Industry 4.0 gives manufacturing a lift

Industry 4.0 gives manufacturing a lift

For Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungraeangkit, the worst of the pandemic gloom seems to be over for the Thai manufacturing sector. The industrial sector has rebounded, with a month-on-month growth in the Manufacturing Production Index (MPI) since June this year.

As the economy undergoes a post-pandemic recovery and domestic activities gradually begin to pick up speed, the manufacturing industry in Thailand is looking to Industry 4.0 to boost the industrial sector. Moving away from traditional assembly lines that require humans to perform repetitive tasks, organisations are developing smarter machines equipped with the ability to operate seamlessly without a human presence.

Quick access to a wide range of technologies and reliable products from leading brands and the effective implementation of procurement and inventory solutions will help the manufacturing sector adopt and integrate I4.0 effectively to stay ahead.

A data-driven future for Thailand's manufacturing sector

Globally, we can expect to see more than 75 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices installed by 2025, some of which we are already using on a daily basis, from basic household appliances like smart televisions to keyless entries into our homes. The Thai IoT market is expected to reach US$2.19 billion (about 68.3 billion baht) by 2030, the highest among Asean countries in corporate IoT implementation. Combined with the arrival of 5G, big promises are ahead for this new and thriving industrial revolution.

The power of Industry 4.0 brings a range of capabilities that will help drive the Thai manufacturing sector in ways we never imagined possible. Just as the Internet of Things (IoT) has formed a digital ecosystem within our everyday lives, Industry 4.0 is set to transform manufacturing businesses in the country. It will bring solutions that enable efficiency in production, while saving companies chunks of operational costs by eliminating irrelevant or redundant intermediaries.

One example of this is in the area of predictive maintenance -- implementing smart sensors in production line machinery which will enable alerts and reminders to be sent out long before a problem occurs. These sensors, which rely on data, will be able to provide accurate diagnoses and prompt the person in charge to ensure appropriate measures are taken to reduce (possibly even eliminate) production downtime. As a result, routine maintenance which is traditionally performed based on assumption of wear and tear, is better managed.

Implementing Industry 4.0 in organisations of all sizes

The rise of digital transformation and the availability of supply chain management solutions that have been gradually improving in recent years have saved the manufacturing industry. How organisations choose to take advantage of these opportunities will determine how quickly they bounce back and thrive.

Decision-makers must proactively decide to take the lead and explore new territories in this environment. How can businesses transform their operations to realise the efficiency benefits without being overwhelmed by costs and complexity? The key considerations are around quality, efficiency, cost, and ease of implementation.

Larger organisations may have an advantage over smaller businesses and SMEs, simply because they can leverage on a pool of resources to invest in new systems which enable necessary processes to be put in place. However, SMEs will be at the winning end if they integrate Industry 4.0 into their business, accelerating the process of adoption due to a typically more agile workplace culture.

Manufacturers can also progress quickly with their digital transformation journey by partnering with distributors and sourcing solutions providers who can ensure reliable access to Industry 4.0 technologies and parts. In the manufacturing industry, regardless of the size of your organisation, reducing risk and saving time by having the capability to search and order products online easily and leverage sourcing solutions for those with complex requirements or limited sourcing capabilities, contributes to a business' bottom line.

Accelerating adoption and implementation

The truth is that this concept of Industry 4.0 isn't foreign to Thai manufacturers. The Asian Business Report reveals that much emphasis has already been placed on vocational training in the country, with a focus on skills needed for the future. There are job-ready candidates prepared to innovate and grow their skills alongside smarter machines.

Being the largest economy in Thailand, the manufacturing industry has the advantage of maximising IoT solutions. As IoT gains popularity in Thailand and the world, it will also become more affordable. The global IoT industry is projected to have an economic impact of $11 trillion by 2025, with remote monitoring, performed maintenance, and asset tracking being key uses of this technology.

So what can businesses do? Regardless of size, approaching it with the right mindset is key. While all businesses can and should adopt Industry 4.0 on different levels and capabilities, having the right approach and willingness to change the ways of working will be a big factor to ensuring its success.

The consistent growth of Industry 4.0 will continue to impact manufacturing industries around the world. The pandemic has been a global platform for industries to implement what they have always planned. As the economy recovers and businesses look toward an uphill trend on the growth chart, they can be assured that with the right mindset and adoption strategy, these businesses will scale new heights.

Kanyathorn Poglad is Country General Manager, Thailand, RS Components.

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