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

Adam Yee - Siemens

Photo - Adam Yee, Vice President and Head of Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives Division, Siemens Malaysia
 Please talk through your involvement with Continental Malaysia

The launch of the training facility comes at a critical time where Malaysian manufacturers are transitioning towards an innovation-led economy.

With an increased focus on building human capital to boost the local tyre industry, Continental Malaysia is now equipped with state-of-the-art technologies in the areas of electrification, digitalisation and automation supplied and supported by Siemens. We were also able offer our expertise and experience in the industrial process automation along with modern, reliable and high-performance process drives and systems.

 Key skills and capabilities in advanced manufacturing are now required for today's industry to achieve greater productivity, efficiency and business sustainability. We envision these will materialise from the training centre.
Furthermore, with the advent of digitalisation the skills required to properly maintain and operate machinery can no longer just mechanical. Employees will need a blend of both mechanical and digital know how to troubleshoot when there are hiccups in the manufacturing process. For a manufacturer such as Continental, the opportunity costs incurred from loss of production should a halt occur would be very costly. Thus the training centre will help ensure that they always have access to the skills required to troubleshoot when needed, potentially making significant savings in that regard.
 How will the employees benefit and can you talk how the manufacturing sector can turn DX to their advantage?
 Plus, the global tyre industry is a competitive and challenging one - it requires a flexible, integrated and transparent production centre in order to overcome every day challenges. Under the Digital Factory portfolio, all stakeholders can benefit from both software and hardware, which enable the integration of data from development, production and supplier.

 We provide automation systems within the scope of Totally Integrated Automation (TIA), which can support the entire manufacturing process. With a 'one-stop-shop' at Siemens, manufacturers across all industries, including tyre, can find solutions for plant, equipment and the entire manufacturing process.

With an extensive portfolio and automation expertise in the industry, each company can benefit from a tailored solution either to increasing plant availability, product quality, maximise energy efficiency and more.

One of major pillars of Siemens' business strategy is protecting our customers' investments now and in the future; hence customers can rely on the commitment of the Digital Factory division for long-term development of the business.
Could you talk a little more about manufacturing and Malaysia's Economy?
 Manufacturing remains an important pillar of Malaysia's economy, contributing to around a quarter of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). As the Fourth industrial revolution or Industrie 4.0 enters local firms, advanced manufacturing technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and cloud computing are just some of the many technological trends that will transform the manufacturing sector. In order to keep up with the digitalisation wave, companies must also be able to leverage on ICT and actively develop and showcase their skills and proficiency in using various platforms.
The next step for the Malaysian manufacturing sector is to drive increased productivity and business sustainability, which includes the assessment of existing manufacturing set-ups to introduce digitalisation and Industrie 4.0 technologies, skills upgrading of local talent and embracing innovation in the production environment. As Malaysia drives towards a knowledge-led economy, enhancing the talents of its manufacturing industry is critical for the economic development and to stay competitive with its neighbouring countries.
With regards to infrastructure, many companies are hesitant to take the first step as they view adopting digitalisation and Industrie 4.0 as a complex endeavour.

The important thing for Malaysian manufacturers to note is that embracing digitalization does not necessarily mean making a huge change. Instead, companies can take incremental steps to digitalise and augment their manufacturing processes.

For example, they could begin first by connecting sensors to the internet to better understand and monitor manufacturing processes. Once that is done they can then look at how they can utilize automation to optimize their manufacturing processes. Manufacturers can take incremental steps towards adopting digitalization in full. Which means they can progress at a pace that is suitable to them.
Looking at the bigger picture, we are excited about the changes happening within the Food & Beverage (F&B) sector. Currently we are working on a digitalisation project with one of our customers in this sector, with the aim of enhancing system transparency, reducing human errors and improving efficiency as whole. With digitalization, our customer would enjoy a faster time to market, higher energy efficiency rate, as well as better efficiency in raw material usage.

The first edition of this feature was published on Computerworld Malaysia on 17th January 2017.

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