Written Vincent Tang, regional vice president, Asia
Malaysia’s vision of becoming a digital economy is one of the key factors driving business growth in the country, which is ranked 15 among 190 economies in the World Bank’s 2019 Ease of Doing Business report. Recently, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the government’s launch of a new National Policy on Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD) to support the country’smanufacturing sector make the leap to Industry 4.0. With this policy now in place, Malaysia is poised to become one of the world’s leading destinations for high-tech industry by 2025.
The Malaysian government’s role in this fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) transformation process will help propel manufacturing businesses—especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)—on their journey towards Industry 4.0. Indeed, a recent study reveals how 65 percent of Malaysia’s SMEs plan are priotising future technology investments over other fixed assets.
To understand how technology adoption can benefit manufacturing businesses, let’s take a look at how investing in technology can help organisations to scale, and drive efficiencies and growth.
1. Technology automates otherwise manual tasks
In today’s fast-paced manufacturing environment, technology can help free up valuable employee time by generating efficiencies. Over half of business decision-makers agree that robotics—for example, on the production line—have the ability to automate repetitive or mundane tasks that might otherwise take up significant employee time and effort.
2. Technology helps manufacturers plug a burgeoning skills gap
According to our research, the majority of manufacturers (78 percent) admit that attracting top talent with the right skill sets is no easy task, suggesting that the sector might soon suffer from a lack of skills and internal knowledge.
To address this predicted shortfall in workforce talent, many businesses agree that technology—such as robotics on the factory floor—can save valuable time and resources.
3. Technology provides crucial data
With the growth of the smart factory with its connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, we are witnessing a huge growth in the amount of data generated along the production line. The performance logs from a single works machine can generate around five gigabytes (GB) of data per week, and a typical smart factory can produce around five million GB a week—the equivalent of more than 300,000 16 GB iPhones.
To take advantage of these big data benefits, around a fifth (19 percent) of businesses we surveyed utilised a single core business system, such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, to make good use of the data available to them.
4. Technology makes it possible to quickly expand overseas or to new locations
Overseas expansion can be difficult to navigate, with one-in-ten businesses admitting that working with overseas customers and suppliers represented a significant challenge—particularly for businesses with large supply chains, or those that need to address tax obligations across multiple regions. Similarly, a third of the businesses with operations in multiple territories reported that cooperation across different parts of the business represented a major difficulty.
Having a flexible ERP solution in place is the key to managing global processes effectively. Meanwhile, closing the communication gap to conduct global business can be achieved by taking advantage of multilanguage ERP systems that make it easier to interact with international colleagues, suppliers, and customers
5. Technology allows businesses to adapt
Deploying the right tools, whether that is cognitive technology or software, can bring major improvements in business performance—making it possible to undertake forecasting, scheduling and stock replenishment dynamically in response to customer demands. This ability to respond in real-time enables companies to accurately control their manufacturing and sales order processes, and drive up return-on-investment.
In an environment where global giants like Amazon continue to disrupt markets and supply chains, new technologies are proving crucial for getting businesses fit to compete, adapt, and grow. However, for any new technology implementation to deliver positive business outcomes, the platform selected must be flexible—connecting management with the factory floor and enabling project teams to collaborate across borders—and capable of scaling and adapting fast to support evolving business practices. All requirements that are fuelling the adoption of cloud-based ERP solutions by businesses of all sizes seeking to keep pace with new technologies and rising customer expectations.
From driving production efficiencies to improving information-sharing across the business, forward- thinking manufacturing businesses are already starting to take advantage of industry-transforming technologies such as the IoT, big data and AI. Linking these systems to a next-generation ERP solution can help improve profit margins, open new revenue streams, and improve brand reputations. Making it possible to build new capabilities that fuel future growth.
Vincent has been Regional Vice President for Epicor Asia since 2017 and has over 25-year of working experience in the software industry.