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Singapore aims to boost high value manufacturing

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:precision engineering? robotics? manufacturing?

The engineering department of the National University of Singapore has partnered with A*STAR's Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) to establish two joint research labs in precision motion systems and industrial robotics.

The 'Joint Labs' collaboration, which aims to boost productivity for high value manufacturing in the medtech, aerospace, marine & offshore and precision engineering sectors, are launched in conjunction with the Industrial Robotics Research programme of A*STAR. The multi-disciplinary venture will build on existing robotics capabilities across local research communities, including Institute for Infocomm Research and Nanyang Technological University, to advance capabilities and platforms.

The manufacturing industry is a significant pillar of the Singapore economy and contributes close to a quarter of its GDP. In recent years, the industry is facing problems such as increasing labour costs, lack of skilled labour and low productivity. Joint Labs will try to address these issues through the development of appropriate technologies for the abovementioned sectors where automation is currently lower compared to automotive and semiconductor manufacturing.

Precision machines and robotic systems

Figure 1: Enhancing the capability, performance, and intelligence of precision machines and robotic systems allow for higher throughput.

Several outcomes are expected from the research collaborations. For industrial robotics, an easy-to-use human-robot interface, with more than 50 per cent reduction in teaching and programming time compared to current robotic programming platforms, will be developed to propagate the application of robots in manufacturing. For the aerospace industry, characterised by large work pieces, high precision and better surface finishing, the Joint Labs aim to develop a reconfigurable robot work cell for flexible redeployment. It is projected that the marine & offshore industry can benefit from more than 50 per cent productivity improvement in robotic welding and weld inspection systems.

In the area of precision motion systems, the technologies for high-speed and high-precision linear motion stages, wide-format roll-to-roll machines, and multi-axis nanopositioning systems will be developed. These will help local companies build high-end machines and complex equipment for high value manufacturing.

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