Precision engineering is the crucial enabler for industries as diverse as aerospace, oil & gas, medical devices and electronics. It is the essential ingredient in the manufacturing of the smallest semiconductor chips, to the most cutting-edge of medical devices, and the largest drill bits used in oil exploration.
Singapore’s precision engineering activities began in the 1970s to support the first manufacturing investments. Today, there are some 2,700 companies, ranging from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to large multinational corporations (MNCs), in the precision engineering sector. Singapore also plays host to the headquarters and R&D functions of many of these companies.
A Partnership with Global Players
Singapore’s precision engineering sector comprises a range of companies from contract manufacturers to full solution providers, who offer design, prototyping, production and supply chain management capabilities. The precision engineering sector’s unique strengths are key reasons for Singapore’s global leadership position in areas such as aerospace, semiconductor equipment and oil & gas equipment.
Making the Connection
Precision Engineering is also flourishing in Singapore, as companies leverage on Singapore’s strong supplier base and vast connectivity to the region. And importantly, Singapore’s well-established research and development infrastructure allows companies to gain competitive advantages over their competitors.
Manufacturing is a key engine of the Singapore economy, accounting for some 20-25% of the GDP. Key industry clusters include electronics, chemicals, biomedical sciences, info-communications and media, logistics, and transport engineering.
New areas of growth such as clean energy, environment and water, and natural resources, complement the established key clusters. Investment sources have also been expanded to new geographies such as Oceania, China and India.
Precision engineering is a core enabler for many industries such as complex equipment, marine, aerospace, oil & gas, and medical devices. It is the skill that enables us to design and build complex components for sophisticated machinery; from the tiniest semiconductor chips to mechanical hearts; to sturdy drill bits for deep sea exploration to complicated aircraft engines. Singapore accounts for about 10% of global output for refrigeration compressors, 30% of global output for hearing aids, and about 70% of wire bonders used in the semiconductor industry. The island is the leading location in the region for the production of oil and gas equipment, as well as aerospace maintenance repair and overhaul.
Comprehensive Range of Capabilities
Singapore’s precision engineering industry has moved from being simple contract manufacturers to solution providers with strong design, prototyping, production and supply chain management capabilities. The Supplier Development Initiative (SDI) encourages supplier companies to enhance their capabilities and establish business linkages with larger companies. It enables OEM manufacturers in the semiconductor equipment, aerospace, medical technology and electronics sectors to build business relationships with contract manufacturers and suppliers in Singapore. With some 2,700 companies in the precision engineering sector, Singapore therefore offers a wide spectrum of products and services.
Precision Engineering Industry Transformation Map
Under the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the precision engineering industry, the industry mix of the precision engineering industry will be shifted towards higher value-added activities that would form the foundation for the next era of manufacturing. This will be done by growing complementary verticals in advanced technologies such as robotics, additive manufacturing, sensors, advanced materials and lasers & optics. Under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan, Singapore has set aside S$3.3 billion for R&D in Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering. Groundwork has been laid for some of the new growth areas. At Budget 2016, the $450 million National Robotics Programme (NRP) led by the EDB and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) was launched to develop an innovative robotics industry and to drive local lead demand and adoption of robotics. Similarly, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) housed at the Nanyang Technological University has a dual mandate to support R&D in additive manufacturing and adoption of the technology in SMEs.
Highly Skilled Manpower
To meet the needs of businesses, we are continually upgrading our manpower and plan ahead for anticipated demand. In October 2007, a $76 million Precision Engineering manpower initiative was launched to attract a new generation of engineering talent to join the PE industry, and to upgrade & deepen the capabilities of our PE manpower base. Since the launch, more than 800 diploma-level graduates have been trained and placed in the PE industry.
This initiative was supplemented in 2012 by another $52 million skills-based Precision Engineering Vocational Continuing Education & Training (PEVC), targeted at attracting and grooming craftsmen to helm future manufacturing shopfloors.
Under the PEVC initiative, a sustainable pool of highly-skilled master craftsmen will be developed to address the future needs of our manufacturing. The PEVC aims to create a desirable upgrading pathway and promote good career opportunities for all levels.
- National Precision Engineering Study Award (NPESA)
This award offers financial support to cover ITE course fees, a monthly allowance and overseas internship opportunities to qualifying students. Details on the award are available here.
- Precision Engineering Master Craftsman (PeMC) Programme
Developed in partnership with NYP with support from SPRING and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), this programme trains PE professionals in deep technical expertise and to take on leadership/mentorship positions in the company. Details on the programme are available here.
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FACTS AND FIGURES
- Singapore’s precision engineering industry saw an output of S$32 billion in 2014. The industry’s value added (VA) was S$8.8 billion for that year, nearly 15% of Singapore’s manufacturing VA.
- The precision engineering industry employed 94,000 people in 2014, i.e. 22.6 percent of the total manufacturing workforce. It is made up of some 2,700 companies, ranging from SMEs to large MNCs.
- Singapore’s unique strengths in precision engineering are the key reasons for its global leadership. For example, Singapore accounts for more than 10 percent of the global output for backend semiconductor equipment. In addition, the strong precision engineering capabilities in Singapore have attracted 9 of the top 10 wafer fabrication equipment companies to procure significantly from local based suppliers.
- Singapore manufactures wafer inspection tools, which are engineered to identify nano-scale defects. This is comparable in magnitude to spotting a strand of white hair on the ground from about 2,000 feet above - or about four times the height of the Singapore Flyer.