Enabling Industry 4.0 in Singapore through its Manufacturing 2030 vision

According to the Savills Live-Work Index1, Singapore is one of the most expensive places to set up a company, with an annual cost of US$61,335 per employee. However, Singapore has introduced the Manufacturing 2030 plan to help grow the country’s manufacturing sector by 50% by the year 2030.

Singapore's Manufacturing 2030 three-part plan:

  • Attract frontier investments
  • Develop and transform local enterprises in advanced manufacturing
  • Develop talent in the manufacturing field

The ultimate goal is to ensure the sector continues to contribute its 21% share to Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP).


The pandemic and recurring global lockdowns significantly disrupted the global supply chain, causing a shortage in both raw materials and manpower. As the manufacturing ecosystem is changing, businesses need to follow suit in order to survive and thrive.

Manufacturing 2030 upholds the shift to “qualitative transformation”, where competition is based on innovation and knowledge, rather than cost. Focusing on these niche areas gives Singapore a comparative advantage and remains critical in the global value chain.

Meshing industry 4.0 into Singapore’s manufacturing ecosystem

The shift towards industry 4.0 in advanced manufacturing is vital to materialise the vision of Manufacturing 2030.

Industry 4.0 is the latest movement within the manufacturing landscape that leverages tools such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to create smart and autonomous systems.

Being one of the top five global exporters of high-tech products2, Singapore has wholly embraced Industry 4.0 initiatives. It’s also no surprise that Singapore ranked second globally in the World Economic Forum’s Readiness for the Future of Production Report 2018.

In preparation for shifts in the manufacturing ecosystem, the island state has developed a variety of initiatives to support manufacturers in their transformation journey.

Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) launched the Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI) in 2017 to provide a suite of frameworks and tools as a guide. This initiative enables frontier firms to start, scale, and sustain their manufacturing transformation journeys with ease.

Currently, Singapore is a key location for leading semiconductor firms to set up operations here, such as Micron and Infineon. It also goes beyond semiconductor firms, as American multinational pharmaceutical company, MSD, recently announced the opening of two advanced manufacturing facilities to produce vaccines and biologics in Singapore.

Chief Executive and President of MSD, Robert Davis, based the company’s decision to choose Singapore on its “world-class workforce and government that understands the value of partnership, R&D (research and development) and technological capabilities”3.

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong also referred to MSD’s new investment as a “booster shot” for the country’s Manufacturing 2030 vision.

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The value of nurturing the human element

While Industry 4.0 emphasises on intelligent machines to digitalise output, highly skilled talent is equally vital to ensure smooth operations. Singapore is mindful of the need to help redesign jobs and reskill the workforce to cope with technology-driven manufacturing processes.

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF), in partnership with Workforce Singapore (WSG), has launched the Industry 4.0 Human Capital Initiative (IHCI), which targets and supports small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs). Since its launch in March 2020, the initiative has benefitted 90 companies in adopting and implementing industry 4.0 solutions.

This program helps companies spotlight gaps in their processes, then kickstarts an eight-week programme to guide companies in closing that gap, be it labour productivity or planning efficiency. They can also adopt industry 4.0 solutions on a trial basis and receive a phased roadmap to better prepare the workforce for the transformation.

Cultivating the skills of the workforce begins in educational institutions. Local university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has partnered with automobile and aero-engineering manufacturer Rolls Royce, while the National University of Singapore (NUS) is working with Applied Materials to conduct workshops that tackle Industry 4.0 issues related to cybersecurity and computational engineering.

Other initiatives, such as SkillsFuture, bolster continuous learning through training programmes and earn-and-learn industry attachments that give fresh graduates a foot in the door and online tutorials for busy executives. Furthermore, WSG has also introduced a Professional Conversion Programme (PC) for Industry 4.0 professionals, executives, and associates.

As a forward-thinking jurisdiction, Singapore is well aware of the need for a well-rounded solution that increases the local talent pool and equips existing staff with the relevant knowledge and skill sets required in Industry 4.0.

The road to evolution ahead

Singapore’s Manufacturing 2030 strategy to position itself as an innovative global hub for manufacturers is an ambitious venture. WSG chief executive Tan Choon Shian echoes that, “the shift towards industry 4.0 means manufacturers must adopt a new way of working, automating processes and making data-driven conclusions to optimise and maximise output and production.”

A 13.2% growth and SG$8.5 billion in total fixed asset investment were observed in the manufacturing sector last year, which will create more than 6,000 jobs after the completion of projects4.

The potential for frontier firms to drive the Industry 4.0 evolution is a journey that is supported by the Singapore government. These initiatives show that Singapore is dedicated to charting the future of advanced manufacturing for frontier firms in Asia, and beyond. 

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[1] www.savills.com/insight-and-opinion/savills-news/105347

[2] www.indexmundi.com/facts/indicators/TX.VAL.TECH.CD/rankings

[3] www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/msd-announces-two-new-manufacturing-plants-as-part-of-us500m-investment-over-five

[4] www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/career-initiative-attract-locals-manufacturing-trade-singapore-economy-2030-2537856