For Part 2 – rapt attention by the participants

MALAYSIA’S INDUSTRY 4.0 JOURNEY – PRACTICAL BEGININGS

Part 1 of this article looked at what Industry4WRD, Malaysia’s Industry 4.0 roadmap is and the reasons why, which were presented by speakers at the Industry 4.0, Demystify, Funding & Roadmap Conference at the Petaling Jaya Hilton on 30 April 2019, jointly organised by the Malaysian National Computer Confederation (MNCC) together with the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) and P2P Talent Development PLT (P2P).

Here we will continue by looking at early practical implementations and solutions along Malaysia’s road to full Industry 4.0.

An end-to-end ecosystem

“Industry 4.0 is an ecosystem which covers all aspects of the production process from end-to-end. It is all about connectivity and data collection, and cyber-physical systems derive and analyse digital data from physical systems to further improve the technology and help Industry 4.0 to fully achieve its objective”, said  Mano Subramaniam, General Manager at Packaging Sales & Service (M) Sdn Bhd, who regards Industry 4.0 as a journey, which could take up to 15 years to reach full maturity in Malaysia.

Whilst Industry 4.0 is still in its infancy in Malaysia, however Mano’s company, Packaging Sales & Services, began supplying its clients with Industry 4.0-ready machines since a few years back in preparation for fully-fledged Industry 4.0. It also supplies smart factory machines and systems.

“Our small-to-medium enterprises are already at Industry 3.0 and if you have a machine with a sensor you are at stage of Industry 3.0 and robots are already used in Industry 3.0 production facilities”, said Mano. “The key difference is that robots in Industry 4.0 facilities will be autonomous and able to perform tasks on their own”, he added.

Three-dimensional (3D) product simulation with Industry 4.0 enables businesses to come out with products faster and it enables distributed manufacturing whereby products are made in factories closest to the customer.

His company builds production machines and integrates production systems and according to its website the company has implemented 56 projects, 15 bulk bagging lines, 23 bottling and canning lines, 345 labelling systems, 45 palletisers, 268 conveying systems, 187 inspection systems and over 500 coding systems.

“We have implemented our web-based Smart 4.0 system with full data connectivity with a few of our key customers”, said Mano.

The system relies on connectivity and real-time data collection to enable its customers to access details such as information about the machines, data from line plant machine error logs, utility data for preventive maintenance, access product information, obtains product data from RFID tags, performs audit trails, lifecycle analysis and so forth for the customer.

Analysing IoT data

CISCO IBSG estimates that IoT first came into being around 2008 and 2009 and that there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, which will require a lot of data analyses to improve productivity, efficiency and improve processes.

“To be true Industry 4.0, businesses must be able to analyse data, will need talent to drive up production, identify the amount of work to be done to maintain each machine, so they will need a strong and robust platform”, said Tan Chin Kuan, Director, Industry Solutions, Asia Pacific at Qlik, a US-based analytics and business intelligence solutions provider.

About 50% of industry uses sensors to optimise the supply chain, to analyse sensor data such as to identify tolerance levels, predict maintenance requirements and allow remedial action to be taken from anywhere.

Analysis of data from sensors also enables manufacturers and retailers to monitor and manage stocks, know which items move the fastest, an IoT device on a car or truck can provide data for insurance premium calculation, monitor engine efficiency and energy consumption, they can be used in oil palm plantations to analyse soil conditions, predict weather conditions so plantation managers can decide what to do that day.

Optimising storage space

TXMR Sdn Bhd in Subang Jaya designs, architects and implements fully automated production systems and processes for major automotive, oil & gas and aerospace clients and upgrades existing production facilities to full automation.

Its hardware and software engineers combine all technologies including sensors, IoT devices and so forth to design integrated conveyor automation systems, material handling equipment, integrated robotic systems, integrated vision systems and cyber-physical management systems to provide end-to-end production systems to help its clients improve their processes and productivity.

The company also provides project management, mechatronic engineering design, fabrication & electrical wiring, research & development, automation and robotic programming services for its clients.

One of its success stories is the automation of a client’s storage and retrieval system to optimise its storage space.

The client’s inventory management operation occupied 31,020 sq ft with 20 staff who output 200 sets per shift, and required to increase production to meet additional orders and it needed to train operators to increase productivity with fewer staff.

So TXMR implemented an automated storage and retrieval system which maximised the height of the storage rack, reduced the floor space to 19,000 sq ft, used autonomous guided vehicles and replaced the staff with robots and the output increase to 500 sets per shift.

“The use of robots eliminated the need to provide adequate space around human staff to ensure their safety and now our client can plan to increase productivity with less space. This solution lets them have one one storage facility serving three factories and the automated storage and retrieval system lets them reduce their number of operators from six to two”, said TXMR Managing Director Tengku Mohd. Farid Tengku Hassim.

Blockchain

Penang-based Ashisuto Global Technologies provides IT consulting & services and engineering IT solutions based on blockchain technology for manufacturing, agriculture, government, smart city, medical, healthcare & insurance, logistic & supply chain, sustainable energy, banking & finance industries to help them achieve Industry 4.0.

It offers its Form-World range of flexible and scalable system development platforms which its clients can use to develop systems for various industries according to their need.

Form-World Enterprise Extension is embedded with a relational database for various systems development, including enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, business intelligence, supply chain management, human resource management and others which clients can use to develop systems of any number of users.

