The Challenges and Opportunities of Bringing Industry 4.0 To Malaysia

The Industrial Revolutions are points in time where technological breakthroughs substantially improve efficiency and productivity. It started with steam-powered machines (Industry 1.0), then to electricity (Industry 2.0), which evolved into automation (Industry 3.0). Now, we have reached Industry 4.0, which is the convergence of automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). SIRIM Berhad aims to help Malaysian businesses utilize this new standard, and its President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Prof Ir. Dr Ahmad Fadzil Mohamad Hani, explains more to International Business Review.

As part of its new vision of being the “Best Partner for Innovation” SIRIM is using their expertise and experience to assist Malaysian industries to compete in the global marketplace by collaborating with its customers to improve their capabilities in their industry and business.

Industry 4.0 (I4.0) is the process of merging physical, cyber, connectivity, and smart computing together, as said by Prof Ir. Dr. Ahmad Fadzil. A factory built with I4.0 in mind will be able to conduct the entire manufacturing process independently, detect any changes in the automated process, and determine if certain parts need to be upgraded or replaced. Customers will able to request customised products based on their own process. No human intervention is required.

It is offering to become a ‘Total Solutions Provider’ with international standards of core technology applications such as IoT, autonomous robotics, and system integration. The implementation I4.0 will follow four programmes: compliance of Industry 4.0, talent development, standardisation, and development of new products. These services match the goals developed by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), which include increasing the productivity of the manufacturing industry, elevating the country profile in the global innovation index ranking, and increasing the overall contribution to the manufacturing industry.

"We aim to assist the country’s industries to compete in the global marketplace by being their ‘Best Partner For Innovation."

Prof Ir. Dr. Ahamd Fadzil Mohamad Hani, President and Group Chief Executive of SIRIM Tweet

It is also planning to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) dedicated to Industry 4.0. They are pursuing to become the lead agency to facilitate collaborations and engagements with relevant government ministries and agencies. These industries include manufacturing agencies, telecommunication infrastructure providers, and technology suppliers, as well as other parties and their respective associations. Prof Ir. Dr. Ahmad Fadzil says, “SIRIM will focus on three areas: standards development, competency building, and technology for smart manufacturing.” Establishing the CoE will strengthen Malaysia’s industrial innovations, encourage technological competitiveness and increase productivity for local manufacturing companies.

Despite having a strong vision, there are several challenges that SIRIM will have to face. Among them are low buy-in rate due to unclear economic benefits, lack of commitment from various organisations involved, and lack of adequate skills to support this progress. Another issue, especially for SMEs, is lack of financial resources. However, implementing I4.0 can provide economic benefits.

Prof Ir. Dr. Ahmah Fadzil explains, “When producing raw materials, the factory is connected to the cuber-physical system which will find it easier to source for the best process and logistics to ensure cost efficiency.” Perhaps the biggest challenge is the concern about the loss of jobs. It believes it will need to train people to ensure that they are capable to meet the needs of I4.0.

For now, SIRIM is ready to provide services to those looking to move toward I4.0. The services they provide include I4.0 readiness assessment test, developing IoT applications and workforce training to ensure that they have the knowledge to face the challenges of I4.0. Several other projects include collaborating with industry and technology companies, the SIRIM Industrial Innovation Model Fund, and several endeavours such as the Routing for Future Readiness talent development program. SIRIM believes that they have the knowledge and experience to bring the nation towards Industry 4.0.