Archive for the ‘Industry 4.0’ Category

Creating holistic talents to ride the waves of change.

Sunday, November 19th, 2017
(From left): Prof Syed Ahmad, Prof Barton, Prof Downes, Goh, Khairil Anwar, Prof Smith and Prof Britton.

(From left): Prof Syed Ahmad, Prof Barton, Prof Downes, Goh, Khairil Anwar, Prof Smith and Prof Britton.

The key to building a disruption-ready workforce is to produce adaptable, and resilient critical thinkers, with strong skills in communication. Tomorrow’s graduates must be balanced individuals who can work in a team, say education experts at a recent roundtable session.

THE Malaysian Employers Federation has warned of retrenchments, while the World Economic Forum predicts that automation will kill five million jobs in the next three years.

The threat of disruptive technology and the need for graduates who can take advantage of new innovations, was highlighted at the Nov 9 EduCity roundtable discussion in Johor Baru.

Explaining disruptive technology as a process whereby a product, or service, that starts at the bottom of a market, moves up to displace established competitors, Star Media Group editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh who moderated the hour-long discussion, looked at how it has impacted the higher education industry, and traditional fields like law, medicine, science, business, finance, accounting, and construction.

Panelists were Management Development Institute of Singapore (Malaysia Campus) CEO Prof Datuk Dr Syed Ahmad Hussein, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia provost-CEO Prof Roger Barton, University of Reading Malaysia provost Prof Tony Downes, Iskandar Investment Berhad president-CEO Datuk Khairil Anwar Ahmad, University of Southampton Malaysia interim CEO Prof Peter Smith, and Raffles University Iskandar president Prof Dr Graeme Britton.

The universities are part of EduCity – a vibrant enclave of renowned tertiary institutions, and top notch supporting facilities, in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor.

Comparing EduCity with Dubai’s Academic City, Prof Syed Ahmad highlights the importance of internationalisation.

Like Malaysia, Dubai started over a decade ago with only a few institutions. Now the Academic City is a self-contained village with many international branch campuses that are moving towards internal educational exchanges within the village itself, he adds.

This area need to be explored, he says, suggesting that there should be credit transfers between the universities.

Goh shares that there has been much talk of industries going bust, or losing their relevance.

She cites an incident where the daughter of Joseph Tsai, the co-founder and executive vice-chairman of the Alibaba Group, asked her father on what she should be studying at university.

“Statistics, and psychology,” was his reply, says Goh.

“Graduates, Tsai reasoned, must understand data, and have an insight into how the mind works,” Goh shares.

The lack of teamwork and interpersonal skills, says Prof Barton, has hindered development and resulted in people working in silos.

“If we improve those generic skills, and allow medical students to work with engineering students – for example, we’d make far greater advances. It’s less about what we should study, and more about what generic skills we need from our degrees.”

But the study of numeracy, and human behaviour, the panellists agreed, are important, and form part of most courses. Critical thinking, as well as communication, and problem-solving skills, are crucial too, they say. While digital technology has made its way into education, the extent of its use, and impact, depends on changing student needs and industry demands, they feel.

Prof Britton says universities must change the way they teach – especially the business schools because disruptive technology has given birth to new business models.

Exploring other interests

Stressing on the need for flexible inter-disciplinary learning, the panellists believe that students must be given opportunities to explore different interests. They need to socialise with those from other courses, participate in research, and enjoy a good study-life balance.

Adds Prof Smith: “Internationalisation is a big aspect of success. Look at the iPhone … UK software, US design, manufactured in China, and sold globally.”

Internationalisation, is what EduCity is doing, he shares.

“Interestingly, our students in Malaysia actually see themselves at an advantage over their UK counterparts,” says Prof Barton. “This is because they feel they have a more global idea of the subjects and their relevance, in the UK and South East Asia (SEA).

“In fact, it is a Malaysian student who topped the list of 453 doctors from the campus here and the UK, at our recent graduation. So EduCity and the global campus idea may be the best blend of SEA and UK,” observes Prof Barton.

Globalisation, and technological advances, are a reality that we need to take advantage of, Prof Syed Ahmad says as a matter-of-fact.

“You need grit, and strong fundamentals, so that you can learn and unlearn quickly. Pick up skills that you’re interested in that will allow you to adapt later on.”

While universities can facilitate character growth, Prof Downes says that children must be taught to think critically which is part of holistic education.

