i4.0 today





By James Boey, Executive Director, SingEx Exhibitions

Smart homes. Smart gadgets. Smart living with smart solutions. Technology is the modern-day balm to the soul and it nourishes the competitive spirit that compels us to be best-in-class in our professional lives. For individuals, it may just be an enabler of convenience. But for corporations, it is the nirvana of truth that paves the way for disruptive innovations and creates a new world of alternative realities.

The 4th Industrial Revolution is creating ripples of change that is infinite in effect and resounding in impact. It is like an omnipresent cloud of influence that transforms business models and reinvents product lifecycles from design to production. This blurring of realities has created a fusion of technologies that offers up cyber-physical systems pretty much like a sacred cash cow of unlimited potential.

With consumers getting smart and demanding sophistication in their products and services, manufacturers too have to answer the call for transformation with technological breakthroughs in smart manufacturing that push the agenda for industrial IoT. It is easy to push out innovations that may be just the darling of the moment but have no more substance and economic impact than internet-connected toilets.

With this context, we take a look at the overriding trends influencing the industry.

Below: Smart IoT solutions generate smart dialogue

  1. Ever the twain with AI and HI

Will it be a world of dystopia or utopia for mankind? As the onslaught of artificial intelligence continues to impact us in our lives, we all question the necessary evil of technology. Is it necessarily smarter? Is creativity our saving grace? According to Oliver Tian, Immediate Past President of the Singapore Industrial Automation Association (SIAA), all’s not lost for humanity.

He had this to say at IoT Asia 2018 this year: “IoT sectors which include artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning and big data analytics have already disrupted our way of life, challenged established processes, and threatened conventional progression roadmaps… By fostering a culture of openness, continued innovation, investment and commitment, our regional IoT ecosystem comprising communities and stakeholders will play a key role in shaping developments and spurring the global environment to adapt and leverage on the profound economic changes to come.”

Today, the impact of AI can be felt from healthcare to human resources. The 2018 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report revealed that the adoption of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) is accelerating dramatically. Forty-one percent of respondents rated this topic as very important. Almost half of the survey’s respondents said that their organisations are deeply involved in automation projects with 24% using AI and robotics to perform routine tasks, 16% to augment human skills and 7% to restructure work entirely.

Chatbots may replace personal shoppers; AI assistants (Siri, Alexa) may put nannies out of their jobs; and self-driving technology could displace drivers. But it is important to remember that the most effective applications will still require a human touch.

AI and HI may be trending topics today, but the star for this industry is industrial intelligence.

HANNOVER MESSE 2019 is one of the platforms that will be exploring the driving forces behind the intelligent industry. The theme this year is: Integrated Industry – Industrial Intelligence. This refers to the digital networking of humans and machines in the age of artificial intelligence, which is an important theme that interests manufacturers, brands and businesses in Asia. The Asia Pacific market will benefit from AI and machine learning at Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC 2019 – a Hannover Messe Event which will be held in October 2019 in Singapore.

In Asia, where the rate of IoT technology adoption is gaining velocity, it is crucial that key event platforms are able to create the right connections for technology solution providers, enablers, end users and adopters. In the 2019 edition of IoT Asia, to be held March 27 to 28, we will be highlighting the application of IoT for the retail and logistics sectors. More importantly, the show will showcase two emerging technologies that are taking the world by storm ­– artificial intelligence and blockchain. The show programme will deep dive into specific industry applications that will add value and enhance takeaways for all attendees.

Below: Industry leaders speaking at the ITAP 2018 Conference

  1. Not just about tech, but about people and partnerships

Bots still need their human masters, so we cannot rest on our laurels.

Singapore makes a strong case.

Senior Minister for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon stressed at ITAP 2018: “Workers have to be the ultimate beneficiaries of industrial change.” According to him, “A successful Industry 4.0 in Singapore is only possible with worker 4.0.”

Singapore workers can look forward to numerous workforce development initiatives announced by the minister at ITAP. One key initiative is SkillsFuture Singapore’s new continuing education and training (CET) strategy for advanced manufacturing, aimed at attracting, retaining and developing talent in the field.

In his speech, Mr Koh also touched on the importance of public-private partnerships to harness the potential of manufacturing-related technological advances.

