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Kuala Lumpur, May 5:Manufacturers need to take every opportunity to embrace smarter, connected technologies now but although industry 4.0 has been buzzword for some time, many manufacturers in Malaysia still struggling in whether to move forward with it. The Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) has organized the “Way Forward on IR4.0 for SME” webinar to invite Industry 4.0 expert professionals to share on implementation and the steps to move forward on IR4.0.

The webinar was moderated by Wong Chui Ling, a celebrity entrepreneur and has invited three speakers from Industry 4.0 including a Senior Director from MITI to share with us the grant that offered by our government especially to SMEs.

Dr. Chua Wen Shyan, Head of Malaysian Smart Factory 4.0 (MSF 4.0) under the Selangor Human Resource Development Centre (SHRDC) said that the concept of integrating technologies should be modular, compatible, flexible and scalable to reduce complexity and thus cost-effective and sustainable.

Dr. Chua added that smart factory is a convergence of OT (Operational Technologies) in IoT (Internet of Things), it takes current manufacturing processes to Industry 4.0 standards, ie. highly effective and efficient machines which are capable of five build blocks of technology: data generation, visualization, storage, formulation and analytics.

He emphasized that IR4.0 is not about building computer/system, it’s about custom focus tailor made applications for SMEs which are sustainable transformation. Companies need to have a good understanding about what kind of improvements they required for their own operational needs.

Mr. Tiong Khe Hock, the Managing Director of Omron Electronics Sdn Bhd / President of Malaysia Automation Technology Association (MATA) shared about the steps to Industry 4.0: lean manufacturing, that is to do more and more with less and less - less human effort, less equipment, less time, and less space. Automation and IR 4.0 application can improve bottom-line and help to enhance competitiveness, data analytics and AI implementation.

Tiong pointed out that the challenges faced by Malaysia SME manufacturers such as low productivity, make-to-order requirement and labour intensive operation could be solved by such smart automation facilities. Successful human-machine interface will enable robots to work side-by-side with people. Collaborative cobots and robots could increase productivity, flexibility and quality, leading to greater efficiency.

As to the way forward after the CV-19 impact, Tiong said that the SMEs should do a self-assessment like where and to what extend the company want to move towards automation. In addition, the entrepreneurs need to decide whether business model of the company intended to be upgraded or transformed, also to conduct process improvement such as lean manufacturing, and related talent development.

En. Mohd Mirza Mohamed Noor, Senior Director of National Strategic Initiative, MIMOS explained the application procedures of MITI Industry4WRD initiative during his presentation. The Industry4WRD initiative launched in 2018 to help SMEs in manufacturing sector and services to understand their existing capabilities and gaps in terms of people, process and technologies, and to provide strategic recommendation to adopt the IR4.0.

The Industry4WRD initiative is divided into two components, that are readiness assessment which is to be conducted by MITI, and the business intervention conducted by the MIDA.

In addition, En. Mirza mentioned that SMEs could also get information from the BIZ4WARD data-based info hub.

Most businesses are aware that there is a major change coming and that they need to be ready to capitalize on it. All the three speakers have acknowledged for SMEs that to benefit from IR4.0, there is an urgent need for the manufacturers concerned to increase their practical understanding about digital technologies and applications. With that related knowledge, they can then formulate a digital manufacturing strategy and finally, a digital transformation roadmap.