Mitsubishi Electric says Thailand key to e-factory strategy

Mitsubishi Electric says Thailand key to e-factory strategy

Mr Matsushita says the company is introducing new business models to match the Thailand 4.0 initiative and EEC scheme. Pitsinee Jitpleecheep
Mr Matsushita says the company is introducing new business models to match the Thailand 4.0 initiative and EEC scheme. Pitsinee Jitpleecheep

Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corporation vows to aggressively pursue new business opportunities for driverless vehicles and factory automation technology in Thailand.

This marks a new chapter in the company's business as Thailand's automotive industry and industrialisation adapt.

Hitoshi Namba, general manager for Asian business development and industrial product marketing, said the company plans to tap into factory automation here, particularly through its e-factory concept for industries that have production processes that are largely manual.

The e-factory concept extracts hidden benefits from existing resources through integrated automation to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and increase productivity. Mitsubishi Electric is the world's leading industrial automation supplier.

The company intends to showcase its e-factory model line in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which covers Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces.

"There are 7,000 factories in Thailand that can benefit from the e-factory solution," he said.

Only 10 Japanese factories in Thailand have adopted the company's e-factory concept in the fields of automotive, electrical and electronics, meaning there is potential for growth, said Mr Namba.

"Thailand will hold the key to Mitsubishi Electric's ambition to become a global player in factory automation system business in the future," he said. Thailand's factory automation business is estimated to be worth 5-6 billion baht a year, said Mr Namba.

With the expansion of Mitsubishi's e-factory scheme, the company hopes to increase its market share for factory automation to 50%, on par with its share in the Japanese market, up from 30% now.

"In Thailand, the brand has been associated with white goods such as air conditioners and refrigerators for 55 years. We want to expand our image to include upstream industrial sectors," he said.

Satoshi Matsushita, president for global strategic planning and marketing, said it will focus on Thailand's automotive industry because it is one of the world's leading auto production hubs.

For instance, he said the company will offer technology that supports autonomous driving such as mobile mapping systems, GPS positioning devices, laser scanners and an energy storage system.

Thailand is crucial for the company as the country is the world's largest manufacturer of Mitsubishi air conditioner and lifts. The country also tallies the largest sales of Mitsubishi products in Asean, said Mr Matsushita.

"In addition to reinforcing our existing business foundation, know-how, and market presence in Thailand, we are also introducing new business models to fit into Thailand 4.0 initiatives and the EEC scheme," he said.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has 11 subsidiaries in Thailand, six of which are factories, three sales companies, one corporate office and one finance company.

The group reported total sales of 135 billion baht in fiscal 2018 ending March 31, 2019, a 7% increase year-on-year. Core product lines in Thailand include air conditioners, both for the domestic market and exports, and auto parts for export.

Mr Matsushita said the company plans to fully leverage its strengths through collaboration inside and outside of Mitsubishi Electric group.

"We can evolve technology and business synergies that lead to contributions from innovation and help create a sustainable society," he said.

The company hopes the expansion plans will increase Mitsubishi Electric's Asean sales, outstripping those of Europe, North America and Asia.

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