Robotics, SI sector back procurement

Robotics, SI sector back procurement

Djitt Laowattana
Djitt Laowattana

Local robotics and system integrator (SI) producers are calling for the Industry Ministry's robotics cluster committee to propose the government add a procurement rule for its agencies to purchase Thai-made robotics and SI products to beef up local demand and attract further investment.

Prapin Abhinorasaeth, president of the Thai Automation and Robotics Association (TARA), said related operators want to propose this suggestion to the committee next month as they believe it can increase procurement demand from government agencies.

He said Thai and foreign investors want to invest in the robotics and SI sector in Thailand because the government has an ambitious policy to promote and support this cluster.

"TARA believes government procurement is a key engine to creating actual demand in the robotics and SI sector locally. This policy will also attract investors from abroad," he said.

Japan's Nachi-Fujikoshi Corporation and Australia's Anca Manufacturing Thailand are interested in robotic arms to serve both domestic and overseas markets.

The robotics cluster committee is jointly run by the government, private sector and educational institutes. The Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) under King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi has been targeted as an important centre for developing manpower and robotics.

Djitt Laowattana, FIBO's founder, said investment in robotics and the SI sector in Thailand is projected to reach 60 billion baht in 2018 thanks to the government's S-curve policy, as robotics is one of 10 targeted industries.

"That target can be reached as many foreign companies have expressed their intention to invest in robotics here, including those from China, Japan and Europe," he said.

Mr Djitt forecasts local demand for robotics and SI products at 6,000-6,500 units annually, a figure that will only grow with the government's Thailand 4.0 initiative, intended to upgrade the industrial sector with higher technology.

Somwang Boonrakcharoen, president of the Thai-German Institute, said Thailand's robotics and SI market needs 5,000 more technicians to serve this sector, with total employment in the Eastern Economic Corridor projected at 100,000 workers.

The government is working with many educational institutes in Thailand to produce the technicians needed to serve the robotics labour market.

There is also an ambitious five-year target for the robotics cluster to produce robotics technology locally by 2023. 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.

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.

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