Even up to recent years, many ASEAN companies were struggling to bridge the gap and make the transitional leap from creating prototype 3D designs to industrial additive manufacturing. In my work, I saw many companies still stuck in the second industrial revolution, using Excel spreadsheets to track and document operational processes. Many of them were resistant to the dire need to transform their business operations, citing challenges such as high cost of transition and potential huge disruption to operations.
This prompted the vision to de-mystify the challenges of digital transformation and allow for greater access to these technologies. This could be done via removing the barriers to digital transformation and adoption of advance technologies by lowering the cost of access to these technologies. Out of this ambition, the Advance Manufacturing Technology Center was born.
How we help
At the AMTC, we support companies on their digital transformation journey, developing a tailored transformation and transition plan. The facility provides guidance, support and training to manufacturing facilities in Singapore and its surrounding developing countries (ASEAN), who are in the process of adopting advanced manufacturing. AMTC provides a holistic approach through its unique platform of technology partners, where each partner covers a key portion of the advance manufacturing value chain, including partners like advance technology machine builders, certification bodies and academic institutions.
We work together as an ecosystem to integrate the various systems and processes involved, particularly in additive manufacturing, allowing seamless operations for companies and users. We train the workforce of the future through seminars, hands-on workshops and digitalks, and provide companies with low-cost access to our high-end manufacturing equipment and advance manufacturing lines. We aim to impart skills and to demystify industry 4.0 technologies. We want to teach customers ‘how to fish’ for themselves, and thereby cause a multiplier effect that promotes widespread adoption of these technologies.
Seeing the results
The work of AMTC is already helping to push prototypes toward commercial viability. We recently helped a local hospital to address their shortage of PPE due to the pandemic. They had designed a novel face shield design in-house and did not have the capability to ramp up production to the large scale required. To make the manufacturing commercially viable, we not only developed the industrial manufacturing process, but also helped to build awareness of the product with the view of getting this product to more hospitals and nursing homes where the need is critical.
AMTC also allows companies to create a digital twin or virtual twin of their current and future factory sites, allowing them to simulate manufacturing operations to determine potential bottlenecks and ensure the operations are optimised. This evaluation of the digital twin will allow for the new facility or upgraded production line to be built ‘first time right’. AMTC’s capabilities in creating the digital twin simulations was recently applied to help a Medtech company, which is providing critical supplies of test kits, to digitally transform and optimise and streamline their operations. By creating the digital twin of their facility, we aimed to find areas of productivity improvements along the production line. The next phase is to proceed with the virtual commissioning with the end customer. Once the virtual twin of the factory is validated and approved by the end customer, actual construction and implementation of the optimised production line will commence.
Beyond helping companies on their digital transformation journey, Siemens is also supporting advance technology machines builders in further improving their equipment performance through our cutting-edge controls (PLCs) modules. Today, we are working with 34 machine builders (OEMs) to help improve the capabilities of their 3D printing technologies, with the additional goal of integrating these equipment platforms into complete advance production lines.
The urgent need for such a transformational facility as AMTC is evident, as we have seen a huge mindset change in manufacturing companies and the spike in interest from these companies in recent months. The AMTC has a bright future ahead, but we remain focused on the vision and the task ahead. One key vision of ours is to establish a fully automated additive manufacturing process. We have the software tools and have access to the advance technologies (OEMs), and believe that, just like 2D printers, once we press ‘print’, all we need to do is collect the final printed part at the end of the line.
In the short term, the business model and training scope will continue to evolve based on the industrial members that join, whether the company is from the healthcare sector, aerospace or marine sectors. The industry we support will determine whom else we onboard as technology partners or partner members onto our ever growing #TeamInnovate ecosystem platform. We continue to be on the lookout for technology partners that will enhance the capability of the transformation center. If you’re interested in joining our growing digital ecosystem, you can find out more here.