smart manufacturing

(Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

Enabling smart systems to ensure smart manufacturing in Malaysia

Smart manufacturing in Malaysia is gaining traction as more companies are hoping to boost their productivity. With Covid-19 impacting manufacturers, more companies realize the potential they can gain by adopting smart manufacturing.

According to a report from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), Malaysia remains a key regional destination for high-value manufacturing and global services. This shows the enormous growth potential the nation has for those areas, and the continued need for industries to begin their digital transformation journey if they have not.

The reality is though, for smart manufacturing to be successful, businesses need to first look to implementing smart systems.

“The fact that the manufacturing industry has tended to maintain legacy systems and processes. Since last year, businesses have faced new challenges in their work including supply chain disruptions, and new social distancing protocols, just to name a few, which have reduced their efficiency and in the long run, impacted production,” said Steven Loh, Senior Sales Director, Relationship Segment at Lenovo Malaysia.

Steven explains that businesses must evaluate their manufacturing chain to keep up with the challenges, but it is not a matter of browsing a catalog and picking out the latest technology to implement. There are several considerations that businesses must look at when deciding what type of technology that they should invest in:

  • Businesses must understand their business challenges A business needs to understand the end-solution they intend to achieve; whether it is to optimize productivity, reduce operational costs or improve the customer experience. It is only when they have identified their primary objectives and challenges can they identify the technology that they need to invest in.
  • Investing in Smart Systems Technology is everchanging and there will be newer innovations that are introduced. However, for larger businesses, overhauling systems in favor of new ones in a short cycle may not be sustainable. As such, they must consider investing in products with increased usability through predictive AI/Machine Learning.
  • Engaging an expert to evaluate business solution needs Employing an expert can help you in evaluating your business needs and the type of solutions that would work best. This helps reduce the concerns for the business owners and ultimately, saves them from investing in the wrong technology which could be detrimental in the long run.

Interestingly, Steven pointed out that beyond the cost, businesses might be reluctant to adopt newer technology due to several factors. The conversion of systems from the current ones to a new system is often a complex process. For many businesses, these systems would have been in place for many years or are a legacy system. Businesses would be even more hesitant especially if the system has worked out for the businesses to date. However, as the demands of the global marketplace change, businesses that do not adapt may fall behind.

Steven Loh, Senior Sales Director, Head of Relationship Segment, Lenovo Malaysia

Separately, as new systems are implemented, Steven highlighted that retraining of staff must be conducted to ensure that they can operate the new systems. The amount of money and time invested in retraining these staff may lead to reduced production output during the first few months that the new systems are implemented. If businesses look at the long-term benefit, they may be met with increased efficiency, agility, and productivity from the new systems.

“Recently, Lenovo worked with a local Malaysian corporation to adapt, innovate, and scale with agility to meet the rising demand for their product amidst the pandemic. By working with Lenovo, the customer was able to deploy a high-availability infrastructure allowing factory production to run uninterrupted, non-stop around the clock, without having their employees work overtime and allowing them to work-from-home in order,” added Steven.

At Tech World 2021, Lenovo also announced the expansion of their “Everything-as-a-Service” business model with Lenovo TruScale to provide a truly global solution that makes everything, from the pocket to the cloud, accessible via a single contract. Lenovo TruScale now offers businesses of all sizes the flexibility they need to stay competitive with a scalable, cloud-like consumption model and predictable payment options for hardware and service inclusions. This transition to a fully integrated as-a-service strategy brings to life the company’s vision of bringing its smart devices, smart infrastructure, and smart solutions businesses together in a new way for customers – addressing common business challenges and providing IT leaders with the performance and flexibility to pay-as-you-grow.

“With Lenovo TruScale, IT leaders’ infrastructure solutions are fully managed, giving customers the advantages of an on-premises cloud environment along with the peace of mind around data management in a hybrid environment,” explained Steven.

5G and smart manufacturing

The future of IT is strongly rooted in the adoption of 5G. In fact, according to PSB Research, 91% of IT managers believe 5G will drive new products and services that have yet to be invented. Moreover, a report from IHS Economics predicts that the 5G value chain is expected to contribute 3.5 Trillion USD of new economic output and 22 million jobs by 2035. Today’s technological challenges only further emphasize the value of this next-gen technology, positioning its integration as not only a timely solution but a representation of what is to come.

“Companies around the world continue to gear up for 5G. We are also investing in 5G for its faster connectivity, greater capacity, ultra-low latency, and improved reliability and flexibility, suitable for applications such as IoT infrastructure, rural/edge enablement, and AR/VR.  Though exceedingly valuable, the adoption of 5G is complex, costly, and time-intensive. Lenovo is working on making the process more affordable and efficient by providing a variety of devices and different price points,” highlighted Steven.

As 5G will enable smart systems to improve smart manufacturing, most use cases are being developed and tested among Malaysian companies as well. This included the use of autonomous robots such as cobots in packaging, automated machinery in factories as well as smart sensors to provide real time statistics.