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Supply Chain 4.0 Launched in Singapore to Integrate More Technology for Businesses

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Singapore’s new Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative was recently announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat as part of a series of announcements made on the first day of the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (Itap) 2021 event, to integrate more technology to help smaller businesses deal with any major future disruptions in product or service supply. Mr Heng said the pandemic uncovered supply chain vulnerabilities, citing manufacturing lockdowns and border limitations as examples of issues.

However, diversifying supply chains is insufficient, according to Mr Heng, who said, “We must also address substantial inefficiencies in the flow of goods, as well as the massive amount of documentation required as cargo flows through the supply chain.”

The Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative is said to be funded by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and supported by two research partners, the National University of Singapore and the Singapore University of Technology and Design, with a total expenditure of $18 million over two years. The initial initiative’s goal is to create digital and automated solutions to fulfil corporate needs, as well as to employ technology to make supply chains more agile, resilient, and secure.

It would enable small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) which may lack the resources – to use such solutions and gain improved awareness into supply chains, which are often only available to multinational corporations (MNCs).

A*Star’s new Supply Chain Control Tower, which is located in the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre in Jurong West, will be used to evaluate these ideas. The Supply Chain Control Tower gathers data from enterprises to assist them to understand how items flow not only within their own company but also throughout the supply chain.

Artificial intelligence (AI) could be used to assist businesses in spotting trends and detecting developments that could cause disruptions, allowing them to make changes to their business models ahead of time.

Historical data could also be used to assist businesses in forecasting demand. When launching a new product, for example, a corporation could look at data from similar products that were introduced previously to better estimate demand for its product and plan appropriately. Making Internet-connected sensors, which help organisations collect data in the supply chain, safer against being hacked is another research focus within the Supply Chain 4.0 Initiative.

OpenGov Asia reported the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) are also investing close to S$70 million to support “cutting-edge” communications and connectivity research. Mr Heng noted that SGTraDex will onboard stakeholders along the supply chain, especially smaller firms, so they can be part of this digital backbone. SGTraDex will also enable new value-added services for supply chain participants and speed up the processing of customs clearance, trade financing, insurance, and other related activities, the Deputy Prime Minister said.

SGTraDex was conceptualised by the Alliance for Action (AfA) on Supply Chain Digitalisation which will be anchored through a public-private partnership. SGTraDex is a digital infrastructure that facilitates trusted and secure sharing of data between supply chain ecosystem partners. Globally, there is a macro shift in trade flows and supply chains both physically and digitally. There have been momentous inefficiencies in events, documentation and financial information flows across the supply chain.

SGTraDex aims to streamline information flows across a fragmented global supply chain ecosystem through a common data highway. With this digital transformation, companies will gain the momentum to build a stronger and robust supply chain ecosystem for international trade flows. New efficiencies and opportunities will be unlocked through this collaboration where ecosystem partners come together to achieve shared visibility of the end-to-end supply chain.

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