“We can’t teach resilience or stamina but we can give them opportunities to develop. Students must learn how to balance life with work. The most successful ones aren’t those who spend all their time studying. It’s those who lead balanced lives.”

He opines that students are the greatest single feature of technology transfer from university to the workplace.

“They learn alongside researchers who are at the forefront of technology, so they’re taking new ideas from university to industry.”

Disruptive technology brings change, and there’s a fear that many manual jobs are disappearing, agrees Prof Britton. But there will be different kinds of opportunities, he assures.

“When computers came, people said it would run the world and we’d be out of jobs. But computers have created more jobs instead.”

Revolutionary stage

Quantum computing and quantum technologies, Prof Smith predicts, will transform what we do in the future.

“We’re at an early stage of a revolution to create new companies and new industries.”

Innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship, are what computers can’t do yet, argues Prof Britton, so these are areas to focus on.

“It’s about ‘design thinking’ and coming up with clever ideas. Focus on basic principles, and character development, for life-long learning.”

There may come a time when doing things at the press of a button is fine, but at this stage of their development, students may better grasp lessons -– especially the basic principles, if they do it themselves, says Prof Downes.

by Raffles University Iskandar president Prof Dr Graeme Britton

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Get ready for new industrial revolution, says Kedah Sultan

Saturday, November 18th, 2017
Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Sallehuddin Sultan Badlishah reading his speech during the opening of the 30th Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) convocation ceremony, also present were his consort Sultanah Kedah, Tengku Maliha Tengku Ariff. Pix by Amran Hamid

SINTOK: Graduates of higher learning institutions should brace for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industrial 4.0) as the job market will largely involve robotics and automation technology, the Sultan of Kedah said.

Sultan Sallehuddin Sultan Badlishah said the challenges required all quarters to adopt an open mind on the changes and advances brought by the rapid development in technology.

However, the sultan reminded the graduates to embrace the changes based on religious values.

“Perhaps, many are still not aware about the Fourth Industrial Revolution which has been a focus of the government.

“Although the Fourth Industrial Revolution will generally make our life easier, the people have to brace the fact that their life and work will be heavily influenced by with robotics and automation advancement,” he said when opening the 30th Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) convocation ceremony here today.

Sultan Sallehuddin, who is also UUM chancellor, said the Industrial 4.0 was pushing for the current education system to be revamped in line with the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) agenda.

“The Higher Education Ministry is working on a policy to enhance Malaysia competitiveness and as a hub for Industrial 4.0 in Southeast Asia.


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Promoting Malaysian education

Sunday, October 8th, 2017
Idris having a light moment with participants after delivering his keynote speech. – Bernama

Idris having a light moment with participants after delivering his keynote speech. – Bernama

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh led a team of educators to Jakarta to share Malaysia’s success story in preparing graduates for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

MALAYSIA hopes to attract 12,000 Indonesian students to the country next year.

“We hope to increase the number of students to between 11,000 and 12,000 in 2018,” he said after delivering his keynote speech at the “Preparing for the Future of Modern Education: Sharing Experiences from Malaysia” seminar in Jakarta, on Monday.

There are some 9,000 Indonesians currently studying in Malaysia, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

Many public and private tertiary institutions took the opportunity to set up booths that were well patronised by Indonesian educationists.

Many public and private tertiary institutions took the opportunity to set up booths that were well patronised by Indonesian educationists.

“Our main selling point is that we’re good, and we’re affordable. We must make it known that our universities are of quality, but our costs are only 30% of what you’d pay to go to a European university,” he said, adding that some Malaysian universities were better than their European counterparts.

Stressing that Malaysia would never compromise on the quality of its education, he said local institutions were closely monitored to ensure its quality.

“We don’t just want to attract students to come here and study. We also want to make sure that we’re giving them quality education.”

He said Malaysia and Indonesia have much to learn from each other.

Both nations, he said, have thousands of academicians who should be doing research together.

“There’s big potential for joint research.”

He said an integrated, and comprehensive response, was crucial for new age academia.

Education must evolve and become more flexible. Higher education institutions must redesign themselves to meet future demands.

“We shared with Indonesian school counsellors, local university representatives, and schools heads, on how we’ve successfully redesigned our education system in line with the 4th Industrial Revolution. Not only was the attendance good, but they were very interested in what we’ve done.”

