In the photo: One of CYC’s range of robots, “Olivia”, which is submersible under water, allowing operators to clean water containments such as sump pits and cooling tower basins while the plant continues with their normal operations. As part of CYC’s sustainability objectives, water can also be separated from sediments so as to reduce the amount of wastage for disposal. Photo credit: CYC International Pte Ltd
Singapore – More than 500 businesses and 30,000 employees can now leverage the Process Construction & Maintenance (PCM) Industry Digital Plan (IDP) to build digital capabilities and mitigate some of the current challenges faced by the industry. Jointly led by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in partnership with the Association of Process Industry (ASPRI), the IDP was launched by Ms Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Trade and Industry in August 2021. The IDP is a guide to help PCM enterprises assess their digital readiness and identify suitable digital solutions to accelerate their growth.
The IDP comprises two roadmaps – the Digital Roadmap charts out different digital solutions SMEs can adopt at each stage of their development; while the Digital Training Roadmap offers a corresponding training roadmap for employees. The former includes specially curated solutions such as Human Resource Management System, Inventory Management System, Project Management and Job Scheduling Mobile Application. SMEs that have adopted such solutions have experienced tangible productivity improvements and resource optimisation.
A step-by-step guide on digital adoption for PCM SMEs
As part of the SMEs Go Digital Programme, the IDP provides a step-by-step guide on the digital solutions that SMEs can adopt at three stages of growth:
Stage 1 gets SMEs started on their digitalisation journey, and lists the basic digital solutions that help to streamline operations and optimise the use of resources. Solutions that PCM companies can adopt include Workforce Management, Inventory Management and Project Management solutions.
Stage 2 provides solutions for SMEs that are ready to scale up their digitalisation efforts. These solutions enable them to leverage IoT and data analytics to enable better planning decisions, thereby optimising the use of resources, be it manpower or equipment. An example is the integrated inspection system, which employs sensors and cameras to enable remote inspections at multiple plant sites concurrently. This increases efficiency and reduces the need for on-site manpower.
Stage 3 identifies advanced technologies that SMEs can adopt to strengthen their competitive edge. For instance, robotic solutions can perform laborious and repetitive tasks such as blasting and painting, cleaning and disinfecting. This provides employees the opportunity to take on higher-value roles and reduce risk of workplace accidents.
Ms Esther Xu, Director for Marine & Offshore and Engineering Services, ESG said, “A highly skilled and productive PCM ecosystem contributes to Singapore’s ability to continue to attract, anchor and grow investments in key sectors like the Energy and Chemicals, Semiconductors and Pharmaceuticals. PCM companies need to embrace and master digitalisation, not just to drive higher productivity, but also to transform and offer new value propositions. The IDP serves as a guide for companies looking to kickstart their digital journey as well as take their digital transformation to the next level.”
Ms Catherine Chong, Director for SMEs Go Digital, IMDA, said, “To achieve sustainable development in the PCM sector, where niche skills and expertise are required in the day-to-day construction and maintenance of the production units, it is important for the industry to embrace digital tools and skills to increase labour productivity and develop improvement practices that comply with the industry’s stringent safety standards. The IDP, aligned with the objectives of the PCM Management Committee (PCMMC), will guide PCM companies to adopt suitable digital solutions and tap on complementary digital upskilling for their workforce to meet present and future business needs.”
Self-assessment tool and training roadmap
The IDP Digital Roadmap provides an online self-assessment checklist for SMEs to better understand their digital maturity and readiness, as well as identify gaps in their digital capabilities. The checklist takes into consideration factors such as the SME’s current business operations, level of digitalisation and business expansion plans, which is accessible at https://smedigitalisationstudy.experian.com.sg/self-assessment/process-construction-and-maintenance.
Continuous workforce upskilling is crucial to ensure employees remain relevant and support the SME’s digitalisation journey. The Digital Training Roadmap helps the industry equip their workforce with the necessary skills to become future ready. The training programmes listed are also aligned to the Skills Framework developed for the sector. SMEs can visit GoBusiness Gov Assist for the list of pre-approved solutions under the IDP that are supported by the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG).
 The Process Construction & Maintenance (PCM) industry consists primarily of SMEs, accounting for 98% of more than 500 companies in this space. They deliver reliable and efficient construction, maintenance and turnaround services to a range of process plants such as refineries, petrochemicals, pharmaceutical, water and semiconductor plants, which then utilise specialised equipment and machineries in their production processes.
 SMEs Go Digital, launched in April 2017, is a whole-of-government programme that aims to help SMEs use digital technologies, build strong digital capabilities and participate in the Digital Economy. More information can be found at www.imda.gov.sg/SMEsGoDigital.
 GoBusiness Gov Assist is a one-stop, centralised platform aimed at improving SMEs’ access to technology and digital solutions. SMEs can visit https://govassist.gobusiness.gov.sg/productivity-solutions-grant for more information.