Igniting 5G manufacturing in Thailand

Asia's Tech News Daily
Igniting 5G manufacturing in Thailand

Igniting 5G manufacturing in Thailand By Michael Macdonald, Chief Digital Officer and Executive Consultant, Huawei Asia Pacific

Manufacturing, and more widely, Industrials, are set to benefit the most from global digital transformation. The convergence of 5G, AI and cloud have resulted in a multitude of use cases that address the biggest challenges for Industrials from difficulties around quality control, high cost for machine maintenance, connection stability, data security, and rising labor cost; and the time to transform…is now.

In 2020, Thailand’s GDP was just under 16 trillion THB, with Industrials making up 30%. IT spending accounts for 4% of Thailand GDP with Industrials forecasted to be the top IT spender in 2021; 20% higher than Finance and 80% higher than ICT.

While the main thrust of this spend is to digitally transform traditional businesses and leverage new cloud, big data and artificial intelligence methodologies, at the foundation is the need for an agile, mission-critical, and SLA driven infrastructure.

5G combines several critical elements including ultra low latency for real-time control, massively scalable connectivity for the IoT, network slicing for secure virtualised network segmentation and mobile edge computing for improved responsiveness; and for the first time in the history of mobile networking, allows reliable business-grade mobile communications that match the needs of vertical industries.

In China, 5G has been deployed in over 200 factories with measurable benefit to performance and cost. Specifically at Midea, 5G replaced traditional Wi-Fi for AGVs for an 8% improvement in logistics efficiency and a 10% O&M cost decrease due to increased connection stability. At IKD, a leading supplier of automotive aluminium die castings used in 70% of all cars, 5G replaced over 10km of cables connecting 600 machines reducing cable maintenance costs to near zero and increasing the product yield rate by 10%.

While 5G Manufacturing is still developing, the pain points are easily recognised as manufacturers in electronics, food and beverage production, automotive, and more, look for ways to shake off the hangover of 2020, increase quality and productivity, and decrease costs. A 5G infrastructure provides the foundation for agile, reliable services and is a critical building block to unlock some exciting use cases for manufacturing.

5G Robotics in production lines represents the largest value to manufacturers and can immediately be used to ensure production consistency and reduce labor costs. Industrial robots are mainly adopted in manufacturing factories with high demand, repetitive and high precision tasks such as automotive, food, and electronics, aligning with 3 of the 4 largest manufacturing sectors in Thailand. Using articulated arms programmed for industrial tasks such as welding, material handling, packaging, and assembly lines, robotics requires stable high-bandwidth low-latency connectivity to enable flexibility and consistency of automation processes.

5G AR Industrial Maintenance uses cloud Augmented Reality technology for industrial maintenance, and utilises ultra high-resolution cameras via a high-bandwidth, low-latency connection to provide maintenance assistance from specialists in distant locations. With a lack of local specialists, difficulty attracting foreign specialists, and the high-cost incurred from machine downtime, 5G AR Industrial Maintenance facilitates instant machine maintenance while allowing specialists to work in different locations.

5G Industrial Campus provides fixed wireless access for private use and delivers ultra-reliable, high-speed, and low-latency connectivity for smart manufacturing solutions with various 5G applications. Notably used for industrial estates that provide network infrastructure for manufacturers, 5G Industrial Campus provides a single converged flexible and secure wireless infrastructure able to meet the ever-changing requirements of manufacturers.

5G Remote Controlled Forklifts utilise 4K cameras and high-bandwidth connectivity for real-time teleoperation of forklifts from remote operations rooms. Used in warehouses to lift equipment or inventory in restricted environments, such as food cold storage and in harmful areas, 5G Remote Controlled Forklifts connected via high-bandwidth low-latency connections provide improved safety and efficiency.

Whether it’s 5G Robotics for safer, more efficient production lines, 5G AR Remote Maintenance for instant expert industrial maintenance with minimal downtime, a 5G Industrial Campus that provides a flexible, secure and stable network, or 5G Remote Controlled Forklifts to save costs and improve safety, these 4 common use cases can serve as a guiding light for focused adoption. In fact, a 2025 forecast shows these 4 5G use cases alone could produce as much as 1.4 billion THB in additional service revenue.

To further encourage 5G adoption and develop an active ecosystem in Thailand, Huawei has established the 5G Ecosystem Innovation Center with DEPA. This facility works closely with Open Labs in China and around the world and benefits from use case and knowledge sharing from global partners. Open to all, the 5G EIC already has over 70 partners and serves as an incubator for 5G innovation and a Test as a Service platform.

The readiness of the 5G ecosystem in Thailand further illustrates that the time is right to address regulation and policy to accelerate the adoption of new ICT. Resonating with Thailand’s 4.0 strategy, which comprises Smart Industry, Smart City and Smart People, technology investment and support is necessary to achieve the fully-transformed Thailand target in 2027 with Industrial 4.0.

Looking at Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor, representing 40% of Thailand’s GDP and the largest region for manufacturing, the local government and regulator should focus 5G adoption and help transform the EEC into an advanced manufacturing hub for R&D and commercialisation of automation and robotics and smart systems.

As the largest contributor to Thailand’s total GDP, the significance of Industrials, and specifically manufacturing, to the economy is undeniable. Thailand’s Industrial 4.0 Initiative with the aim to fully transform Thailand by 2027 can only be met with active ecosystem development and effective policies around 5G that encourage adoption. The EEC is the perfect starting ground, led by electronics, food and beverage processing, and automotive, to turbocharge manufacturing in Thailand, leverage new ICT, and usher in Industry 4.0 throughout the country.

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