The arrival of Industry 4.0 has brought many rapid technological advancements and new possibilities. On Malaysian shores, the phenomenon is expected to catalyse the growth of the manufacturing sector. However, the harsh reality is that the vast majority of our manufacturing is still at industry 2.5 at best.
Manufacturing is being transformed by digital technologies and rising volumes of data, which the entire sector needs to think and act differently. A narrow focus on what happens inside the factory will eventually slow digital transformation.
Episode 23 of the Top In Tech Series: Smart Manufacturing in Malaysia - Reality Check sought to gain insights on how smart manufacturing digitises businesses outside of the factory floor and ways to accelerate the country’s manufacturing industry even further. Hosted by Karamjit Singh, the guest panellists were Barry Leung, General Manager, SmartMore International, Rejab Sulaiman, Vice President, Products & Innovation, TM ONE and Dr Yeong Che Fai, Chairman, DF Automation & Robotics.
Malaysia’s manufacturing industry today
Rejab pointed out that many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia are involved in the manufacturing industry. However, what is clear is that the digital adoption in the SME sector is still low. There are still many improvements that need to be done for the country’s manufacturing industry to move into Industry 4.0.
Smart Manufacturing – An Investment for the Future
According to Barry, Malaysia’s technology infrastructure is advanced and mature. Nevertheless, there is a significant gap in adopting it.
From sourcing, procurement, processing, and manufacturing, to distribution, warehousing, customer service, and sales, smart manufacturing can help you to improve efficiency, increase throughput, reduce inventory, view processes, and address production bottlenecks in real-time.
Today’s top 3 business priorities are to improve their business resiliency, reduce uncertainty and ways to get better operational excellence in manufacturing. Regardless of economic slowdown and supply-chain disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time for businesses to consider smart-manufacturing initiatives to stay competitive.
“For now, the state of the industrial revolution of the manufacturing sectors of Malaysia is in between Industry 2.0 and 3.0. This is because there are still many people who are not aware of the potential on how digitalisation can streamline their businesses. 80% of businesses in Malaysia are still resistant to enter the smart manufacturing industry because they are either intimidated by financial or technical barriers,”said Dr Yeong.
Adopting Smart Manufacturing for local products
“When we talk about smart manufacturing, it is not all about robotics. It is also about streamlining the process in your factory. You are able to connect IoT sensors to your business. The goal of these sensor networks is to improve efficiency by providing detailed data on all aspects of the plant’s operations,” said Rejab.
Artificial Intelligence in manufacturing
Barry noted that, for manufacturers, AI promises to be a game-changer at every level of the value chain. In fact, the AI transformation in manufacturing is so profound that it’s already termed “Industry 4.0”, to denote the revolutionary essence of the connection of physical industrial assets with digital insights.
There are 3 steps to adopt AI in manufacturing which is to standardise the process, optimization and finally is to focus on the system and the strategies implemented. For businesses interested in smart manufacturing the good news is that they do not have to transition factories in one big leap. Small steps often lead to big wins.
“Smart Manufacturing may be a buzzword, but the technologies involved are driving transformational change in manufacturing companies in all sectors,”concluded Barry.
“Smart manufacturing is a continuous journey. The stakes are high to evolve production processes using advanced technologies and technology-savvy talent,”concluded Dr Yeong.
“Companies that take a strategic approach and continuously improve their operations with new smart factory initiatives will be best placed to respond to the needs of the market today and in the future,”concluded Rejab.
These are only some of the highlights from the episode. To find out more, watch the replay HERE.