Major smart factory requirements in Thailand
Source: Prasanth Aby Thomas, Consultant Editor
Growth of smart factories in Thailand will largely be driven by productivity gains. According to experts, this means an incremental gain of US$45-50 billion from additional revenue streams through new products and quality improvements as well as lower cost as manufacturers adopt Industry 4.0 technologies.
“As such, customers want solution providers to overcome implementation difficulty,” said Vuttipong Vongsankakorn, Industry Marketing Manager at OMRON Thailand
. “It is to migrate their (semi-)manual production (machines) line into their existing production with viable investment. Therefore, OMRON believes it is critical for solution providers to ‘co-create’ solutions with each of its customers to solve an infinite variety of their production challenges.”
The need for more data
According to the research, manufacturers experience up to 800 hours of unscheduled downtime annually due to operational complexity, paperwork constraints on the shop floor, human error and machine availability.
The industry also wishes to shift to higher value-added manufacturing. Most Thai manufacturers lack real-time visibility into machines, assets, and shopfloor production data. This limits their ability to make data-driven decisions in order to reduce waste, improve production processes and increase productivity including logistics management.
“As companies continue to invest in hardware, software, and IT services, they will need to harness the large and growing amounts of existing data that is necessary as a basis for highly efficient production,” explained Joseph Ngo Hong, Managing Director at Bosch Thailand
. “Smart manufacturing enabled by IoT ultimately offers customers significant value-added services. The flow of data, on available materials production performance, for example, helps manufacturers lower their inventory costs, workflow disruptions and reduce the overall amount of capital required to run their business.”
This is demonstrated in Bosch’s new smart factory in Thailand, which utilizes connected solutions to identify opportunities for automating manufacturing operations and to use data analytics to improve the overall performance of the manufacturing process within a framework that supports Industry 4.0.
However, Hong added that they will need to continuously adapt to keep up with a constantly and rapidly changing digital landscape. This is only the beginning as more powerful networks with the ability to rapidly process vast amounts of information
are being introduced faster than ever before - inevitably shifting the technological landscape and norm further.
“The benefits reaped through these technologies are exponential. It not only makes our daily lives easier, more comfortable, and safer, it also lowers costs for manufacturers or businesses to produce products with efficiency, profitability and with environmental protection and resource conservation in mind,” Hong concluded.
Joyce Yeh, Deputy Director at the International Sales and Marketing Division of ICP DAS which has seen a dramatic increase in growth in Thailand over the last year, added that predictive maintenance, for instance, is a major requirement.
“They want to know the vibration rate of the machine, current, or the temperature of the machine,” Yeh said. “These three factors are critical for them to get actionable data for predictive maintenance purpose.”
Need for customization
Others suggest that customization is a major requirement. Demand in emerging economies can, at times, fluctuate depending on macroeconomic and political conditions. Smart factory customers would want solutions that can adapt to changes.
“Much like the rest of the world, Thailand’s manufacturing sector is witnessing increased demand for more customized products,” said Chaiyot Piyawannarat, Country Managing Director at ABB
. “This is true for everything from the F&B industry to apparel and even automotive. To adapt to this shifting environment, customers require more flexibility in their manufacturing process and greater agility to launch a wider range of new products.”
Smart technologies like automation, IIoT, robotics, and digitalization are key to achieving this. However, a major challenge in this regard is that SMEs are often not able to access such technology. This is where the government can play a key role in fostering long-term sustainable growth for the industry.