Sunday, 14 January 2018

Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map: Road map to boost Singapore's edge in maritime industry launched

Over 5,000 good jobs to be created by 2025, with sector's value-add expanded by $4.5 billion
By Jacqueline Woo, The Straits Times, 13 Jan 2018

Maintaining Singapore's thriving maritime industry as a world leader is the central theme of an ambitious new blueprint for the sector unveiled yesterday.

It underlined just how vital the industry is for the economy while also laying out the challenges it faces to maintain and strengthen its position amid fierce global competition.

The Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM), as the strategy is called, noted that Singapore starts from a position of strength.

Container throughput rose 8.9 per cent to 33.7 million containers last year, while the maritime industry as a whole employed more than 170,000 people and contributed 7 per cent to the economy.

"While 2017 was a better year than the last, we watch with cautious optimism, as the road ahead remains challenging. Indeed, we have to continue to paddle hard to stay ahead," said Dr Lam Pin Min, Senior Minister of State for Transport and for Health.

He made it clear that major changes lie ahead, from port workers upgrading skills to management grappling with radical new technology. The sector is in for "real and deep transformation over the next few years", he noted.

"We must fundamentally relook the way we operate... as well as the kind of capabilities our maritime workforce needs," he said.

The ITM has an overarching vision: to make Singapore a global maritime hub for connectivity, innovation and talent. That, in turn, means expanding the sector's value-add by $4.5 billion and creating over 5,000 good jobs by 2025.

Dr Lam said at the ITM launch ceremony at PSA Pasir Panjang Terminal Building 3: "We not only have to continue to deliver world-class port services, we must also capture new growth opportunities."

One key strategy is to build up a well-connected international maritime centre cluster. That will involve the Government continuing to boost the port's physical connectivity by anchoring and attracting shipping lines here.

More initiatives, such as the inaugural Maritime Capital Forum last year, will also be rolled out to develop the maritime financing landscape here.

Another key thrust is to drive growth through better productivity and innovation, particularly by using automation and digitalisation.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is developing technology platforms to facilitate the sharing of vessel and cargo-related information with the wider trading community.

It is also looking at digitalising trade and maritime documentation, like using electronic bills of lading.

The Singapore Maritime Institute will invest $12 million to set up the Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports that will enhance the Singapore port's ability to handle increasingly complex operations.

The Government will do more to bring well-trained personnel into the industry, said Dr Lam, adding that most of the 5,000 new jobs to be created will be professional, manager, executive and technician roles.

Those in more traditional jobs will undergo skills upgrading as jobs evolve with increasing automation and digitalisation.

This year, two maritime SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programmes launched earlier in 2016 will be open to more graduates, enabling junior seafarers to deepen their skills to take on higher-level jobs.

The ITM is the first of eight road maps to be launched this year. A total of 15 ITMs have already been set in motion as part of a $4.5 billion industry transformation package announced in Budget 2016.

Industry transformation map wins support of maritime companies
By Jacqueline Woo, The Straits Times, 13 Jan 2018

The Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) has earned backing from firms in the industry, especially for its focus on digital solutions and better productivity.

Local shipbroker Eastport Maritime believes the ITM will provide firms more impetus to upgrade.

"Shipping is quite process-driven, and a lot of these processes are still done manually," chairman Matthias Cher told The Straits Times.

"The push for innovation under the ITM reminds us that transformation is under way, and that our industry will have to go with the flow to embrace technology."

Mr Cher was referring to initiatives such as developing electronic bills of lading.

The MPA, Singapore Customs and the Singapore Shipping Association inked an agreement yesterday to look into digitalising trade and maritime documentation.

"All these initiatives to encourage digitalisation gears the industry up to look at technology. It makes us realise that actually, with support from the MPA, this might not be so difficult," said Mr Cher. "After all, it is not easy to say 'no' to digitalisation because it is coming right at our faces."

Mr Cher added that Eastport has already benefited from MPA's Maritime Cluster Fund on a few projects, including one last year that allowed the firm to tap funding to develop a tool to help raise productivity.

"Our staff used to do some of the data entry and analysis manually, which took up a lot of time and also made room for human errors," he said.

"So, we got a third-party technology developer to come up with a structured, digital tool for us. In three months, it came up with the tool, which has been able to reduce the number of man-hours for data processing by 30 per cent."

Other industry players, and even those from adjacent sectors, have given the new road map the nod.

Mr Teo Siong Seng, managing director of home-grown shipping line Pacific International Lines, noted that the initiative was developed with strong tripartite partnership in the maritime industry, and will help position it for growth.

"It is through this strong partnership that the ITM initiatives will continue to be refined and sharpened to meet the changing needs of respective industries," he said.

Mr Robert Yap, executive chairman of logistics giant YCH Group, added that the ITM will bring Singapore one step closer to cementing its position as a leading logistics and supply chain management hub.

He noted that the Logistics ITM itself has seen good progress, with 45 firms from the newly formed Supply Chain and Logistics Academy participating in the Logistics Professional Conversion Programme, of which 80 per cent are small and medium-sized enterprises.

Future Tuas mega port will be “efficient and intelligent”: MPA
Port will tap tech, data to optimise ops
By Jacqueline Woo, The Straits Times, 15 Jan 2018

The future Tuas mega port will be an "efficient and intelligent" port that harnesses emerging technologies and data analytics to optimise operations, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

These will include capabilities such as "just-in-time" vessel arrival applications and the upcoming Maritime Single Window, which will facilitate quicker port clearances.

And to stay in the forefront, Singapore is investing in more such new port capabilities, said the MPA in a statement last Friday.

The MPA and port operator PSA will, as part of the freshly launched Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM), step up research and development efforts as well as capability development in the areas of digitalisation, connected community systems, and automation and robotics.

A fleet of 30 automated guided vehicles have already been deployed in a trial at the Pasir Panjang 3 Terminal, along with automated yard cranes and quay cranes.

"Deployment of such automated systems will be scaled up in the Tuas port," said the MPA.

The Sea Transport ITM, which covers the port, shipping and maritime services sectors, comprises specific initiatives to catalyse innovation, drive productivity improvements, as well as enhance the skills of the maritime workforce.

The aim is to grow the industry's value-add by $4.5 billion and create more than 5,000 good jobs by 2025.

The ITM was launched in conjunction with PSA's new exhibition on its advanced port technologies, including some that are being unveiled to the public for the first time.

The Intelligent Port of the Future exhibition, which opened last week, will now run until Wednesday at Pasir Panjang Terminal Building 3, instead of ending yesterday as initially planned.

It depicts PSA's journey in adopting technology and the progress it has made in the use of automation, data analytics, robotics and other technologies, PSA said in a statement last week.

The exhibition offers visitors a first-time look at technologies in use at container terminals in Singapore and those being considered for the future Tuas port.

These include amphibious drones, automated quay cranes, exoskeletons for port staff, as well as robotic arms for related container activities.

Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map to Drive Singapore’s Vision to be a Global Maritime Hub for Connectivity, Innovation and Talent
Tuas mega port: Keeping the ships sailing in – why the mega port matters

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