Singapore Issues New Supply Chain Initiative to Help SMEs
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the launch of an S$18 million (US$13.1 million) Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative at the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP) 2021 event.
The initiative aims to integrate more technology to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with any future disruptions to supply chains. This means developing digital and automated solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI) that can meet the demands of businesses.
AI could help SMEs spot trends that could cause disruptions to their supply chains and allow them to make the necessary changes ahead of time. Further, the collected data can assist businesses in forecasting demand for new products and building more robust supply and resilient chains.The investments will spread over two years and are led by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), the government’s research and development arm, in collaboration with the National University of Singapore and the Singapore University of Technology and Design’s Centre for Next Generation Logistics.
The pandemic has exposed the supply chain vulnerabilities caused by border limitations and manufacturing lockdowns. Moreover, the pandemic also uncovered the inefficiencies in the flow of goods such as the magnitude of documentation needed as the cargo flows through the supply chain.
The supply chain control tower
A*Star’s new Supply Chain Control Tower is the location where these solutions will be developed. The tower is located at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) which is a contemporary platform that brings together industry partners, academia, and public sector research institutes to translate research into industrial applications.
More than 50 companies from across five sectors (aerospace, pharmaceuticals, fast-moving consumer goods, semiconductors, and precision engineering) have shown eagerness to participate in the initiative. The data collected by the Supply Chain Control Tower from companies can be used to help businesses better understand their supply chains as well as the broad supply chains.
Digitalization of supply chains key to strengthening resilience
Digitalizing supply chains will be key to strengthening its resilience in the future. Singapore launched the Singapore Trade Data Exchange (SGTraDex) in mid-2021 and facilitates the secure sharing of data between supply chain ecosystem partners through a common data highway.
The system can connect to local, regional, and global data systems and thus enable all parties, regardless of their size. The platform has the potential to unlock some S$200 million (US$150 million) of value annually for the supply chain ecosystem. It will accelerate the customs clearance process, insurance, and trade financing, and enables the sharing of operational data to provide greater visibility to logistics partners such as shippers and haulers.The improved visibility will help partners to improve their asset utilization, enhance operational efficiencies, and increase productivity.
Singapore is developing a suite of digital infrastructure and utilities for various sectors. In 2020, the country launched the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex), which is the world’s first digital infrastructure allowing the user to sign in using their national digital identity and obtain financial information from financial agencies and institutions.
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