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(14-12-2011, 12:00 PM)corydorus Wrote: [ -> ]
(14-12-2011, 08:53 AM)yeokiwi Wrote: [ -> ]
(14-12-2011, 08:00 AM)Drizzt Wrote: [ -> ]there is so little investment in the engineering front. engineering expertise and innovation is soo important to nation from defence and commercial point of view. look at important companies such as nokia and erikson being a cornerstone for first world nations like finland and sweden. we are taking it the wrong way.

I was talking to a Swedish recently and I was quite amazed by their engineering capabilities.
For a 9 million population, they are able to build submarines(hey, we bought the submarines from Kockums) and Grippen fighter jets. One of the largest engineering companies ABB is a merger of a swedish and swiss companies.

In the commercial front, they have IKEA, Ericsson, volvo, saab, Electrolux.

Lastly, the nobel prizes were established by a swedish, Alfred Nobel.

There is no short cut to engineering. You cannot have innovation with managers. The Swiss neither need triangle to do this.

The problem is traditionally people valued Manager higher than Technicals. And they cannot stand highly paid people laying around playing with gadgets during working time for a long time with a ECO system from engineers to development to scientists.

Without it. We cannot build good planes. Neither will we have a culture to have a team like Apples.

Since Singapore is led by GLC, and SME growths are pressed down by them locally. The GLC has to be radically change to do them proper.


I believe you have correctly identified one of the key problem locally. For someone who's passionate about R&D, it's not as rewarding (in $$ terms) unless they become managers, who usually loses touch with the real hands-on stuff of R&D as they have to spend most of their time and energies on schedules, meetings, reports,...etc.

The other key problem locally is the reward system is highly skewed towards the Sales and Mktg. These people usually gets the main credit (plus monetary rewards) for any successful products launched. BUT, should any product issues crop up (be it design related or quality related), guess who gets the blame and have to work overtime to resolve it (with the Sales & Mktg people banging the table). The hands-on Engineers, of course! So, it's no wonder you see many of the local best and brightest hands-on Engineers switch to the more "rewarding" ($$) jobs after a while.

In US, Europe and even Asian countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan, that's not usually the case. Hands-on engineers can have a separate and rewarding ($$) career path and continue on to become respected experts in their field. When technical problems happen (worst case when product already hit the market), everyone work together to resolve it (finger pointing comes later after it's resolved). The Sales & Mktg focusses on maintaining the PR aspects to minimise damages while the Engineers work hard to resolve it.

The culture here is not going to change any time soon unless the top decision makers (CEOs in Private Sectors or Bureaucrats in Public Sectors) do a major paradigm shift. Many of these decision makers don't even come from an Engineering background or even if they do, most likely, they rose from the Sales & Mktg path (w/o any hands on dirty job experience). In the public sector, I believe many of these were govt scholars, who'd never ever gotten their hands dirty and likely having at least a double 1st Class Hons Engineering + MBA/Accounting degree to help them become key decision makers. So, to borrow a phrase (I anyhow translate), "How are you going to understand what the common people meant by suffering if you'd never ever been poor?"

When I was at Ericsson in Sweden, the managers respect the engineers who are doing the real job. And their bosses know that too, often they join the engineers tea break and mingle around, so the managers have to show value add not by attending meetings, preparing budgets, pushing papers etc. They have to really value add in managing the limited resources in the project, and that includes people who can really do the work. This culture is NOT PRESENT AT ALL in Singapore.

Furthermore, due to the socialist-oriented society, the senior manager's pay is not very far from say a senior administrative staff. Taking higher tax brackets into consideration, their pays can be almost identical! This relatively flat pay structure will not de-motivate people from not wanting o move up. In fact, what I witnessed was people with genuine passion to do technical work are doing it, and are equally if not more respected in the field. I suppose other Nordic, or even European countries would have similar culture. Perhaps UK and US as well.

Those were what I experienced more than 10 years ago. I told myself and my colleagues then that Singapore has to be given time to evolve. But sad to say, so far still in third world mentality mode.
sad to tell u though both are 's'. singapore will never be able to be like sweden.
10 years ago in 2001 this time, i was also living in sweden and i can appreciate what u said.
Think a picture says a thousand words.

This is what Sweden is capable of. Totally locally made.
Avionics, design, manufacturing, electronics and countermeasures.
Of cos I wouldn't deny some parts are shared and borrowed with her NATO partners but you get my drift..

