Technology, A Catalyst for Productivity and Innovation

ISSUE #61 – The first educational institution in Singapore to leverage problem-based learning for all its diploma programmes, Republic Polytechnic (RP) has seven schools and one academic centre that offer forty-one diplomas in Applied Science, Engineering, Management and Communication, Events and Hospitality, Infocomm, Sports, Health & Leisure, and Technology for the Arts.


Republic Polytechnic’s (RP) new Supply Chain Innovation Lab is taking the lead to use innovation as the catalyst to push productivity for companies in Singapore.

The purpose-built facility is located at RP’s Industry Centre in Woodlands, north of Singapore, and provides integrated solutions for supply chain and logistics management. Equipped with the latest logistics technologies, the lab benefits RP students and adult learners by providing a realistic distribution centre environment for hands-on learning and skills training.

More importantly, the lab also presents SMEs with new opportunities to partner RP’s Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management (COI-SCM) to develop and testbed new logistics solutions and technologies to improve cost competitiveness, productivity and create new value for customers.

Jointly set up by SPRING Singapore, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and RP in 2012, COI-SCM is a one-stop centre that assists local companies and SMEs in enhancing productivity and efficiency at enterprise and industry levels through the refinement of supply chain processes and the adoption of technology. Since it commenced operations in 2012, the Centre has initiated more than 250 projects with Singapore-based companies across various industries.

“RP’s Supply Chain Innovation Lab provides new opportunities for applied learning and research. RP is well-placed to support the supply chain growth of the industry with the expertise of our Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management. The lab is a testament to our commitment to partner industries in training work-ready logistics professionals and enabling companies to strengthen their supply chain capabilities and raise productivity,” said Mr Yeo Li Pheow, Principal/Chief Executive Officer, Republic Polytechnic.

For the first time in Southeast Asia, an automated logistics setup featuring a driverless forklift working in tandem with an automatic picking system and robotic arm was unveiled in October 2015, at a live demonstration at the lab. A region’s first for an applied learning facility, the fully automatic forklift operates independently to lift and move palletised goods from one point to another within the facility. Coupled with the automatic picking system and robotic arm, it integrates the latest automated logistics solutions, simulating an integrated distribution centre for applied learning and research.

“Republic Polytechnic’s COI-SCM continues to be an important partner in the Singapore government’s efforts to develop and enhance supply chain management capabilities to meet the future needs of the logistics industry. By combining process optimisation methodologies with technology solutions such as robotics, automation and augmented reality, the new Supply Chain Innovation Lab will encourage more companies and logistics practitioners to adopt cost-effective and innovative business processes and solutions,” said Mr Lee Eng Keat, Director for Logistics and Natural Resources, Singapore Economic Development Board, at the Lab’s official launch on 12 October 2015.


In August 2016, The RP-McKinsey Lean Production and Services Laboratory was set up within the new Supply Chain Innovation Lab in collaboration with global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The lab was conceived in recognition that operational excellence and productivity improvements are increasingly important for operational and service companies. The importance and knowledge of appropriate methods and optimisation levers can be effectively taught within this lab environment, allowing participants to learn in a realistic, stable and risk-free environment, leveraging Lean methodologies for the systematic elimination of waste, and improving productivity.

“We are pleased to form a partnership with Republic Polytechnic to create a real-life factory setting for students and business leaders. In order to maintain economic growth, Singapore must increase its output per worker 2.6 times faster than its historic pace. To act on this productivity imperative, organisations need to rethink how they operate and derive value through lean management. Similar to our capability centres in Munich and Atlanta, the Productivity Lab will provide hands-on learning in lean management to help participants transform their operations to be more efficient. The lab underscores McKinsey’s commitment to bring the best of the Firm’s global expertise to Singapore,” said Mr Javier Vara, Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company.


Article by Dennis Quek, Director, Centre of Innovation for Supply Chain Management, Republic Polytechnic


Article published in the FOCUS Magazine “Principles of Productivity” – Issue #3 2016