The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) announced the Distributed Smart Value Chain (DSVC) programme that will enable manufacturers to band together to swiftly respond as a connected value chain to fluctuations in demand and supply. This novel approach will allow manufacturers to make business decisions as a value chain, and reconfigure production sites to seize business opportunities that they might not have been able to take on as individual entities.
The DSVC programme targets companies with multi-site operations as well as companies looking to enhance their resilience in manufacturing operations. It seeks to increase the competitiveness and resilience of manufacturers in Singapore and beyond, allowing them to collectively take advantage of business opportunities and effectively respond to any large supply chain disruptions.
Led by A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), the programme will involve process automation, machine learning and cybersecurity capabilities from other A*STAR research entities – Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC), Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC) and Centre for Frontier AI Research (CFAR) – as well as AI-centric optimisation capabilities from institutes of higher learning such as Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).
The DSVC programme will focus on:
- Decentralised decision-making: To facilitate secure data sharing among manufacturers, including those with multi-site operations, and enable decision-making as a value chain
- Flexible shopfloor: To support manufacturers in planning for fast changeover of production lines, for rapid actualisation of decisions. Software and algorithms will be developed to enable quick shopfloor response, and hardware changes will be recommended to enable reconfigurability
- Proof-of-Concept: To build pilot lines in manufacturers’ production sites that can demonstrate the concept of decentralised decision-making and multi-site production
Benefits of the DSVC programme
Currently, manufacturers rely on their own resources and processes to handle fluctuations in supply and demand as well as disruptions to equipment and raw materials. Some manufacturers may lack the production capacity to take up large orders from customers, missing out on business opportunities. On the other hand, companies with multi-site operations may find it challenging to integrate data across diverse enterprise systems, resulting in delayed responses to demand and supply changes.
Through the DSVC programme, a group of manufacturers can easily share data on resource availability, and decide whether to accept a customer’s order together as a value chain. For example, manufacturers experiencing supply chain disruptions will be able to deliver customers’ orders by tapping resources from others in the connected value chain.
Manufacturers will decide on the information they are prepared to share on the platform on top of critical information required for decentralised decision-making. Information shared, such as production and resource availability, and profitability considerations, will allow manufacturers to quickly make decisions together as an entire value chain. These include decisions on whether to accept a large order, and pricing strategies for the manufacture of various products. Manufacturers can also automate the decision-making process.
Besides streamlining decision-making as a value chain, DSVC also addresses the need for rapid actualisation of decisions on the shopfloor. This is done through increasing the reconfigurability of manufacturing sites via both software and hardware changes, for manufacturers to easily change the setup of their machines and production lines to optimise production for incoming orders and new products.
This effort will include developing a machine and production line configuration toolkit to provide recommendations for production line setup and modular equipment design, such as installing adaptive grippers on existing machines to pick and place components of varying shapes, sizes, and materials. An adaptive inspection system will also be developed to determine appropriate inspection methods and configurations aligned to product specifications, especially for new product families.
DSVC will drive the adoption of digital technologies, moving the industry towards autonomous manufacturing. With DSVC, manufacturers can handle more dynamic demands and participate in value chain decision-making in near real-time. They can also take advantage of more business opportunities, with reconfigurable manufacturing sites that allow them to optimise production for existing and new product families.