Thursday, 29 October 2015

BUDGET 2016: Developing Human Capital

It is a common perception that government will cut training budget during an economic downturn. Indeed it is true that some governments would reduce their fiscal expenditure on training to balance against revenue.
On the contrary, advance nation do not usually reduce their training budget but proportionately allocate training expenditure in line with the drop in the levels of employment during recession.
In 2008 economic downturn, the USA average training expenditure per employee fell by 11% from the previous year. Corporate expenditure reduced from USD58.5 billion in 2007 to USD56.2 billion in 2008. However the proportion of overall employees training remained unchanged with the drop in training volume remained largely in line with the drop in the level of employment.
The recent fiscal budget 2016 by the Malaysian government saw the focus given to technical and vocational education and training (TVET). In line with the budget theme of which is “Prospering the Rakyat”, a sum of RM4.8 billion is allocated to 545 TVET institutions.
Priority is given to the TVET programme as the government foresees the need to achieve the targeted 60% of the 1.5 million new jobs to be created by 2020 to achieve the status of a developed nation. The workforce must be TVET skilled to face the businesses and technological challenges ahead.
TVET programme is a long term measure to prepare the nation workforce towards economic recovery and henceforth industrial development when their new skills will be useful for competitiveness and innovativeness of the local industries.
Towards this, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) will establish an industrial skills committee to coordinate TVET programmes in collaboration with industries and some RM350 million is allocated to finance various TVET training programmes for 2016.
Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) has implemented various programmes thus far towards enhancing the skills and knowledge of the automotive industry workforce, both the current employees and new entrances into the workplaces.
The programmes were guided by four main economic pillars, namely; creating new employment opportunities, enhancing career development, generating new entrepreneurs, and growing the current businesses. All geared towards enhancing the competitiveness of the local automotive industry.
Creating new employment opportunities are programmes introduced for new engineering graduates and school leavers, especially those from the vocational and technical institutions. On-the-job trainings are coordinated for graduate students for their exposures and preparation towards real working life in a popularly attended programme named “Automotive Industry Certification Engineering (AICE)”.
“Industry Led Professional Certificate (IPC)” is a similar programme tailored for school leavers from vocational and technical institutions. The programmes cooperate with relevant industries to prepare the generically trained students into specific areas of the students’ interest to open up opportunity for employment in the automotive sector.
Customized AICE and IPC were also conducted for the currently employed automotive workforce to enhance career development in their respective workplaces. Apart from opening employment opportunities and career enhancement the programmes also indirectly expose the participants to business opportunities in the automotive sector.
The proposed 2016 budget aimed at creating 25,000 new jobs and trainings for some 10,000 employees. Enhancing competitiveness of more than 100 local vendors and strengthening some 500 existing workshops and service centers are also part of the budgetary agendas, inclusive of developing new entrepreneurs in sales, distribution, service, repair, remanufacturing and recycling activities in the local automotive industry.
It is a good reason for the automotive community to applause the proposed budget and to prepare for a challenging year ahead in 2016.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Importance of Internet of Things, Big Data Management

Internet has been part of everyday life of those opportune enough able to have access to the network. Electronic gadgetry, software, sensors and network connectivity are now the means to assist mankind to be connected to the vast data and information available round the world.
However data and information collection and exchange within the internet are almost wholly dependent of human input, which is less efficient due to people having time constraint, lack of attention and accuracy.
Billing system for household electricity supply is a simplest example to illustrate the interaction between human and computer systems in posting monthly bills to consumers.
Meter readers are the source of data input into the central computer system of a utility company which in turn process the data for billings. Human dependent for the data input often times and again proved the inefficiency and inaccuracy of the supposedly mechanized billing system.
Today advanced billing system starts with the electric meters being “smart” able to record the amount of electricity consumed within a period of time and transmit the data to the central computer system directly via the internet, thereby eliminating human involvement in the data collection. The efficiency and accuracy of billings are apparent while at the same time the contributing to reduction in waste, losses and costs.
This concept of internet application in products and human activities is now identified as the “Internet of Things (IOT)”, which name was coined sometimes in 1999 implying that machine-to-machine communication via the internet has been developed for more than a decade. The above billing system or product is considered as an object or a “thing” in the IOT and experts estimate that the IOT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.
Modern vehicles of today have numerous built-in sensors each with designated function or “Thing” to alert the drivers of the condition of the vehicles, driving conditions and other useful information. Remote monitoring of the vehicles can be achieved via the internet if each of the “Things” in the vehicles is assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over the network.

