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On the eve of our Nation’s Industry4.0 Policy Framework: A proponent speaks

On the eve of our Prime Minister unveiling the Nation’s Industry 4.0 Policy Framework, President of Malaysia’s Industry4.0 Association, Raja Teagarajan shares his views about the local landscape and the gaps that exist.

Enterprise IT News has the interview below:

EITN: Please share about the association and its aspirations.

Raja: Industry 4.0 Malaysia Association is an NGO that was established in 2017 to spearhead the promotion, implementation and advancement of Industry 4.0 in support of the government’s vision to up-skill and up-scale industries and trade in Malaysia in line with the on-going global revolution. Currently serving over 100 companies whom mostly are practitioners in the Industry 4.0 spectrum such as IOT specialists, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Cyber Security and Training. Some of the companies whom are members are X-Peranti, KCom Group, PSDC, SAP and TUD SUV. There is a membership fee which allows the association to operate and manage its office.

It mainly facilitates its members to give market accessibility and To support businesses, organisations or individuals by providing access to facilities for holding and conducting trade shows, business negotiations arbitration, meetings of companies or other like matters.

The Association primary goal is to work together with the Government of Malaysia, State Governments and public bodies in Malaysia to advance the development and implementation of Industry 4.0​. Particularly to be the bridge between with other trade associations, mercantile and public and private bodies throughout Malaysia and Internationally and promote measures of facilitation of Industry 4.0. Ministry of International Trade and Industry is the key ministry, which will oversee the development of the Malaysian Industry 4.0 Policy, that is to be launched on the 31st October 2018 by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Tun Mahathir Mohamad.

However, other Ministries will also have to play its part to promote and advance the holistic implementation of Industry 4.0 such Human Resource Ministry and Ministry of Multimedia and Communication. This is so that we can oversee the human capital development and infrastructure.

In order to support businesses, organizations or individuals by providing access to facilities, we will be working together with other trade associations to organize the National Conference on Industry 4.0 Malaysia mid 2019 To create awareness of Industry 4.0 in Malaysia and between Malaysia and foreign countries and facilitate participation for business, organizations or individuals keen to engage in developments related to Industry 4.0​. Similarly we will be engaging the education faculties to develop the interest in subjects such as 3D printing, robotics and coding.

EITN: Why is 4.0 crucial for Malaysia – what sectors and what are the implications of embracing 4.0?

Raja: Malaysia’s standing on the world stage is, if our country does not adopt and adapt to the inevitable movement into Industry 4.0, Malaysia will soon slip away in terms of global ranking which in turn might cause losses to its economic and competitive edge. Fellow neighbors such as China, Singapore and Thailand are prepared to accept to embrace Industry 4.0 and are shifting gears and propelling their business eco-systems as they go. This would have a cause and affect in the manufacturing sector and potentially other trading businesses. Industry 4.0 will have immense potential in productivity gains and efficiency in producing goods and services. It will also lower the cost of production by minimizing margin of error and moving from labor-intensive work to smart machine manufacturing and scalability.


EITN: SMEs adoption of 4.0 – challenges and possible solutions?

Raja: The main concerns or challenges for Industry 4.0 are mindset shift and cost of capital. Traditional businesses in Asia Pacific are still operating in the brick and mortar concept and yet to shift to the digitization format. This is due the lack of awareness and know-how on the implications of the applications and tools of Industry 4.0 to their businesses. Over 98.5 % of companies in Malaysia are made out of Small and Medium Enterprises, which is contributing to 36% of the countries GDP. Current solution providers are mostly from the United States and Germany and that creates the cost to be exorbitant but by grooming local expertizes and transfer of knowledge, we will be able to break the cost barrier and channel enough solution providers to support the SMEs.

EITN: Incentives and training – what are we doing and what else can we do?

Raja: There are training providers who are focused their training modules to reskilling and up skilling of future workforce. For example, Penang Skill Development Centre (PSDC) has trained over 3000 students to understand the concepts, tools and applications of Industry 4.0 in order to support the demand of the 220 Multi national companies based in Penang. That goes to show that MNCs are looking for skilled workers to improve the capabilities of the manufacturing sector. However we need to look at the demand of the country as a whole because over 20,000 students currently enrolled in TVET centers and studies need to be focused on future and relevant programs.

Simultaneously understanding that new jobs scopes will enter the market such as Data Scientist, IOT specialists or Cloud programming. It is stated that 67% of the current jobs will be made redundant by the year 2027. There is a need for shift in the current education system to include future capacity building.

Government will also need to look at incentivizing SMEs in adapting Industry 4.0 tools as it would increase the pace of the adoption.