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Malaysia's manufacturing sector output grew by 3.9 per cent year-on-year in January 2016. While the sector has been experiencing steady growth during the past few years, more can be done to ensure that growth is sustained in the long run. On top of challenges such as the rising cost of raw materials, it appears that the integration of automation or deployment of industrial robotics in particular, is also lacking in Malaysia.
At the recent Robot Day 2015 exhibition and workshop, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mentioned that while the awareness of robot programming skills among Malaysians is higher as compared to a few years back, the country has still some way to go in attaining advanced economy status.
With the introduction of compact, flexible and user-friendly robots, Malaysian manufacturers now have the option of increasing productivity while providing their workforce with opportunities to upgrade their skill sets. The future of manufacturing in Malaysia has begun to take shape but it is just as important that manufacturers truly recognise the opportunities that are available to them and take the lead from the aerospace industry, for example.
Manufacturing in the aerospace industry
2016 will be a significant year for Malaysia's aerospace industry, as it marks the launch of the National Aerospace Blueprint 2016-2030, a strategic development plan to gear the nation towards their vision of becoming Southeast Asia's leading aerospace hub.
In line with efforts to develop Malaysia into a high-tech economy, this project also includes plans to construct a pre-production and technology development centre to further support their exploration into advanced manufacturing processes and automation technologies.
A high-tech economy
This is where robotic technologies come into the picture, particularly in the aerospace industry, where the production process could be situated in dangerous environments such as engine foundries, laser-cutting rigs and forming presses. The modern day industrial robot can be designed to integrate into existing production environments including aerospace applications to perform quality control checks via a visual monitoring process, for example.
The reduction of production time coupled with enhanced precision results in greater productivity and less wastage. Especially in today's competitive market where the cost of raw materials are weighing down on bottom lines, it is critical that these robots are nimble enough to give manufacturers the flexibility to alter their production layout on short notice yet maintain process efficiencies as well as the safety levels that are required. In this way, the manufacturing scene in Malaysia will gradually transform into a high-tech and competitive industry that safeguards the viability of local operations.
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