• Madani Sahari

Embracing the digital future

The first two parts of this series discussed the future challenges facing the nation’s automotive industry, and the need to adapt to new norms of consumerism, whom are more informed than ever about the products and services they purchase.

A central focus of this new age is the massive dissemination of data and information.

An example of such massive data flows can be seen just by opening our personal social media accounts, purchasing groceries online or hailing a ride on our smartphones.

This global wave of digitalisation has affected our daily lives, and most noteworthy, affects the operations, sales & marketing behaviours and functions of business in all sectors and industries.

It has become a major contributor to the global phenomenon called the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 is admittedly a vast subject, and has a high risk of over simplification.

The jury is still out on what this means for our future, but one thing is clear – the changes in lifestyles, commerce and personal interactions are moving at an alarming and unprecedented pace, creating the urgency for all industries to quickly react to remain competitive.

The begging question is obvious  – how do we, as an industry and as a nation, adapt to this rapid change?

We may not have a complete answer, but at least we should know where to start.

We know that Industry 4.0 is building on the digital revolution we have seen over the last couple of decades.

We also know that the most likely scenario of Industry 4.0 is a fusion of technologies within the physical, digital and biological spheres.

With this in mind, it is important that we develop the basic framework that satisfies the above – developing the infrastructure to collect, process and disseminate massive amounts of data into useful and strategic information, which is in turn delivered, processed or consumed by people from a multitude of talents, cultures and backgrounds, on different modes of applications and devices.

This specification makes up the basic construct of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data Management.

A key ingredient of the National Automotive Policy 2014 (NAP 2014) is the development of a supply chain and human capital capable of not just basic production, but also skilled in the disciplines of product and process design.

With the advent of Industry 4.0, automotive design capabilities must be based upon large amounts of data comprised of various data inputs – concerns that affect the branding, manufacturing, after sales and environmental inputs from motorists, regulators, even data collected on our carbon footprints.

Recognising this, the Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) has developed numerous initiatives to address the needs of industry stakeholders in keeping up with the rapid digitalisation of industry practices.

For example, collaborative design and validation is now possible through MAI’s Design Engineering & Prototyping (DEP) programme, which allows product and process design activities to be performed collaboratively over the cloud, through large data centres premised in locations under MAI’s patronage.

DEP is one of the many programs under our flagship umbrella, called the MAI Intelligent Technology systems (MITS), which will introduce even more cloud based applications to address industry needs such as manufacturing optimisation, business intelligence, and tool life predictability.

It is our hope that in 2017, we will see increased participation of OEMs, vendors, materials producers and aftersales businesses on the digital bandwagon.

As the focal point of the automotive industry, we believe that the government’s investment in such infrastructure is optimised by our domestic players to achieve competitiveness, and most importantly adapt to the inevitable change in global economic norms.

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