Advanced Asian countries well positioned for Industry 4.0

The industrialised economies of Asia are well-poised to benefit from advanced manufacturing and emerging technologies, but true industrial transformation remains nascent

Singapore, Japan and China are among the world’s top 25 countries well-poised to gain from advanced manufacturing and emerging technologies, such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, robotics and additive manufacturing, a study has found.

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) inaugural Readiness for the future of production report, Japan topped the list of 100 countries and economies in terms of structure of production, a measure of a country’s scale and complexity of production. China and Singapore were ranked fifth and 11th in the list respectively.

When it comes to drivers of production that enable a country to transform production systems in the so-called fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, Singapore came in second behind the US, while Japan and China were ranked 16th and 25th respectively.

The report, developed in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, noted that leading countries are at the forefront of designing, testing and pioneering emerging technologies. Many have also developed government-led strategies to capitalise on Industry 4.0.

The Japanese government, for example, has included connected industries in its Society 5.0 strategy of using emerging technology to transform industries and society, while China has evolved its capabilities from producing low-cost goods to more advanced products, according to the report.

“The key opportunity for leading countries is to achieve a ‘first mover’ advantage. Those that most effectively push the frontier and convert readiness into actual transformation can reap tremendous benefits,” it said.

True transformation, however, is still nascent. The report noted that although there are early leaders to learn from, these countries are still navigating the early stages of transformation.

“Even the most advanced and complex countries are not strong in every part of their country, as different sub-regions have different levels of readiness. Furthermore, every country has a specific industry footprint today (such as food and beverage, automotive) and no country covers all industries,” it added.

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  • Nearly half of APAC manufacturers expect to support a fully connected factory by 2022, nearly triple what it is today, according to a study by Zebra Technologies.
  • HP has opened a facility in Singapore to oversee over 50 print supplies manufacturing lines and test the use of robots, data analytics and 3D printing to improve production efficiency.
  • Malaysia is exploring the use of IoT for agriculture in ASEAN, driven by collaboration between government and the private sector.
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In the ASEAN region, for example, 60% of manufacturing activity is concentrated in just five sectors: food and beverage, chemicals and chemical products, electronics, motor vehicles, and rubber and plastic products.

Member states also have varying degrees of economic development and readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the report noted.

Backed by a strong institutional framework, Singapore currently leads the ASEAN region in terms of structure of production. The country continues to be forward-looking, having recently announced the Singapore smart industry readiness index to help companies evaluate their current manufacturing capabilities, and map out the next steps in adopting advanced technologies and processes.

Singapore’s strong manufacturing base has also drawn the likes of HP to set up a facility in the city-state to oversee global print supplies manufacturing and test the use of robots, data analytics and 3D printing to improve production efficiency.

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