Robotics production targeted

Robotics production targeted

New plan hopes to see output start by 2023

A woman controls a robot at a Science and Technology Ministry news conference earlier this month. Pawat Laopaisarntaksin
A woman controls a robot at a Science and Technology Ministry news conference earlier this month. Pawat Laopaisarntaksin

The Industry Ministry's robotics cluster has set an ambitious five-year target to produce robotics technology locally by 2023, citing interest from robotics manufacturers.

According to cluster committee chairman Djitt Laowattana, this goal can help cut reliance on imported robotics systems.

"The government has high expectations for the Industry 4.0 initiative to beef up investment in the robotics and automation sector as it aims to develop the country's manufacturing with higher technology," Mr Djitt said. "The robotics and automation sector is one of 10 targeted industries in the new S-curve group."

The Board of Investment offers incentives for robotics manufacturers such as a corporate income tax exemption for 3-8 years and an import duty exemption for new machinery and raw materials.

Existing companies can enjoy a 50% deduction on corporate income tax for three years when they invest and expand their local manufacturing plants with upgraded technology and machinery.

Japan's Nachi-Fujikoshi Corporation and Australia's Anca Manufacturing Thailand have expressed interest in investing because of the government's policies.

Mr Djitt, founder of the Institute of Field Robotics under King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, said the two companies are in talks with the government.

Anca is interested in further expansion at its existing plant in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Anca makes computerised numeric controls at Amata City Industrial Estate in Rayong.

Moreover, there are 30 companies in the robotics and automation sector, such as Panasonic, Universal Robot, OTC Daihen, ABB Robotics, Kuka Robotics, Yaskawa Motoman, True Robotics, Okura Yusoki and Gerenga Service.

These companies met with the government in 2017 to expressed their intention to invest in the EEC provinces, which include Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong.

The Industry Ministry forecasts that investment in the robotics and automation sector will reach 12 billion baht in 2018 as confidence builds among investors eyeing the EEC.

The ministry expects investment in the sector to reach 200 billion baht by 2023.

Mr Djitt said the government has already studied the potential market for robotics and automation systems and found that economies of scale are achieved at about 6,000 units per plant.

"This volume is sufficient to drive companies' performance to break even sooner," he said.

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