To that end, 17 companies, including automotive manufacturer Rolls-Royce and local firms, have begun collaborating with the Industrial Internet of Things platform developed by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star). The platform seeks to develop and accelerate the adoption of smart manufacturing technologies such as sensors, industrial data analytics and cyber security. Three research projects focusing on manufacturing technologies were also awarded a Singapore-Germany grant, which will also support research collaboration between the two nations’ public and private institutes and organisations.

ITAP 2018,  which is the region’s largest advanced manufacturing trade show, drew 15,000 visitors across 55 countries and more than 260 companies from global technology and solution providers. The exhibition features four main display areas – Additive Manufacturing, Digital Factory, Industrial Automation, and Smart Logistics – as well as national pavilions from Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore. Fourteen industry-leading enterprises supported the premiere, including Accenture, SAP, Schneider Electric and Siemens as founding partners.

Seen & Heard at ITAP 2018 in Singapore

“Singapore is the perfect location for Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific thanks to its excellent infrastructure, advanced manufacturing capabilities and a strong focus on engineering, R&D and innovation.”

– Dr. Jochen Köckler, Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Messe AG

“The event is poised to generate significant economic benefits for Asia Pacific as it plays a role in catalysing deepened cross-industry collaboration, investments and trade exchanges among players in the manufacturing, manufacturing-related and digital communities of our region; and enhancing competitiveness.”

– Mr. Aloysius Arlando, Chief Executive Officer of SingEx Holdings

“The rapid wave of transformation in manufacturing is prompting our businesses and workers to rethink what we need to do differently to stay ahead of competition…through the ITAP event, we look forward to working with partners to build a robust community for collaboration and knowledge exchange to help Singapore and countries in the region upgrade their manufacturing capabilities, and to further cement Singapore’s position as a leading manufacturing hub.”

– Mr Lim Kok Kiang, Assistant Managing Director, Singapore Economic Development Board

Below: IoT Asia 2018 addressed the ambitions of the Smart City in the new 4.0 world

  1. Platform economy fuelling experimentation

With the Internet of Things (IoT) binding our physical and digital worlds together, we saw an opportunity to respond to the needs of today’s business event participants at IoT Asia 2018.

Underscoring the integral role that the community plays in today’s digital and global world, SingEx launched The Interchange – a digital community platform to bring different industry players and communities onto a common space, in order to address challenges or problem statements together as part of an expanded ecosystem. Connecting various communities within and beyond the current operating universe, the platform enables members to seek out and adapt solutions to serve each community’s unique needs.

While expecting to be engaged on multiple fronts, participants are most keen to build meaningful relationships; learn from other industries; explore radical opportunities; and derive real business value out of their committed time. By being connected in new ways, both in the online sense as well as within existing and new communities, this helps businesses address industry challenges; seed and test-bed new ideas; accelerate their time-to-market; and achieve commercial success.

  1. When the smart agenda crosses swords with social concerns

As consumers and corporations get caught up with the myriad of possibilities, it is easy to overlook IoT problems which typically emerge during the implementation phase. With as many as 50 billion connected devices by 2020, we can expect a tsunami of problems to hit us. From privacy infringement to data theft and physical security issues, the list goes on as IoT services expands. What should we be aware of? Who should take responsibility? Government, the CIO, or a consumer body?

The IoT and the problems related to cyberattacks take a prominent position in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report for 2018. Each year, researchers with the Global Risks Report work with experts and decision-makers across the world to identify and analyse the most pressing risks that the world faces. As the pace of change accelerates, and as risk interconnections deepen, this year’s report highlights the growing strain we are placing on many of the global systems we rely upon.

Are hackers, phishers and stalkers having a field day in the IoT era? Has the proliferation of IoT devices made the human element more vulnerable? In addition to paying attention to tactics that increase security (e.g. strong cryptography, data loss prevention, web filtering technology) why not visit The Interchange for some answers, or raise this as a topic for discussion today?

At SingEx, we believe strongly in being a proponent of the learning journey in the 4th revolution and to create platforms that build value chains and connect smart cities with industrial IoT of economic value. We organise owned and managed shows such as IoT Asia and Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific that bring together industry players to facilitate adoption rate, improve business efficiency and increase bottom-line. This translates into tangible business opportunities that make sense for manufacturers.

While manufacturers are keen to fast track the production of innovative products and solutions to capture a bigger market share, it is also important to be cognizant of the trends and opportunities that create important business leverage.