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Smart manufacturing is a must for SMEs

  • Panellists at Smart Manufacturing webinar share insights on gearing for i4.0
  • Never a company-wide transition but step-by-step, from planning to execution

Smart manufacturing is a must for SMEsThe pandemic has fastened the requirements and acceptance of businesses in stepping towards industry 4.0. Big data, cloud analysis and process automation are the core to achieve production excellence, said panelists during a smart manufacturing webinar held on Oct 14th that was hosted by Taiwan Excellence, the symbol of Taiwan’s most innovative products.

Panellists shared valuable insights on the prominence of smart manufacturing in gearing towards the industry 4.0 revolution during the “Smart Manufacturing: Driving Agility” webinar. The panelist includes two frequent winners of the Taiwan Excellence award – Advantech Sdn Bhd from Malaysia and Hiwin Singapore Pte Ltd – as well as R.Narayanan, Country Managing Director of ABB Malaysia. The event was moderated by Karamjit Singh from Digital News Asia.

Driving Agility in Smart Manufacturing

The discussion started with the heart of the topic: how one defines the concept of driving agility under the umbrella of smart manufacturing. Ryan Lai, ASEAN Business Development Manager of Advantech, mentioned that agility promotes operational excellence. With many factories still in industry 2.0 phase, it is a journey for them to transition to industry 4.0; one that requires clear direction and goals to work towards. He also opined that the transition would be taken step-by-step, from planning to execution.

“Depending on how that particular factory is, it is never a company-wide transition, but rather something to be taken in steps,” concurred Narayanan.

The ABB executive also shared about how agility is a subset of manufacturing, changing production concept based on market demand. Citing the current food and beverage industry, he explained how products have various types of packaging, colour, and flavour. This is where agility comes in, showing how quickly the factories manage to switch manufacturing capabilities to meet demand. This shows how industry 4.0 technologies can help enable such agility.

Transformation Towards Industry 4.0 – An Investment for the Future

During the webinar, panellists highlighted that one of greatest challenges within Malaysia’s manufacturing industry is its slowness in adapting to change.

Tean Shen Zen, Sales Manager (MY & IND) of Hiwin brought up that, in order to transform towards industry 4.0, many old traditional ways have to be forgone. With many technologies already in place, business owners themselves would have to have the determination to make the bold move.

Ryan added that when the pandemic hit, many people started looking into transforming their businesses by incorporating new technologies. With a large number of businesses in Malaysia being unfamiliar with Industry 4.0, a common misconception is that the transformation process comes with a hefty price and little return. However, the pandemic has forced many SMEs to realize that these technologies are needed in order weather future disruptions, increase productivity and help their businesses to grow.

One with Humans & Machines

Another challenge faced by the industry is the concern over job security as a result of the imminent industrial revolution. Narayanan explained that automation aims to eliminate monotonous and dangerous jobs; and that employment will still be available as people are required to operate the robots.

Besides that, Tean added that the industry moving forward won’t wipe out jobs, rather it will increase individuals’ skill set as new roles will be created in order to manage the machines. He shared how many of their customers are currently facing the issue of insufficient robot operators. It is a gap the industry has to fill up for this generation.

When talking about older workers, Tean added that they won’t be eliminated because they are the pioneers with all the know-how. Although process can be replaced by machines, the knowledge held by older workers is irreplaceable. Rather, they will act as teachers for the future generation.

These are only some of the highlights from the webinar. To find out more, watch the replay here: https://www.facebook.com/TaiwanExcellence.MY/videos/1118091932056033


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