The Fourth Industrial Revolution has become a central agenda at the recent World Economic Forum, from its Annual Meeting in January in Davos, Switzerland, to its regional meeting in Kuala Lumpur just last week.
The three industrial revolutions, in which the first started in the 1700s through the introduction of the steam engine, created global disruptions to the livelihood and business operations of the world population.
Subsequent revolutions, sparked through the discovery of electricity, mass production, electronics and information technology created similar disruptions throughout the next two centuries.
These disruptions caused massive need for industries to adapt to new business models and management philosophies.
The fourth industrial revolution has been seen through the digitalisation of our way of life – primarily through the introduction of smart technology with the ability to communicate seamlessly through the cloud server.
This connectivity comes with the power to monitor and control daily activities through the simple touch of a button on our smartphones, tablets and other devices – all linked to the internet.
A primary core of the fourth industrial revolution is the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data Management. Simply put, all future applications, devices, and machinery will connect to each other through a massive exchange of data and information which, in turn, will be curated and analysed into a “system of systems” that influence and support our daily decisions and livelihoods.
This revolution has impacted the automotive industry for quite some time now.
In the late 20th century, vehicles that had run for decades on purely mechanical systems were replaced by the more advanced electronic fuel injection systems.
Today, virtually all vehicles depend on multiple sensors that send data to the electronic control unit (ECU), which processes this data to make important decisions, such as fuel usage, traction control, braking force distribution, etc.
Although the last three decades saw these data processed and consumed only within individual vehicles, the current speed of data connectivity and transmission will soon see this data consumed over vast networks that connect all vehicles, car manufacturers, component suppliers, service centres, traffic management systems, and governing agencies.
Just like how a smartphone has connective apps that, based on data available through the internet, help us become better photographers, navigators, cooks, or gardeners, the car will also have in-built apps that not just change the way we drive, but also transforms the vehicle into an integrated system for mobility.
The IoT and Big Data have given birth to the possibility of self-driving cars, which will run on massive online data containing detailed information on consumer behavior, traffic and weather conditions, vehicle performance, etc.
To remain competitive, Malaysia’s automotive industry must make the adaptation to this exponential change in technological consumption a top priority, and formulate business models that will cater to the future demands of consumers, not just from a product standpoint but also integrated data management systems within manufacturing and aftersales, which are compatible with the massive flow of data in the future.
To enable this technological acquisition for the local automotive ecosystem, Malaysia Automotive Institute has embarked on the MAI Intelligent Technology Solutions (MITS), an umbrella initiative that provide accessible cloud based applications to automotive businesses in the areas of product and process design, smart manufacturing, quality assurance, inventory management as well as aftersales and consumer marketing.
This initiative will optimise collaborative efforts within the automotive community, linking the three most important stakeholders – the industry, government and academia to propel Malaysia’s competitiveness through the next era of sustainable mobility.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.