THE process, construction and maintenance (PCM) sector - key to the support of the energy and chemicals sector in Singapore - is set to receive a boost with a productivity council being set up.

The council - which includes plant owners, contractors and the Association for Process Industry (ASPRI) - will look to improve management practices, and put in place certification systems to encourage companies to adopt productivity and safety measures.

It will also establish a centre of excellence to train PCM contractors that want to upgrade their maintenance processes.

The industry-led council was announced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan at a productivity roadshow on Wednesday.

"As the energy and chemicals sector continues to advance, as chemical plants seek higher energy efficiency, higher product yields and produce more complex products, their processes also become more complex," he said. "PCM companies will therefore need to constantly upgrade their capabilities to best serve their customers."

The productivity council will have three working groups, ASPRI told The Business Times.

One will support a new three-year benchmarking programme by the Construction Industry Institute, which will demonstrate the benefits of productivity improvement, while a second will be responsible for certification and a third will look at mechanisation initiatives. Each of these will be led by ExxonMobil, Shell and Singapore Refining Company (SRC) respectively.

This comes after the government formed the PCM management committee in 2013, comprising plant owners, contractors and government agencies to improve worker and project productivity.

Among the initiatives that have been announced as a result is a data- sharing portal that will be launched later this year, which would reduce overlaps in project scheduling, a common occurrence in the industry.

Another suggestion by the committee - a dormitory catering to workers in the PCM industry on and around Jurong Island - is also underway, with the tender having been awarded to a joint venture between Centurion Corp and Lian Beng Group.

The 7,900-bed foreign worker accommodation and training centre in Jurong East will be completed in the middle of next year.

At the roadshow on Wednesday, SRC demonstrated new automatic tools that have made its plant maintenance process more productive. These helped it to cut down the time spent by 40 per cent, or 52,000 man- hours, SRC said.

The firm invested S$1.2 million in a compressed air system in its plant to allow contractors to use pneumatic tools, which shortened the set-up time required and improved productivity.