The increasing speed of the connectivity, growing intelligence of computer hardware and increased efficiency of manufacturing processes is beneficial for the consumer and manufacturer.
It means the lives of the human race are further enriched by new technologies that provide new dimensions of products and services which were not possible before.
The advent of such technology should not be feared or rejected – however, the structured development and governance of such technologies are key to spur a transition from a labour intensive economy, to an economy that is based on a critical mass of talent that is well versed in technology.
Within the automotive industry, MAI has executed Industry 4.0 programs since 2014, through the MAI Intelligent Technology Systems (MITS) initiative.
MITS provides the local industry with the necessary infrastructure and technology foundations in ensuring timely developmental goals in line with Industry 4.0. It is housed in MAI’s headquarters as well as centres of excellence – the MAI Design Center (MAIDC), the MAI Resource Centre (MAIRC) and National Emissions Test Centre (NETC).
With more than 500 companies utilising and benefiting from the MITS initiative, we have learned that the development of smart mobility applications should start with a strong foundation in the areas of Advanced Manufacturing and Advanced IT.
The two areas above manifest through deployment of Robotics and utilisation of the Internet of Things (IoT).
They are integrated to create a manufacturing and service ecosystem that allows mass customisation, and also has the wisdom to gather data and information in order to operate autonomously.
The mastery of the disciplines above form a holistic system – which is an intelligent, data driven, accurate and cost effective solution to fulfil customer demands, and to ensure that businesses can adapt to future technology.
Furthermore, technology investments are long term investments. In order to ensure investor confidence in maintaining long term commitment to industry development, it must be smartly procured through sound business models and talent development.
The International Federation of Robotics forecasts a USD70b market size for the robotics sector by the year 2025. McKinsey Global Institute forecasts a global IoT value between USD3.9 to USD11.1 trillion within the same timeframe.
These trends demonstrate the importance of Industry 4.0 readiness – competitiveness of businesses will depend highly on new industrial technologies and data driven product strategies.
For example – in today’s vehicles, sensors in a car’s engine system are already logging engine operating conditions, vehicle usage and driver input through the vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU).
A simple device, connected to the cloud, would allow data from millions of vehicles on the road to be used by car manufacturers, government regulators, safety engineers, or even environmental conservation experts to create safer and more efficient engines.
Each car can now be customised at the factory, using smart autonomous robots that produce customised engines, each tuned to the needs of the specific customer. This means each product on the road is optimised for performance, fuel efficiency and safety of individual drivers, and not based on blanket specifications at a macro level.
If such intelligence can be expanded to each component of the vehicle, the potential benefits of mass customisation will be limitless.
More importantly, the application of robotics and IoT is not limited to smart mobility and manufacturing only.
They are applicable in many other industries, including aerospace, agriculture, healthcare, oil & gas, and defence.
The recent announcement of Industry4WRD is an important step in ensuring the alignment between industry, government and academia takes place – to ensure the necessary regulations, business structure, talent pool and eco-systemic mindset moves beyond Industry 4.0 compliance, and allows the nation to thrive within it.
A cross-sectoral alignment to the above is key to maximise the benefits of smart mobility, robotics, IoT and the full breadth and depth of Industry 4.0 elements. Each industry provides its own angle to the business and talent development within the transition to an advanced, technology based economy.
With co-ordinated governance and business strategy development, perhaps the massive challenges we face in order to move to the next phase, will not be as burdensome after all.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute