Exclusive: How a Malaysian manufacturer plans to crack the 'digital tsunami'

In a Computerworld 'rapidfire' interview, Continental Tyre PJ's Gerhard Janotta and Siemens' Adam Yee talk more about a strategy to keep ahead of the knowledge curve required for digital transformation.

By AvantiKumar
Jan. 17, 2017

tyres smart-car (IDG)

Image (IDG) - Tyres and Smart automation


Towards the end of last year, Malaysian manufacturer Continental Tyre PJ Malaysia unveiled a major move in its strategy to keep ahead of the knowledge curve required for digital transformation (DX), which has been noted by various industry leaders as a major economic driver for 2017.

Working with automation specialist Siemens Malaysia, and in an attempt to speed up digitisation, Continental Tyre PJ Malaysia decided to prepare to equip its workforce with the skills and knowledge to meet the 'digital tsunami' of automation into the manufacturing industries.

During the official opening of a new training facility in December last year, Continental Tyre's Janotta described it as a new 'first of its kind' training centre, launched to continually help local talents upskill themselves to meet emerging digitalisation and Industrie 4.0 manufacturing scenarios.

The new training facility was jointly launched with automation specialist Siemens Malaysia, which is supplying the technology necessary to impart the knowledge required to operate state of the art industry automation and drives solutions needed for advanced digitalised manufacturing.

At the training centre, employees will learn to use the latest manufacturing solutions, provided by Siemens Process Industries and Drives division. Trainees will be instructed in applications such as next-level automation, predictive maintenance & remote monitoring, and digitalisation.

Examples of the solutions they will be exposed to include the likes of Siemens Industrial PC Management and SIMATIC S7, which enables individuals to configure and program automated tasks within their manufacturing facilities.

In addition to helping meet a critical capability gap, Janotta said such skills will help manufacturers improve their product quality, productivity, flexibility, efficiency, throughput time and time-to-market.

In a double 'rapidfire' interview below with Computerworld Malaysia, Gerhard Janotta, plant manager, Continental Tyre PJ Malaysia followed by Adam Yee, vice president and head of Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives Division, Siemens Malaysia, add further details to the first step of the DX road.

Continental_Gerhard Janotta

Photo - Gerhard Janotta, Plant Manager, Continental Tyre PJ Malaysia

Let's start with why your company opted to set up a training facility as a key step to DX?
As it is an in house training, so best fit will always give a good cost benefit ratio, inappropriate tools/facilities should never lack in a training facility.
We chose to work with Siemens, as one of the leading players in that segment.  And often you might end up with them being a supplier as well, which adds further value:  Siemens provides value for money, making it a win - win situation or both parties.
Also, external trainings are very expensive, so actually we have decided to follow the general principle 'make or buy', Make was indicating the much better benefit so we do it ourselves.
 What do you hope to achieve from this move of return?
Firstly, we expect the following key objectives (1) Reduction of machine down time caused by lack of knowledge in Controls & Drives standard technology and (2) Implement a qualification program for Controls & Drives engineers/technicians in the plants
Could you talk through some of the steps used in the facility?

The first stage is the skills gap analysis, according to a system matrix and then identifying the training needs in line with a Training Kit.
We then went through a selection and definition of the trainings, according to skills gap analysis system matrix as well as a hands-on training approach with the training kit. Each training includes basic, intermediate and advance levels.
Finally, we have an evaluation of the technician on the lessons learned by respective Section Managers.
What's been the impact so far of the facility before and how did you manage the cultural changes?
So far, repair times have gone down significantly:  we have moved from a 'trial and error' to a much more structured approach.
In terms of cultural changes, the biggest success criteria always comes from the person to be trained, i.e. if the person is interested in learning something new, it will be beneficial, you only have to look at your kids, if they are interested in something they will know a lot and will share it with you, if they are not interested it will be an uphill battle from the beginning. Make sure you have people who are willing to learn something, and it will take you long way.

So far, we have had a very positive response from our employees.
What would you advise other companies looking to make similar moves and could you talk about your future plans?
Each company is different, they have to find out themselves, but I recommend to analyse and think it through, there are a lot of benefits to be gained.
Moving ahead, as mentioned before, we no longer have a 'screwdriver and spanner" approach anymore, we have a more data-driven environment.  Let us first get 'industry 4.0' completed; we are only at the very beginning. The next steps will be coming soon.

We have to be able to maintain this new approach otherwise we will not be able to produce. We are now better prepared for the challenges ahead.

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