Placing the region in line with incoming smart market trends

June 17, 2019 | 08:00
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The vision of Industry 4.0 emphasises the global networks of machines in a smart factory setting capable of autonomously exchanging information and controlling each other. Suttisak Wilanan, deputy managing director of Thailand’s Reed Tradex Co., Ltd., told VIR’s Phuong Thu how Southeast Asia, and particularly Vietnam, can expect to see a wide-scale divergence of supply chains coming its way.
placing the region in line with incoming smart market trends
Suttisak Wilanan

As Industry 4.0 is underway, can you share insights into the trend and concepts for growth in robotics and automation?

The concept of Industry 4.0 is closely aligned with smart factories, where automation and data exchange are playing an indispensable role in the manufacturing process. The ultimate aim is to revolutionise the competitive advantage of manufacturers like never before. In other words, smart factories within Industry 4.0 are expected to deliver a more responsive, adaptive, and connected manufacturing line that involves several innovative aspects from the Internet of Things to Artificial Intelligence. I consider the trend unavoidable.

Robotics and automation will be growing two-digit percentage points in the next 10 years. This is corresponding to increasingly complicated market demand because the product life cycle is shortened and the need for upgrading or model overhaul of industrial products is much faster than before, especially for the automobile industry.

It is said that Southeast Asia, ­especially Vietnam, can expect to see more supply chains coming its way if it improves production technology and capacity. What opportunities and challenges does the ASEAN need to be aware of to further its ­international integration?

The ASEAN has already been and will continue to be a major manufacturing and sourcing hub. More and more global brands have moved their production base to Vietnam in the past few years as a result. This fact alone has effectively stimulated growth in the Vietnamese subcontracting sector and supporting industries. It has also increased intra-regional and global transactions between Vietnam and trade partners, attracting more investment from multinationals due to its reasonable labour costs, strong economy, and growth in domestic demand.

Nevertheless, the ASEAN and Vietnam need to be aware of the coming trend of Big Data and disruptive technologies where many ASEAN-based manufacturing companies lag behind their multinational counterparts.

The future of manufacturing is no longer simply about attracting ­foreign direct investment, but ­retaining and developing sustainability in the long term. What should manufacturers consider when ­enhancing local capacities?

There have been key improvements in local capacities of supporting industries in Vietnam. This is thanks to the comprehensive programmes driven by the private and public sectors to match the need of both buyers and sellers. Nevertheless, manufacturing companies in Vietnam should consider applying digital and robotic technologies to their operations, bearing in mind the investment scale is commensurate with their return on investment. These technologies could increase profit margins, lower costs and shorten delivery time. The use of Big Data could improve the demand forecasting and production planning, leading to better customer service and higher profit margins. On the cost side the analytical details, real-time data on inventory, and shipments in transit to downstream customer demand would allow manufacturers to optimise their stock control and maximise production capacity.

Beyond these technologies, manufacturers should consider improving the skills of their labourers, not only in technology implementation but also in data analysis.

What are Reed Tradex’s visions within the ASEAN ­market, including Vietnam in ­particular?

Exhibitions enable manufacturing and supporting industries in Vietnam to upgrade productivity in factories by being technology and innovation platforms. This has resulted in warm welcomes from participants and continually higher numbers of exhibitions in Vietnam, especially events for niche markets.

Reed Tradex believes in the power of face-to-face business networking and interactions, and our events are designed to induce and foster business partnership opportunities as well as learning and inspirations through technologies, machinery, and solutions that we carefully select to participate in our events from around the world.

Each exhibition has a clear content direction which is catered specifically for the Vietnamese market. The show content differs from one year to another. For example, for our upcoming Vietnam Manufacturing Expo on August 14-16 in Hanoi, the content will reflect the event’s “Smart Factory” theme. Meanwhile, METALEX Vietnam, which will run October 14-16 in Ho Chi Minh City, will be hosted under the theme of “Rising with Innovations”.

In addition to being technology platforms, our exhibitions have also become annual gatherings of industry leaders and players in each of the markets and regions that they serve. Our participants come together to exchange experiences and pain points they are seeking solutions for, by utilising our concurrent seminars, networking functions, and business matchmaking services.

For Vietnam, our exhibitions mainly focus on the metalworking industry, electronics manufacturing, and on subcontracting. We are currently looking into other industries that we think can benefit from our platforms and activities. We have total confidence in the emerging Vietnamese market, which has become one of the hottest points of attraction for investors in the world today.

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