The next industrial revolution is here and it is Industry 4.0. We take a dive into understanding what Industry 4.0 really is and why it is deemed the next big thing in manufacturing with the help of an industry expert, Advantech Co. Ltd
Industry 4.0 is the current buzzword in the manufacturing sector. But what exactly is Industry 4.0 and what are its benefits? We contacted Advantech Co. Ltd, a worldwide leader in embedded and automation solutions and also a strong proponent of Industry 4.0 to have a better understanding. We were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to speak with their Co-founder and Executive Director of Board himself, Mr Chaney Ho, to share his thoughts on Industry 4.0, Advantech, and the steps taken together with the challenges undertook to push Malaysia into adopting Industry 4.0.
What is Industry 4.0?
Industry 4.0 is the implementation of automation and data exchange for the ultimate goal of improving efficiency and productivity. With the internet, we now have something new, we can now connect all our machines in the cloud. This enables us to correct data more efficiently in the production and manufacturing environment that could lead to changes in the quality of the final product. So if you think about it, automation is what Industry 4.0 is centralised around and it serves as its foundation.
Moving forward, automation works together with machine connection, connecting all the different types of devices and machines in the production line. Connecting all the machines together allows us to retrieve product information in real-time, while in the past we don’t have access to such real-time data and we won’t know the status of the machines unless it’s checked manually. But with machine connection, everything is simplified and integrates together with the supply chain that allows for end to end production control.
Why is Industry 4.0 important, and why is it deemed the next industrial revolution?
The purpose of Industry 4.0 is to improve productivity and reduce wastage. It also addresses the main challenge of manufacturing, which is labour – labour shortages and the ever increasing cost of labour. We have to begin adopting robots and machines for automation. With this, we will be able to understand the status of each machine and processes in real-time. This means optimal productivity and lesser downtime.
Advantech has been actively encouraging the adoption of Industry 4.0 in Malaysia for the past few years. What does Advantech do?
Advantech has been providing trusted innovative embedded and automation products and solutions for more than 35 years. Advantech offers comprehensive system integration, hardware, software, customer-centric design services and global logistics support. Advantech also cooperates closely with partners to provide complete solutions for a wide array of applications for Industry 4.0, and is always determined to stay ahead with new concepts and innovation.
Why is it important for Malaysia to embrace Industry 4.0 and how does Advantech aim to facilitate its adoption?
The manufacturing sector of Malaysia is about 30% of its GDP, quite close to China, Taiwan and Korea. Malaysia relies heavily on manufacturing and there isn’t as much labour available here as compared to countries such as China. So the cost of labour is only increasing. This means automation is undeniably the logical way forward.
In Malaysia, Industry 4.0 is driven by MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry), and under MITI there will be a few government agencies that works directly with small industries. There’s also a challenge when it comes to SMEs as they might not be ready to transition into Industry 4.0, and this is also a key discussion between MIDA (Malaysian Investment Development Authority) and MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation) on how to help move SME’s into adopting Industry 4.0, which would help Malaysia get ahead of our neighbouring countries. We should make Malaysia more a more enticing destination for foreign manufacturers
Advantech actively collects all the pinpointed issues and challenges SMEs are facing so we can help provide solutions to the government, institute or market leaders. There may be other players such as Microsoft and Intel who can serve as a case study for the adoption of Industry 4.0. We are constantly looking for infrastructures that the government can leverage on to help SMEs who are facing a lot of challenges with their adoption. It’s still a long way to go for full adoption and it might take another 2 years.
Could you share with us some real life success stories of how organisations have benefited through Industry 4.0 via Advantech’s solutions?
We started to implement Industry 4.0 to one of our manufacturing plants in China in 2016. From gathering and comparing data from 2017 to 2016, Advantech’s Production Value per Employee has increased by 16.9% even when our Total Number of Employees had dropped by 2.2%. With an increase in Production Value by almost 17%, you can imagine how much benefit a large company like Advantech has gained from Industry 4.0.
The market pushes our prices down day by day, they’re always asking for lower costs, but how can we respond to those requests? We found the best way to do so was with Industry 4.0 to increase our productivity. Industry 4.0 also comes with other benefits like lower energy usage, and increased machine utilisation by means of predictive maintenance.
What do you foresee in the future of Industry 4.0?
AI (Artificial Intelligence) must be a service for the future of Industry 4.0, and as we speak it’s also an on-going project in Advantech. Why will AI be important for Industry 4.0? Probably you’ve heard of words like AI machine learning and deep learning, those are buzzwords in today’s industry environment. But why has AI become so popular now? There are a few reasons. Firstly we have access to massive amounts of data thanks to the internet, data from the social media, e-mails and e-commerce sites. Secondly is the rapid acceleration of computing power, which accelerates the AI’s capabilities in data processing. We believe AI is key to the future of Industry 4.0.
For more information on Industry 4.0 and Advantech, please visit www.advantech.com.my