Thailand has built a strong manufacturing industry by accessing low-cost materials and labor in recent decades. But it is through technology that the country hopes to maintain and continue its comparative advantage.
Electronics and the auto industry have been keys to the growth of Thai manufacturing. Motorcycle enthusiasts know that the iconic English brand Triumph has been building bikes at Thai factories for some time. And this trend is only going to continue under a recent global restructuring plan in favor of moving more production out of Britain.
As Thailand embraces the next phase of its growth as a manufacturing center, it won’t be just the traditional arbitrages on the cost which drive success. The country is investing significantly in next-generation smart factory technology enabled by advanced robotics, the internet of things, automation, and critically through private 5G networks.
The transformation won’t happen overnight and will take significant investment. Thailand’s Digital Economy and Society Ministry has unveiled a 5G technology alliance that aims to transform 5G showcases into real use cases with a target of 10 rollouts by the end of 2022.
There are currently 20 development projects under the alliance created in April of this year, part of Thailand’s 4.0 strategy, which aims to make the nation the ASEAN Digital Hub.
Transform and revitalize
Recognizing what it required, Thai telco DTAC launched three 5G IoT solutions in the latter part of this year to transform and revitalize the Thai industry.
The first of these was smart factory solutions, along with smart logistics and smart utilities, all underpinned with 5G Private Networks with edge computing which can enable large-scale IoT, AI, ML, augmented and virtual reality, and real-time data processing.
Advanced Info Service, a leading Thai digital service provider, also wants to be a player in smart factories and has teamed up with China’s ZTE to build a high-level 5G network in Thailand.
Along with Suranaree University, the two partners combined to trial a 5G Smart Factory pilot and make their resources available to Thai companies wanting to explore smart factory implementations.
“Already that site is delivering a 40% increase in on-time delivery for customers, energy savings of 21%, and 44% less downtime”
Suranaree University is located in Nakhon Ratchasima, an intersection between Thailand’s Eastern and Northeastern Economic Corridors, and the province hosts three major industrial estates. The university already offers courses and research collaborations in AI and IoT and will now provide businesses access to 5G capabilities as they transform their factories.
Another leading Chinese telco, Huawei, has signed an MoU with robotics company Siasun Robotics. The agreement will see it provide the first commercialized 5G factory solution in Thailand, developing industrial software platforms that can be rolled out at scale on the Huawei cloud with 5G connectivity.
The partners aim to create a 5G smart factory center of excellence in Thailand, offering services across manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, mining, and oil and gas.
In October, Taiwanese telecoms operator Chunghwa Telcom deployed a private 5G network for Thai electronics manufacturer Delta electronics, in collaboration with state-owned telco National Telecom, in Delta’s factory at Samutprakarn on the Gulf of Thailand.
Delta provides components to Apple and Tesla, among other customers, and has around 200 facilities worldwide, many of which will ultimately use the operational template implemented at the factory.
Augmented reality solutions
Elsewhere in the world, the advantages of 5G-enabled smart factories are becoming more evident.
Schneider Electric is a global leader in this area and began a smart factory project at its Square D subsidiary in Kentucky, USA, which manufactures electronic components.
Schneider claims the project has eliminated paperwork by 90% and reduced repair times by 20%.
An augmented reality system delivers live operational data on any machine in the factory by scanning a QR code, informing on how close a motor is to burning out, a seal to blowing, or a bearing to failing.
Schneider has a program to transform 100 discrete manufacturing sites around the world, one of which is its AVEVA plant in Batam, Indonesia.
Already that site is delivering a 40% increase in on-time delivery for customers, energy savings of 21%, and 44% less downtime.
The results show that while Thailand’s ambition is big, the global competition is significant, but the benefits of smart factories are real.
Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and the NextGenConnectivity editor. He remains fascinated with how businesses reinvent themselves through digital technology to solve existing issues and change their entire business models. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: cdotrends.com-Lachlan Colquhoun
Editor: IPR Daily-Ann