Industry transformation map wins support of maritime companies

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.