[Image: 800px-Saab_JAS_39_Gripen_Czech_Air_Force.jpg]

[Image: 800px-Gotland_DN-SD-06-07476.JPEG]

[Image: 800px-Strv_103c_a.jpg]

[Image: 800px-HMS_Helsingborg_2.jpg]

Sorry too good an opportunity to miss for posting up military hardwares. Heehee Big Grin
With fond memories, I build some of the signal processing functions inside this thing:[Image: image.img.png]
Quote:For the Electronics Industry, one of the earlier stength of local companies was in CEM (Contract Electronics Manufacturing) and Precision Engineering. Many of the local listed cos. were subsequently acquired by the giants in the industry. I think amongst the bigger local CEMs, only Venture is left. But, with the ever tightening margins, I think the Venture owners must be kicking themselves for not having gotten out during the cycle's peaks.

The govt. here through NSTB, EDB and also Temasek had tried their hands at various times to grow/upgrade the Electronics Industries. Unfortunately, these establishments do not appear to have the right experienced technocrats in charge and we witness the many failures eg. Temasek investing in Micropolis (write-off of >$1Bil within a couple of years), CSM (in the red for most of it's life but now gladly sold off),... EDB + NSTB also provides lots of funding and tax incentives to MNCs to relocate their R&Ds here. But, unwittingly (or too trusting of the MNCs), they'd been funding many end-of-life products disguised as R&D transfers eg. Toshiba transferring their whole VCR operations (R&D + Manufacturing) to Singapore when everyone knew that it was going EOL (End-of-Life) and being replaced by DVD Players back then, HP transferring their Pocket PC R&D here, Thomson and Philips transferring CRT CTV R&D here when the whole world was switching to PDP/LCD TVs,... etc. These MNCs, be it US, European or Japanese are most unlikely going to transfer any real R&D (whatever is transferred here are matured products and local Engineers only do simple modifications to launch new models till they EOL) and break their own rice bowls (their Engineer Unions are quite powerful to prevent any transfers).

Local companies on the other hand finds it hard to get the EDB/NSTB fundings. Many gave up and either relocate or die a natural death. Many local R&D Engineers either relocate to more pro-R&D countries like USA Silicon Valley or gave up and switch to Sales & Mktg (better pay and prospects) or other lines.

IMO, if the govt really wants to support the Electronics Industry, they have to move up the food chain to higher value added stuff like R&D (I believe they correctly identified this but so far, had not been very successful in their execution for the past decades). They could follow the Taiwan model. Their govt funds a huge R&D centre (ITRI ERSO) which does real cutting edge R&Ds. Their private sectors are able to tap on the IPs of ITRI ERSO and that's why you see many successful start-ups in Taiwan and of these, some managed to grow to world beaters.

The above are what I'd gathered 15-20 years back but I don't think the landscape had changed that much.

Hi KopiKat,

I think you have got to be an insider in this sector to have such good industry knowledge. Thank you very much for sharing.

EDB tried hard to save the Electronics industry. On hindsight, one thing they could have done better was to allocate more funds to local companies rather than the foreign MNCs. It is no secret in this industry that it is easier for big foreign MNCs to get grants from EDB than Singaporean companies. This is not surprising because EDB officers have a better chance of hitting their KPIs when they throw money at the bigger-sized companies than the fledgling Singaporean SMEs. You throw, I grab.

Did the foreign MNCs deliver on their side of the deal? As you have pointed out, the foreign MNCs transferred dying technology like VCRs, Cathode-ray TV to Singapore. The result is that several of our engineers spent their prime years honing their skills on dying technology. After they are retrenched, they will have a serious problem finding equally paying jobs.

To move up the value chain and do high-tech stuff, Singapore has to grow its own timbre and not rely on foreign companies. We have to grow our own Apple. The most high-value work will always be done at home. Do not expect foreigners to pass on their most high-value important work to outsiders. Don't expect the Kungfu Master to teach all he knows to his disciples. There will always be this fear that the disciple will usurp the Master's throne.

It is a pity I see so many bright Singaporean engineers being underutilized doing work like technical support and testing. They should be doing R&D work developing the next product that will make the world a better place. The foreign MNCs do not mind the wastage. Why? Because EDB is partially paying for the salaries of these engineers. Most engineers working in the Electronics industry will have their salary partially funded by EDB at one point of their career.
Hi KopiKat,

Thanks for sharing! What's your view on precision engineering companies like Amtek and Innotek?
Do they have the potential to do well?
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