APAC’s Industry 4.0 manufacturing trends

Asia Pacific is in prime position to take advantage of next-generation manufacturing technologies.

That’s according to a new document from the World Economic Forum. The Readiness for the Future of Production Report 2018 (pdf) identifies Singapore as an ‘early leader’ in its manufacturing transformations. The city-state is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of high-tech goods. To augment its lofty position, the government has put in place a Smart Industry Readiness Index. This is described as the ‘world’s first Industry 4.0 tool that is developed by the government for nationwide transformation of industrial sectors’.

Factors and drivers

Japan’s high ranking may be of little surprise – it has a long and proud tradition of manufacturing. However, it’s the country’s looming demographic crisis (35% of the population will be aged 65+ by 2100) which is helping drive its industrial transformation. The government has launched a Society 5.0 initiative, which invites enterprises to ‘come up with brand-new and innovative ideas, to provide the world with solutions’. These include looking at ways to maximise resources and optimising processes. The obvious place to start is by identifying opportunities to use machines and robotics in place of humans.

Meanwhile, Australia and Hong Kong are cited as ‘High Potential Countries/Economies’. The countries have been graded on ‘the ability to capitalise on future production opportunities, mitigate risks and challenges, and be resilient and agile in responding to unknown future shocks.’

Why now’s the time for smart manufacturing

Half of APAC manufacturers are expected to have smart factories by 2022. These are typified by innovations such as automation, predictive maintenance, wearables, mobile technology, gathering and using data from production and supply chain processes. Connected devices and smart cities will also play a key role – IDC predicts APAC to be ‘the frontline of IoT’ by 2020.

Long-term vision

For APAC, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is clearly under way. There’s cultural readiness, along with emerging technologies that are increasing the pace of change. IoT, artificial intelligence, robotics – these and others offer tantalising opportunities for future collaboration between APAC countries.

The rise in smart manufacturing is reflected by the rise in smart tools. This is a market estimated to be worth $16.15 billion by the end of 2021. Featuring technology such as 3D printing, software-defined networks (shifting from hardware-based), sensors. All examples of where traditional barriers, such as the size of physical manufacturing plants, are eliminated when things are digitised. Naturally, underpinning these developments will be the next-generation data centres.

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