Application of IOT within the automotive sector, albeit in the aspect of vehicle monitoring, maintenance, etc., and the management of the automotive industry per se, both the manufacturing and marketing aspects, will lead to accumulation of large volume of data and information. Ability to manage this “Big Data” is crucial to ensure successful implementation of the concept.
Big Data Management (BDM) is the process of examining large data sets containing a variety of data types to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and other useful business information.
The data that has been analysed will be useful for remedial actions to reduce failures or to improve product design. In all the application of IOT and BDM will improve the efficiency and quality of products being produced and increasing in values of new product ideas, inspiring a surge in productivity and innovation and therefore improve the industry global competitive advantage.
Realizing the importance and the potential of the IOT and BDM in advancing the capability and competitiveness of the local automotive industry, MAI has initiated the MAI Intelligent Technology Solution (MITS) the IOT version for the automotive industry.
The platform will provide solution for engineering, manufacturing and marketing, able to enhance value creation process of the local automotive industry. With a single, easy-to-use interface, the platform provides solution using analysis, simulation, and intelligence software in a collaborative and interactive environment.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

FTAs to help liberalise automotive industry

Liberalization of the Malaysian automotive industry. As a country with a relatively small domestic market, we depend on international trade to support economic growth. As it is now, the country's exports are 120 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The argument justifies the reasons why the government has been actively pursuing many free trade agreements (FTAs).
To date, Malaysia has established FTAs with Japan, Pakistan, New Zealand, India, Chile and Australia. Malaysia and its Asean partners have also established the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) and Asean has concluded FTAs with China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
FTAs and Afta are factors Malaysia is able to sustain the average annual growth of about five per cent, despite global and regional economic uncertainties. This is due to enhanced export activities in the last few years as a result of lower tariffs.
FTAs also provide economic and technical cooperation platforms. Under the FTA with Japan, the Malaysia-Japan Automotive Industry Cooperation (MAJAICO) was established.
MAJAICO has been instrumental in enhancing quality management of automotive vendors through the MAJAICO A1 Lean Production System (LPS) implementation for competitive advantage. Recognizing the outcome of MAJAICO A1 LPS in enhancing the competitiveness of the local automotive industry, the Malaysian and Japanese governments agreed to extend it to 2015.
The recent Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (Mafta) saw a creation of a technology development and commercialization platform under the coordination of the Malaysia Automotive Institute.
In spite of Mafta being effective only from January 2013, there are already 17 technology projects worth RM200 million being developed for commercialization. Opportunities are being made available for automotive component manufacturers of both countries to cooperate and realize the potential of Australian technology and research and development for commercialization.
Human capital development, quality improvements management, processes and technology enhancement and other competitive enhancement mechanisms for the Malaysian automotive sector are also on the agenda. This platform is also being maximized to develop multi-skilled workers specializing in production, quality and autonomous maintenance.
Liberalization of the automotive industry is inevitable. It, however, will be progressive with longer phased-in periods for tariff elimination or reduction to allow Malaysian automotive manufacturers time to prepare for the increased competition.
Malaysia's economic growth largely depends on trade in goods and services boosted by FTAs. The automotive sector will become part and parcel of FTA negotiations.
The automotive sector will remain important. It contributed some RM30 billion to the national GDP last year and employed about 550,000 people throughout its value chain.
Malaysia has no alternative but to strive hard to ensure the survival of this industry. In the light of its liberalization, the local automotive industry must have a high level of efficiency, quality and competitive prices.
Central to the National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP) is the vision for Malaysia to become an energy efficient vehicle (EEV) hub. It is an initiative to create a new arena for automotive production with the desire to fulfill the earlier vision of the nation being technological competent in the manufacturing industry.
EEV manufacturing demands new and advanced technology and requires more skilled and knowledge manpower. The new venture hopes to recreate competent manpower, which had been retarded by the currency upheaval in the late 1990.
The initiative will also help consolidate stakeholders in the automotive industry, especially the technocrats, academicians and business community, to look further to a future common objective.
A strategic approach to realizing these prerequisites is to increase the sales volume via export enhancement of completely built unit (CBU) and completely knocked down (CKD) of locally produced vehicles, along with their parts and components for the after-sales market.
Malaysia's vision to be an EEV hub is not only confined to producing green vehicles. The vision also encompasses strategies to develop the entire value chain of the automotive industry towards environment preservation and creating new economic opportunities, such as recycling, remanufacturing and others.
These strategies are about business and process transformation of the automotive industry to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, optimize energy and achieve a sustainable framework from the standpoint of environment, economic and social pillars.
The NAP also aligns its measures to the safety requirements of the United Nations. Strategies are developed to complement the adherence to safety standards for new vehicles to include spare parts, either used or new. Directions to ensure safe levels for current running cars will also be introduced.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Euro fuel standard key in attaining air quality

