Singapore Has What It Takes To Be A World-Class RFID Hub

22 July 2005 - Speech By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information,Communications & the Arts At Opening of NOL-SUN Advanced Technology Centre, Alexandra Distripark.

Speech By Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information,Communications & the Arts At Opening of NOL-SUN Advanced Technology Centre on 22 July 2005, Alexandra Distripark.

Mr David Lim, Group President & CEO Neptune Orient Lines,
Mr Lionel Lim, President, Asia South, Sun Microsystems,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good Afternoon.

1. I am pleased to be here at the opening of the NOL-Sun Advanced Technology Centre, which is the first RFID test and compliance centre in South East Asia. I would like to congratulate NOL and Sun Microsystems for this collaborative venture to tap RFID technology to enhance the value-add of supply chain management.

From Barcodes to RFID

2. In today's globalised economy, the ability to track the movement of goods along the extended supply chain, whether it is semi-finished components enroute to a final assembly plant or finished goods going to customer in different parts of the world, is critical for efficient and competitive supply chain management. Currently, barcodes are widely employed to capture information on the movement of physical goods along supply chains. However, in recent times, there has been increased impetus for supply chain managers to adopt RFID technology to complement or replace barcodes. Walmart and the US Department of Defense are well-known examples of major organisations which have set mandates for their suppliers to adopt RFID tracking technology. RFID helps to drive operational efficiency and productivity gains in supply chains. According to AMR Research Inc1, early adopters of RFID tags have cut supply-chain costs by 3 to 5%, and have achieved 2 to 7% increase in revenue, thanks to the better inventory visibility provided by RFID tags.

3. RFID is not new to Singapore. From as early as 1998, the National Library Board (NLB) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have used RFID to manage libraries and the electronic road pricing system respectively. These pioneering projects had helped Singapore to grow RFID companies such as Tunity, Smartag and ST Logitrack which have succeeded in marketing their products and expertise in Asia, America, Europe and Middle East.

Building a Conducive Environment for RFID Development & Deployment

4. Recognising the huge potential of RFID, IDA announced in May 2004 that it would invest S$10 million in a three-year plan to promote the adoption and development of RFID.

5. One of the first things that IDA did was to quickly allocate frequency bands in the UHF range to align with international RFID standards. Without these regulatory adjustments, the use of RFID in the UHF frequency range, not to mention cross-border reading of RFID tags, would not have been possible. Hence, in November 2004, Singapore officially allocated the frequency bands in the UHF range, being the first Asian country to do so.

6. A favourable frequency environment is essential for the roll out of meaningful RFID applications which will benefit the industry. Given its importance, IDA is now going one step further to seek industry's views on how we can further improve our spectrum management for RFID development and deployment. I would like to invite you to participate actively in the study by giving IDA your feedback on the frequency and power limits for RFID applications.

Industry Investments in RFID

7. Besides the government, it is good to see that the industry is equally committed to develop their RFID capabilities and to adopt RFID technology to enhance the efficiency of their operations. Since last year, companies in Singapore have committed to invest more than S$30 million into technology development, infrastructure setup and adoption.

8. On the adoption front, companies such as Airbus, NTUC Fairprice, YCH and BaxGlobal have embraced RFID as a strategic tool to enhance competitiveness. The presence of many global manufacturing and logistics companies operating from Singapore provides us with a unique opportunity to serve as test-bed for state of the art RFID products and solutions.

Building a World-Class RFID Hub in Singapore

9. RFID can also be an important engine of growth for Singapore's infocomm industry. With world class RFID capabilities, a technology-savvy user base and an excellent infrastructure, Singapore has what it takes to be a significant player in developing and supplying world-class RFID solutions.

10. Already, we have seen some signs of a budding world-class RFID ecosystem developing in Singapore - from chips in the RFID tags to RFID solutions.

11. For the semiconductor chips that go into RFID tags, STMicroelectronics announced in March 2005 that it will shift its entire global production of RFID chips to Singapore.

12. A local company GT&T has developed a leading edge long range ultra low power RF technology, which is used by an Indonesian power company in an automatic meter reading solution to collect utility readings. GT&T has also signed on customers from Asia, Australia and Europe. Another homegrown company, Smartag, has supplied up to 10 million RFID tags to the National Library Board. It has established itself as a key partner not only to libraries worldwide but to logistics and cosmetic companies as well.

13. We can also expect more exciting RFID solutions from Singapore as IDA and A*STAR are currently working with some industry partners to develop EPC2 Generation 2 RFID readers, smart shelf and tamper-proof RFID tags for pharmaceutical and logistics applications.

14. Other home-grown companies such as Tunity, ST Logitrack, Autoscan and SmartID are similarly making their mark on the global RFID market, while Singapore-based MNCs such as Cisco Systems, HP, IBM, NEC and Sun Microsystems are also serving regional markets from Singapore.

15. These are just some examples of what Singapore can bring to the table. Together, the local and multinational RFID companies in Singapore are playing important roles on the regional development and deployment of RFID. This will bolster the development of Singapore as a world-class RFID hub.

NOL-Sun Advanced Technology Centre

16. NOL is in a unique position with regards to RFID as a user, and as we are witnessing today, a solutions provider. As a global logistics company, NOL can use RFID to provide added visibility and security to its complex network of supply chains. As a user, it is also well placed to provide insights into how RFID can be used to enhance supply chain competitiveness, and to satisfy customer requirements.

17. This Centre will not only help position Singapore as a leading RFID infrastructure provider. By providing value-added RFID services, it will also enhance Singapore's competitiveness as a global integrated logistics hub.


18.  This Centre is an important milestone in Singapore's development to become a world-class RFID hub. I would like to thank NOL and Sun Microsystems for their strong endorsement of our efforts in this direction.

19. IDA is committed to building a world class RFID industry in Singapore. We look forward to working closely with all industry partners to promote the success of RFID development and application from Singapore, and together make Singapore a world class RFID hub.

Thank you.


1 "ePC/RFID and Its Imminent Effect on the Supply Chain" by Peter Abell

2 EPC stands for Electronic Product Code.