Asia is recognized as the manufacturing hub of the world. Many Western corporations have migrated their manufacturing activities to China and other Asian countries to lower their labor cost.
Asia could therefore be a strong driving force for the Industrial IoT market (IIoT) which some are calling the Industry 4.0 revolution.
Countries such as Singapore and China are embracing these connected devices. Bringing the potential of automation, these devices could increase productivity, reduce waste and subsequently deliver better products or services.
The IIoT market is set to reach US$319.62 billion with a 8.15% growth rate from 2014 to 2020.
Industry 4.0 : China Remains A Global Force
China’s expertise in manufacturing is indisputable, producing 90% of the world’s computers.
In addition, the country has become a global innovation hub, especially in the hardware sector. Check out our visit to the hardware capital of Shenzhen, China.
Startups involved in IoT have found a thriving ecosystem in Shenzhen, China. This ecosystem enables them to refine ideas, create prototypes and manufacture their products at lower costs.
Moreover, Shenzhen houses the entire hardware supply chain. This involves retailers to component suppliers, factories, IoT incubators and a growing makers community.
“China is still the manufacturing centre of the world, but there’s no doubt that more and more innovation is coming out of the country at a rapid pace. The goal is to locate where innovation occurs so we can participate in the supply chain.”
Flextronics is a Singapore-based giant of electronic manufacturing, second only to Foxconn. The company, which is also the main manufacturer of Lenovo products, is planning to launch a startup accelerator in China.
Flextronics has been one of the pioneers of industrial IoT. It began incubating an intrapreneurial IIoT project Elementum in 2012, which then became a spin-off of the company.
“We were inspired by cloud companies such as Salesforce or Workday, a startup managing HR and financial data in the cloud, which is now valued more than $15bn. Supply chain and logistics are a bigger industry, so in case we thought that if we manage to apply the same combination of cloud-based software and fast execution, results could be huge.”
The project grew to a 100-employee startup within 2 years. In 2014, its value grew to US$220 million after its Series B funding.
Industry 4.0 : Singapore’s IIoT solution vendors
Facing various constraints on hiring foreign labour and the high labour costs, Singaporean manufacturers are embracing the advent of IoT.
The Singapore Manufacturing Consortium (SIMCO) has assembled some of the most advanced solutions providers in Singapore to spur local manufacturers to become smart factories in the future.
SIMCO is a non-profit organization formed in July 2015 which aims to be a one-stop shop for manufacturers seeking manufacturing solutions.
“We’re assembling the best proven and tested solutions from the most advanced local companies to help propel Singapore manufacturers ahead in the Industry 4.0 race.”
says Willson Deng, the Chairman and spokesperson for SIMCO.
”It’s a growing period for us. We have clients in Singapore and in the US and we are opening offices in Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Philippines”
Industry 4.0 : The Road Ahead for Singapore
According to Willson, the goal is to build an ecosystem of manufacturing solution vendors around a real-time data infrastructure.
This could be the determining factor in giving Singapore a competitive advantage to lead the Industry 4.0 revolution.
“Singapore’s manufacturing industry sits at a very critical time in its advancement. It has matured to a stage where fighting alone on cost and quality may be a losing one based on surrounding competition and global trends. Singapore has the opportunity to transform itself into a data connected manufacturing powerhouse. With this infrastructure, manufacturers can quickly tap on new innovative solutions from any vendor without concerns about integration and provide boosts in productivity, cost reductions and quality improvement”.
Singapore’s developed digital infrastructure, forward-thinking government and government agencies such as the recently established Government Technology Agency (GovTech) are going to be important competitive advantages for the state-country to become a leader in Industrial IoT.
Moreover, Singapore hosted the IoT Show Asia 2016 on 1-2 September. The event drew focus on four industry sectors offering significant IoT technology potential – namely smart cities, smart manufacturing, smart logistics and smart worksites.
Industry 4.0 : India Pushes Towards Smart Factories
India plans to become the next manufacturing hub with its ‘Make in India’ initiative launched in 2014, making her a potential leader of the Industrial IoT revolution as well.
The initiative aims to encourage MNCs and other companies to manufacture their products in India.
Altizon’s Datonis platform connects devices such as factory machines using a series of sensors and software development kits (SDKs).
Entrib’s main product ShopWorx aims to make manufacturing shop floors more efficient by providing real-time control and visibility.
Covacsis Technologies has developed an Intelligent Plant Framework solution that provides real time data from machines on the shop floor as well, allowing manufacturers to cut down on wastage and organise production flows.
Industry 4.0 : Global Players Invest in India
Most notably, Bosch GmbH CEO Volkmar Denner announced a Industry 4.0 revolution within the company. He defines Industry 4.0 as the use of networks and devices in factories with zero or little human intervention in manufacturing products.
Bosch intends transform its 250 factories into smart factories, including those in India.
Bosch has piloted a smart factory in a components plant in Homburg. The plant boasts to show the efficiency of using robotics and guiding production cycle through automated platforms.
“Connected factories will sync global production and supply chains. It works on real-time information flow and throws in opportunities from creating analytics frameworks to software platforms that drive efficiency.”
says Vijay Ratnaparkhe , MD of Robert Bosch Engineering India Ltd.
In addition, he mentions that software is the core of today’s solutions with both industrial and household applications.
In India, many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have 40% of plant work done using robotics. They intend to drive this number up to 70% over the next decade.
Today, the average Indian manufacturer spends less than 3% of net profits on research. This is a number that we anticipate to increase over the next decade.