Singapore will use advanced manufacturing to cement chemicals future

Article by Adam Duckett

Jurong Island: Singapore is home to a world-scale chemicals production hub despite not producing a single drop of its own oil

SINGAPORE has put innovation and building skills at the heart of a new strategy to boost its energy and chemicals (E&C) industry.

“We have developed an extensive chemicals value chain spanning from refining to olefins production, to chemicals manufacturing supported by innovation and research – all without producing a single drop of oil,” said trade and industry minister Lim Hng Kiang on Saturday as he outlined the key aims of a new Industry Transformation Map.

He added that the plans, which have been developed by the government in partnership with industry and trade associations, are focussed on maintaining Singapore’s position in the face of uncertainty over oil prices, tightening emissions regulations, and the rise of “advantaged feedstocks” such as shale.

Singapore is the world’s fifth-largest refinery export hub and is ranked within the world’s top ten for volumes of exported chemicals.

“Through the efforts of the ITM, we aim for our E&C industry to achieve a manufacturing value-add of S$12.7bn (US$9.3bn) and create 1,400 new good jobs by 2025.”

Innovation will be the key driver he said, boosting productivity at existing plants and developing new chemical products. The “first prong” of the innovation efforts will be to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies such as robotics and the industrial internet of things (IIoT).

“By 2020, we aim to have 20 E&C plants, including all refineries and crackers, adopt advanced manufacturing technologies. This will provide a strong foundation for our effort to be scaled to the rest of the industry,” Lim said.

The second area of focus will be on capabilities. The country’s Economic Development Board and A*Star university are working to identify the technology and skills needs of companies. Noting that “talent remains at the heart of our strategies,” Lim outlined a number of schemes that aim to help equip people for advanced manufacturing.  

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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