Form-World Distribution edition employs blockchain technology for reliable and robust systems through the cryptography algorithm and is intended for systems which require high levels of security and traceability.

Ashisuto also provides system design services based on the Form-World development platform for small to large scale systems based on customer requirements.

Customers who master the platform can develop systems which connect to all sensors, IoT devices and so forth, as well as systems which support automation. They can also get their supplier to set up a machine to sell items and is connected to the cloud.

“Form-World lets customers achieve a just-in-time (JIT) supply chain by using IoT, cloud and blockchain”, and its low investment cost makes it suitable for small-to-medium-enterprises, e-commerce applications, suppliers of halal goods and others”, said Tham KT, Ashisuto Chief Executive Officer.

IoT platform

Puchong-based Favoriot Sdn Bhd offers a cloud-based IOT platform specifically designed for any Internet of Things (IoT) project. It supports the integration of data from sensors and actuators on the internet, thus making the collection of data from IOT devices much easier. The platform also helps developers build vertical applications without having to worry about the hosting.

A dashboard lets businesses visualise their data using our basic graphing tools. Favoriot lets users control and manage their IOT devices through the platform. It connect to all kind of devices using the REST protocol, an event processing rules engine enables action to be triggered in real-time, whilst 3rd party plugins let users connect their IOT information  to their preferred social media, and it also can perform data processing of real-time aggregated data streams to applications and also access historical data for data aggregation.

“For Industry 4.0, we offer developers and businesses a platform which works with data from different sources”, said Dr. Gopinath Rao Sinniah, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Favoriot.

Favoriot offers a free plan for developers to create simple projects or to get familiar with an IoT platform, a beginner plan at RM100 per year for individual developer and student projects, an IoT Ecosystem plan at RM3,000 per year for universities, colleges and training centres to develop and manage their own IoT ecosystem for students and a customised plan for startups or medium to large scale sized projects.

Besides the Favoriot platform, the company offers its Favorsense crowd sensing platform for public and private parties to build better communities and cities, as well as Raqib solution which allows remote monitoring of an individual, such as their health and safety.

Preserving client’s investment

“Why not leverage on the technology we have right now. Controls now are programmable if they can be controlled from a PC. Industry 4.0 lets us obtain data and translate it into something quantifiable. It lets us quote deals with our customers. We can import data into our system and can include old equipment and components into a new system”, said Kevin Tan Tze Pin, Founder and Director of Penang-based Iconix Technology Sdn. Bhd, which works closely with Germany-based automation equipment provider, Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG

Founded on 28 January 2008, Iconix Technology Sdn. Bhd., works on improving and simplifying seamless digital lifestyle integration, productivity and competitiveness in applications such as smart city, smart factory or Industry 4.0, smart retail, smart devices and autonomous control system. It currently serves clients in diverse industries from government agencies to academic institution as well as manufacturing industries.

The Igus Robolink DCi modular robotic system allows clients to automate manual work steps quickly and easily. Articulated arms of various lengths and sizes are available. The number of lubrication-free joints used ranges from two to six, and the robot can be equipped with various tools (e.g., grippers, suction cup, camera, etc.) as desired. Robolink robot components are characterised by their modularity. As a modular system, a robot arm can be configured as desired and therefore economically, and moreover it is also possible to obtain ready-to-use complete systems.

The company provides IoT and automation technologies related products and services including middleware development, software engineering, cloud-based applications, building automation with integrated energy efficiency and automation control system for various industries such as manufacturing, wastewater treatment plants and education.

It also provides industrial grade building automation systems ranging from room control automation, floor level automation to a complete building control automation systems. The building automation system offers scalability and modularity for ease of expansion and supports up to 400 types of different I/O data connection points and it support all common actuator and sensors.

Are we ready for Industry 4.0?

“Adoption of Industry 4.0 is slow. Besides money, what is the most important factor?” asked Tan Chiaw Hooi PMP, Director, Advisory Services, Ernst & Young in the question & answer session.

“Industry 4.0 is already here, it is not new or unique and like it or not, we need to embrace it and our equipment must be Industry 4.0 ready”, said Mano Subramaniam. “It is like the blacksmiths who shoed horses, who either had to pick up on tyre repair or close shop”, added Mano, in reference to the evolution of transport from horse and buggy to motorcars.

“We need to convince manufacturers that our services are of benefit to them”, said Favoriot’s Dr. Gopinath Rao.

Be sure to know why

“Most important is a mindset to embrace Industry 4.0. Businesses must know why they want to embrace Industry 4.0, whether save cost, increase safety, reduce human intervention, improve productivity and so forth, then move on to achieve their objective. Next, they must know what they will require, such as industrial robots, vending machines and so forth”, advised Tan.

“Our study found that employee engagement is highest and employees will stay with companies which have clear perspectives, and such companies will have a higher success rate”.

“Businesses must put in place a structured programme to embrace Industry 4.0. It is all in the Journey Map document – ideas, visuals and so forth. You can also conduct this in a workshop with all heads of department – which section to start with to come out with a clear roadmap. They must also look at hardware and software costs and the level of investment required, then translate it into a simple return-on-investment graph.

“Savings in first year may not be high but it could be higher in the second year”, Tan added.

In Part 3, we will cover both government and private funding options for businesses wanting to embark on their Industry4WRD journey.

Note: Charles F. Moreira is also a MNCC Council Member