Industry 4.0 has transformed the way in which manufacturing is conducted and with buzzwords such as artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, cobots and cybersecurity dominating the industry. This has resulted in emerging markets such as Thailand developing innovative solutions in order to prosper. Article by Hazel Koh.
According to the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), Thailand 4.0 is a result of the Thai government’s vision of a new economic model, aimed at pulling Thailand out of the “middle-income trap”. And through this vision, robotics and automation technology is expected to play an increasingly important role in manufacturing. This builds on Thailand’s progress in the last three decades whereby the country grew in global rankings in terms of its automotive, electronics and electrical appliance industries, which are also the main industries that drive global robotics and automation growth. Hence, as the world’s sixth-largest commercial vehicle producer, Thailand has been using robotics and automation technology at an increasing rate.
Growth In Industrial Machinery
Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of Thailand BOI, said at the end of 2017 that, “Advanced technologies are changing the business landscape, especially in the manufacturing sector.” And he further added that, “We now see many companies transitioning into Industry 4.0, making use of AI, big data management and the Internet of Things (IoT) to seamlessly work together to exponentially increase both production and productivity.”
Therefore, it can be observed that over the past few years, manufacturers in Thailand have increasingly automated manufacturing processes and adopted the use of machinery in order to remain competitive globally. In addition, 50 percent of Thai manufacturers are considering the adoption of automation systems within one to three years while medium-sized businesses will be ready in three to five years, followed by small companies in five years or more.
This has resulted in a dramatic expansion of the Thai industrial robots industry and between 2013 and 2018, Thailand’s exports of industrial robots has increased by 133 percent.
Infrastructural And Ecosystem Support
In order to facilitate the development of Thailand 4.0, Thailand has invested in numerous support networks. For example, educational institutions are playing a role in supporting research and development as well as human resource training and this can be observed in the case of the Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) of King Mongkut’s University of Technology, Thonburi, which is currently offering undergraduate and graduate programmes in robotics and automation engineering.
To top this off, The BOI offers a consortium of tax and non-tax investment incentives for projects that meet national development objectives in automation and robotics. For example, machinery and import duty for raw materials that are meant for export production can attain up to eight years of corporate income tax exemption while for projects related to assembling robots or automation equipment and/or automation parts, investors will be exempted from corporate tax for five years. And investments relating to robotics and automation in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) will also be given another 50 percent corporate income tax reduction for an additional five years.
Future Outlook And Challenges
As Thailand builds on its vision of advance manufacturing, the workforce has to be trained in order to meet the changing industry requirements. And it has been estimated by the ILO that 56 percent of Thai-based jobs are at high risk of being automated during the next two decades. Therefore,as the government continues to focus on the development of robotics, mechanics, AI and automation, Thailand has to invest on its workforce in order to remain competitive.