It is now seems like a seasonal weather pattern that this region will be covered with haze once every year. The haze occurrences have often upset children schooling schedules, flight landing and departures, health hazards for many young and old and many more is a man made environmental degradation of a kind.
The air quality during these haze episodes are measured using the “Pollutant Standards Index”, or PSI, which is a number used to provide the public with understandable indicator of the air pollution level at any one time. The PSI is presented as a number ranging from 0 indicating an excellent air quality to 500 indicating the quality of air at its worst.
Industrious cities such as London in the UK and Los Angeles in the USA have had haze or smog atmospheric pollution in the recent pass that resulted in both governments to introduce the Clean Air Act in 1956 and 1955 respectively. The Acts were targeted to ascertain some level of control on the polluting nature of the power generating facilities burning coal, oil and natural gas.
Today the two cities have strictly enforced the act to ensure the quality of air is within a predetermined level. Consequently the enforcement of the acts gradually affected the gaseous emission control of motor vehicles in the cities, which is equally considered as air polluting agents.
As early as 1971 upon the introduction of unleaded fuel in the USA “Green fuel” revolution for automobiles began around the globe. Malaysia began to regulate the reduction in lead content of the nation petrol supply in 1985 and further reduction was enforced in 1990. Nine years later, in 1999, the nation petrol supply was declared totally unleaded.
Meanwhile in 1994, the European nations began to implement the Euro 1 standard replacing their leaded fuel with the unleaded version.  Further reduction of the carbon monoxide (CO) emissions was then achieved through additional enforcement of fitting the universal catalytic converters to the vehicles exhaust system.
The introduction of Euro 2 in 1996 was to limit the emission of other harmful gaseous such as unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen for both petrol and diesel vehicles. Substantial reduction of sulfur contents in fuels were also regulated under Euro 2 limiting the content to a maximum of 500ppm for diesel engine.
Euro 3 fuel standard was introduced in 2000 promising to further reduce the sulfur contents for diesel and petrol set at 350ppm and 150ppm respectively. Consecutively Euro 4 and Euro 5 fuels standards were respectively implemented in 2005 and 2009 ensuring further reduction in sulfur contents of 10ppm and harmful gaseous emission in vehicles.
Recently introduced Euro 6 fuel standard is imposing a further 67% reduction in Nitrogen Oxides exhaust emissions compared to that of Euro 5 for diesel engines. Contrary to the earlier perception that diesel is a polluting fuel, the modern diesel engine, coupled with Euro 6 fuel standard, are now considered advanced automotive fossil fuel power train capable of meeting the Energy Efficient Vehicle set criteria.
The government initiative towards encouraging fuel efficient and environmental friendly motoring quality fuel is now being promoted with the introduction of Euro 5 diesel in the market place. In 2014 some 13 stations in the southern part of Malaysia began to sell Euro 5 diesel marking the beginning of high fuel quality entering the country, meanwhile Euro 5 diesels is now available in Klang Valley.
The introduction of higher Euro fuel standard is an important way to help the nation in its battle to attain air quality with the continuous haze occurrences from time to time.