Thailand has built a strong manufacturing industry by accessing low-cost materials and labor over the past decades. But it is through technology that the country hopes to maintain and perpetuate its comparative advantage.
Electronics and the automotive industry have been key to the growth of Thai industry. Motorcycle enthusiasts know that the iconic English brand Triumph has been manufacturing bikes in Thai factories for some time. And that trend will only continue under a recent global restructuring plan to move more production out of Britain.
As Thailand enters the next phase of its growth as a manufacturing hub, it won’t just be traditional cost trade-offs that 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 will not happen overnight and will require significant investment. Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has unveiled a 5G technology alliance that aims to turn 5G storefronts into real-world use cases with a target of 10 deployments by the end of 2022.
There are currently 20 development projects under the alliance formed in April this year as part of Thailand’s 4.0 strategy, which aims to make the nation the digital hub of ASEAN.
Transform and revitalize
Recognizing what it needed, Thai telecommunications company DTAC launched three 5G IoT solutions in the latter part of this year to transform and revitalize Thailand’s industry.
The first of these was smart factory solutions, as well as smart logistics and smart utilities, all underpinned by 5G private networks with edge computing that can enable large-scale IoT, AI, ML, augmented and virtual reality and real-time data processing.
Advanced Info Service, one of Thailand’s leading digital service providers, also wants to be a smart factory player and has teamed up with China’s ZTE to build a high-level 5G network in Thailand.
Together with the University of Suranaree, the two partners have teamed up to test a 5G Smart Factory pilot and make their resources available to Thai companies wishing to explore smart factory implementations.
“This site is already delivering a 40% increase in on-time delivery for customers, 21% energy savings and 44% less downtime”
Suranaree University is located in Nakhon Ratchasima, an intersection between Thailand’s eastern and northeast economic corridors, and the province is home to three major industrial zones. The university already offers courses and research collaborations in AI and IoT and will now provide companies with access to 5G capabilities as they transform their factories.
Another major Chinese telecom operator, Huawei, has signed a memorandum of understanding with robotics firm Siasun Robotics. The deal will enable it to provide Thailand’s first commercialized 5G factory solution, developing industrial software platforms that can be deployed 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 in manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, mining, oil and gas.
In October, Taiwanese telecom operator Chunghwa Telcom rolled out a private 5G network for Thai electronics maker Delta electronics, in conjunction with state-owned telecom operator National Telecom, at Delta’s factory in Samutprakarn, Thailand. Gulf of Thailand.
Delta supplies components to Apple and Tesla, among other customers, and has approximately 200 installations worldwide, many of which will eventually use the operational model implemented at the factory.
Augmented reality solutions
Elsewhere in the world, the benefits of 5G-enabled smart factories are becoming more evident.
Schneider Electric is a world leader in this field and has launched a smart factory project at its Square D subsidiary in Kentucky in the United States, which manufactures electronic components.
Schneider says the project eliminated paperwork by 90% and reduced repair times by 20%.
An augmented reality system provides live operational data on any machine in the plant by scanning a QR code, informing how close a motor is to burning out, a seal to popping or a bearing to failing.
Schneider has a transformation program of 100 discrete manufacturing sites around the world, one of which is its AVEVA factory in Batam, Indonesia.
This site is already delivering a 40% increase in on-time delivery for customers, 21% energy savings and 44% less downtime.
The results show that while Thailand’s ambition is high, global competition is high, but the benefits of smart factories are real.
Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australian and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and editor of NextGenConnectivity. He remains fascinated by how companies are reinventing themselves through digital technology to solve existing problems and change their entire business models. You can reach him at [email protected]Mr.
Photo credit: iStockphoto/Traitov
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