This week, we speak to ME6 Francis Lin, G5/Head Plans, and concurrently the Head Army Innovation Branch (Hd Innovation Br) at Headquarters Combat Service Support Command (HQ CSSCOM). Of note, ME6 Francis spearheaded the collaboration between CSSCOM and Lazada Singapore to offer selected SAF eMart products for purchase on Lazada’s e-commerce platform. Most recently, on 26 April, he was awarded the MINDEF Star Service Award (Leader) for his service excellence and innovation efforts in the Army and CSSCOM.
Could you describe your experiences working with the different Divisions/Formations in the Army Innovation Committee?
Working with the different Army Divisions and Formations is both meaningful and fulfilling. Our office receives diverse problem sets from them, and our objective is to bring good ideas to life. We act as a conduit between the problems and solutions, value-adding by partnering with relevant institutes and industries to test new ideas to derive potential solutions. In fact, we also own a 3D printing facility in HQ Maintenance and Engineering Support (MES), allowing us to support the rapid prototyping of ideas!
Some notable Army innovation projects include the Smart Store, which allows personnel to draw equipment and weapons by scanning their 11B and using their biometrics for authentication, Self-Administered BMI, which enables personnel to submit their BMI readings online; Solar Light Pipe, which amplifies natural sunlight to illuminate premises in the SAFDB, our UAV and UGV delivery system which allows for more efficient delivery of equipment and supplies.
With the Smart Store, store accounting will be automated, and servicemen and women will also be able to draw equipment and weapons by scanning their 11B and biometrics for digital authentication
Self-Administered BMI (SA-BMI) is an initiative started by the Army PERSCOM, which is now implemented across the SAF.
Since 2014, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has been using 3D printing to push the boundaries of innovation and productivity. Through Additive Manufacturing, innovative ideas were realised in a timely and cost-efficient fashion through rapid prototyping
What are some key differences between Top-Down innovations and Bottom-Up Innovations?
Top-down innovations happen when our commanders share ideas for us to pursue. Some examples include the trial of unmanned aerial vehicles, which require more resources in terms of budget and manpower. Bottom-up innovations are ideas that originate from our soldiers. A good example would be the “practice grenades” that we use for training during Basic Military Training (BMT). The older generation will remember how we filled small bottles with sand and blue-taped it. Thereafter, to use these “practice grenades” during training. Through partnerships with various agencies and further research, this has since evolved towards a 3D-printed device with sound, making the entire training much more realistic for our soldiers.
Simulated ammunition like the e-Grenade and e-Claymore are electronic models of real ammunition with no explosive content. It allows safer yet realistic training as the Simulated Ammunition has the same weight, set-up process and trigger mechanisms as the real ammunition.
As part of the SAFDB’s efforts to reduce carbon footprint, Solar Light Pipe Systems are used. They amplify natural sunlight to illuminate premises in the SAFDB, such as the multi-purpose hall.
How does the Army Innovation Office facilitate units in their innovation journey?
Our Army has committed the resources as well as strong leadership emphasis towards innovation and operationalising digital solutions.
To facilitate units in their innovation journey, we have also streamlined and provided templates to aid in the approval of requirements. As a result, it can be as straightforward as an email submission! Ultimately, CSSCOM recognises that innovation is an operational capability to do more with less, and we aim to be the key partner in the Army to enable innovation.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in action, performing aerial resupply for troops during operations. Trials have shown that the UAV reduces delivery times and distance to cover.
The Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) can transport a high quantity of heavy loads, such as water, ration, ammunition, equipment and medical supplies.
What do you hope for the future of innovation efforts in the Army?
We first need to recognise that innovation is not difficult at all. We just need to be discontented with the status quo and, more importantly, take action to drive changes! My office is always looking to provide better platforms to allow everyone to contribute and share their ideas. Innovation is an important operational capability that sets us apart!
✍️ : LCP Teo Ze Xuan (Army News)
📷 : LCP Teo Ze Xuan, CPL Chong Boon How, CPL Bryan Lee and CPL David Goh (Army News)