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Smart Lean Thinking in Embracing Fourth Industrial Revolution

Smart Lean Thinking in Embracing Fourth Industrial Revolution


Lean Production System and Lean Manufacturing are some terminologies that originated from an automotive company – Toyota with their worldwide accepted and recognized Toyota Production System (TPS). This system has been successfully implemented not only in automotive but in government organization, food industry and many more.

Many automotive companies have been reaping the benefit of an established Lean Production System. However, it is time for companies or organizations to go back to the root cause of the success of the real LPS, which is their “TALENTS and HUMAN INTELLIGENCE” through their Lean Thinking values and skills.

Talents with embedded Lean Thinking values and skills are valuable assets to any company or organization. They will be able to work efficiently and provide a lean working environment. Industry 4.0 needs these talents as they are capable to work with less resources and understand the objectives of their work which is to satisfy their customers – be it their boss, the next user or the end user of their manufactured products.

Lean Thinker Talents are able to work by eliminating wastes that exist in their working environment. Lean Thinker Talents, for example, design a product not only as required by the customer specifications but, will also include sustainable design that focuses on the usage of recyclable materials, standardized components and processes.

Lean Thinker Talents will ensure their works are not in the seven waste categories – not over processed, not over produced; not requires a lot of resources or inventories; rapidly produced with less or no waiting time, non-unnecessary movements or motions in producing error free works or non-defects products that does not jeopardize their own safety as well as everyone in their product value chain.

Industry 4.0 is all about smart factory; smart processes ; smart systems, smart materials and thus can only survive by smart lean talents who are ready to face and embark the new technologies with open mind and ready to challenge themselves positively. Malaysia’s higher education sector through the Ministry of Higher Education has been gearing up to prepare Industry 4.0 ready academicians, researchers and the students through various initiatives, especially in supporting industries.

The Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia welcomes any industrial related researches and programmes suitable with 2018 mandate,  themed “Higher Education 4.0: Knowledge, Industry and Humanity” from Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh focusing on embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) as part of the call to revamp the Malaysian higher education system.

In moving forward and to address the challenges of Industry 4.0, is to have the industry and the academia act as one to fulfil industry and graduate needs. This could be continued with existing initiatives introduced by the ministry, such as Public- Private Research Network or PPRN, 2u2i, APEL and CEO@Faculty programs besides existing grants opportunities that should be focusing more on industrial oriented research.

Demand –Driven Innovation Project by Public-Private Research Network or PPRN Grant, is an initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia; as one of the strategies to close the technological knowledge gap, increase productivity and strengthen Malaysian economic development through innovation and commercialization programs.

However, there is still improvement that can be done in the approval of grant. The process should be agreed 100% by the industries as this grant requires certain percentage of contribution from the industries.

The selection of the researchers should not be based only on the committee of academia, but must be based on the industries choice and approval. This is because some industries like automotive, health care and aerospace requires precise solutions due to the higher specifications set by the regulations and customers.  The academia involved in this project must prioritize the on-time completion as the industry need rapid solutions for their problems.

2u2i programs requires undergraduates to study on campus for two years and interning in industries for another two.  The programme aims to support flexible education and Shift 1 of Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education): Holistic, Entrepreneurial and Balanced Graduates.

APEL programs stands for Accreditation Prior of Previous Experience-based Learning. It is defined as a systematic process that involves identification, documentation and evaluation of previous experience-based learning. APEL gives the opportunity to the individual who has work experience but with minimal qualification or no academic qualification to study at Higher Education Institutions (IPT). APEL assessment involves the knowledge gained by the individual through informal education or previous experience

The CEO @ Faculty Programme brings together top local and international CEOs and industry players into Malaysia’s universities to share their knowledge and experiences with students and the university community. The CEOs, appointed as ‘Adjunct Professors’, have committed up to 30 hours a year of their time to provide mentorship to university students and lecturers, and even guide universities on matters such as curriculum development to ensure industry relevance.

The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA Malaysia (UiTM) has been actively involved in all the industrial oriented initiatives and programmes provided by Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia as well as Malaysia Automotive Institute.

The value added programmes that have been continuously involved by our students are “Automotive Industry Certification Engineering (AICE)” for university graduates and “Automotive Industry Graduate Apprenticeship” for university new intakes. Faculty have been consistently involved in the automotive related competitions as a medium to expose the students’ talents with soft skills and the technical skills.

The Faculty has become the overall champion of the Perodua Eco Challenge 2017, beating nine other institutes of higher learning with its ‘Techno-Seat’ storage idea. The invention also won first prize in the Parts Development and Product Marketing sub-categories besides being the champion for Formula SAE Asean 2016.

The faculty also is moving forward to introduce the students with alternative energy resources and has been recognized as champion for the fourth year running in the hydrogen fuel category at the Eighth Shell Eco-Marathon Asia 2017 in Singapore as well as being the  only team from Malaysia in Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge (WSC) 2017  with the car named TUAH-  the fully designed and developed in-house solar car by 24 students from Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Applied Sciences and Faculty of Mass Communication and Media Studies.

As an academician, it is hoped more joint-venture programs can be implemented together between academician, researchers and industries players in developing smart lean thinker talents who are ready to embrace the new industry 4.0.  Welcome Industrial 4.0 to Malaysia and we are ready to embark this new adventure!

Dr. Noor Azlina Mohd Salleh is the Co-ordinator for Industry Community Alumni Entrepreneurship Network, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi MARA Malaysia.

This article is the personal opinion of the writer and may not reflect the position of the Malaysia Automotive Institute.