime and costs.

Real-time monitoring systems, powered by AI, track data from various sources like sensors and IoT devices, enabling manufacturers to optimize processes, identify inefficiencies, and address issues promptly so that the production quality is consistent. Yakult, the probiotic drink manufacturer, employs AI and ML for quality control during production. Automated systems analyze data from sensors to ensure that each bottle meets stringent quality standards, enhancing product consistency.

Collaborative robots, or cobots, work alongside human employees, offering cost-effective and hygienic solutions for tasks like assembling and packaging products. They operate safely without the need for protective cages. 

Incorporating AI into F&B manufacturing enhances productivity and quality control, making it a game-changer in the industry.

It’s Time to Embrace the AI Revolution

The transformative impact of AI in the manufacturing sector in Singapore is undeniable. AI solutions such as predictive maintenance, real-time monitoring, and collaborative robots (cobots) can lead to sustainable growth and innovation. The key to lasting success lies in the seamless integration of AI solutions, coupled with empowering a digitally confident workforce to not only adapt but thrive in this new era of manufacturing.