Thursday, 27 December 2018

Bouncing back: A year of unexpected transition

This year interestingly been a year of unexpected transition. Apart from the obvious administration transition, tremendous progress was seen in the industry’s transformation – seen through a re-engineering and re-thinking across the entire industry, as well as the nation at large.
On its fundamentals alone, the industry is slowly bouncing back to the performances seen before the economy took its turn to uncertainty in 2015.
Domestic sales and production are expected to increase, compared with last year. Energy-Efficient Vehicle (EEV) penetration is expected to surpass its last year’s performance, and exports of parts and components are expected to improve year on year.
The best ideas are often generated through many differing views, a coin derives its value from its head and tail. As a nation, and for the industry in particular, more views were introduced into the system, bringing a higher value of ideas, solutions and thought leadership to the products and services we churn.
Since 2016, the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) – formerly known as MAI – had embarked on 9 pillars for implementation of Industry 4.0.
While numerous programmes were developed to prepare the industry for its inevitable future, industry readiness was  lukewarm as technology investment anxiety was high, especially among small and medium enterprises that took a wait-and-see approach before taking a new path head on.
A commitment is still change nonetheless, in fact it is this turning point that initiates transformation. This year, industry players initiated new responses to the call of Industry 4.0.
For the first time in Malaysia, blockchain technology was seen as a solution to the issues surrounding big data transmission and consumption. New education and skills programmes were initiated to fill in the gaps created for Malaysia to immerse its talent pool in technologies such as robotics and Internet of Things (IoT), additive manufacturing, manufacturing execution systems and connected mobility.
The “traditional” industry players also upped their game by introducing new products to the market. While Perodua’s Myvi, launched late last year, changed the entry level segment with the introduction of Advanced Safety Assistance; Proton introduced its first sport-utility vehicle (SUV) – not just a new segment for the national brand, but also its first connected car, a step forward into the future of connected mobility within our borders.
Through the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI), the government solidified its commitment through the National Policy on Industry 4.0, aptly named Industr4WRD.  This policy maps out the key pillars to achieve Industry 4.0 compliance, and introduced an initiative called the Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment.
The programme provides an objective assessment for participating companies in compliance to Industry 4.0 readiness, allowing them to be matched to relevant government agencies that may assist companies in accelerating their Industry 4.0 implementation towards global competitiveness.
Overall, this year transmitted a strong signal the nation is gearing up for this transformation. To brave and wade through 2019, one thing is key – while the nation has risen above numerous economic recessions, political transition and socio-cultural challenges, we must remember that the wealth of a nation is not just defined by its economy, but its wealth of talent and its ideas.
While the above achievements are but a small sample of the industry’s progress in the last year, we must always remember that the path ahead is still long and winded, and it is up to us as a nation to bring new solutions, thinking and mindsets to the world.
The generations of our forefathers make them known as heroes in times of war, turmoil and difficulty of a humanitarian base. As the generation that inherited their wealth and peace, our generation must be known for our innovation, creativity and socio-economic maturity. That responsibility is not for us leave on others, we must be heroes of our own challenges – bringing this nation to global heights.

The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii)

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