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Let’s be wiser about TVET

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

IF a parent can guide his child towards a white-collar job rather than blue-collar employment, chan­ces are he would do exactly that.

However, things are seldom that simple. White-collar positions do not guarantee happiness.

What if the choice is between the child being an underperforming and dissatisfied white-collar worker, and him being highly competent in a rewarding blue-collar role? Most parents, if not all of them, would prefer the latter outcome.

For that matter, even our ideas on the contrast between white-collar and blue-collar occupations need to evolve.

“In the emerging Information Age, both the nature of work and preparation for work are undergoing major changes, so that such black-and-white distinctions have become problematic,” says Unesco.

In other words, it is time for us to have a more enlightened view on the importance of technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

We will soon get more help in that aspect because the Government is coming up with a masterplan on TVET.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced this on Wednesday. The Human Resources Ministry will manage the implementation of the masterplan with the support of several other ministries whose areas of responsibility are closely linked to TVET.

The masterplan is part of a programme to transform TVET so that Malaysia’s workforce will have the quality and skills that can sustain the country’s competitiveness in a fast-changing world.

Najib said the transformation was necessary to face the new challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (also known as Industry 4.0) and the emergence of the digital economy.

There is already strong emphasis on TVET in pivotal government policies.

For example, education is a National Key Economic Area under the Economic Transformation Pro­gramme.

Part of the work on this front is to streamline TVET and promote the growth of TVET institutions. This way, our workforce will have high-value and specialised skills that will improve industrial innovation and productivity, which will be integral to Malaysia’s transformation into a high-income nation by 2020.

One of the 10 shifts outlined in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) is the push to make the TVET pathway as attractive and valued as university education.

According to the 11th Malaysia Plan, 60% of the 1.5 million jobs that will be created between 2016 and 2020 will require TVET-related skills. This is why the five-year plan includes initiatives to enable industry-led TVET to meet the demand for such graduates.

It appears that there will now be a more coordinated approach to boosting TVET in Malaysia and that the private sector will partner the Government in these efforts.

The transformation should extend to the changing of mindsets. TVET deserves to be seen in a different light; it should not be an option of last resort.
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Educators Told To Transform To Keep Up With Fourth Industrial Revolution

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

News Pic

PETALING JAYA, Sept 30 (Bernama) — The education system has to stay relevant by anticipating and supporting competencies needed to keep up with the advancement of the Fourth Industrial Revolution(4IR), said Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Mary Yap Kain Ching.

She said this was crucial as the new revolution, driven by digital technology and innovation, had transformed the way knowledge and information was imparted.

She said acquiring the right teaching and learning process was also crucial in order to support the desired outcomes of 4IR.

“Today, all graduates face a world transformed in technology, in which the Internet, cloud computing, and social media, create different opportunities and challenges for formal education system.

“It is now, more than ever, that we must prepare our graduates to be future-ready and adaptable to the transformation around us,” she said when opening the Taylor’s 10th Teaching and Learning Conference at Taylor’s University, in Subang Jaya, near here, today.

Yap said with the change in the role of educators, where passing on knowledge from teacher to pupil would no longer be the educator’s chief goal, they now needed to find strategies that could build and recognise learners as independent and self-benefiting agents, not waiting to be taught, but wanting to be supported.


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Industry 4.0: What does it behold for commodities?

Friday, September 29th, 2017
Valuable commodity: A worker using a tractor-grabber to collect oil palm fruit bunch in a plantation in Pulau Carey, Selangor.

Valuable commodity: A worker using a tractor-grabber to collect oil palm fruit bunch in a plantation in Pulau Carey, Selangor.

The term ‘Industry 4.0’ has become a global buzzword since its introduction by the Germans in 2011. There are so many definitions and big words thrown around, it can be difficult for the layman to understand what it is all about.

In my simple words, Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is about having machines that are able to send, receive and act on instructions that are connected to computing systems in-situ and through communications networks that enable them to interact with other machines and humans to produce goods and deliver services efficiently. In other words, Industry 4.0 is about greater mechanisation.

I may oversimplify things but I am no fan of over complicating matters!

Changing times: At the infancy of Industry 4.0, digital technology had permeated into many physical systems, including deployment of sensing, transportation and manufacturing to name a few.

Changing times: At the infancy of Industry 4.0, digital technology had permeated into many physical systems, including deployment of sensing, transportation and manufacturing to name a few.

The dawn of Industry 4.0

Today, at the infancy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, digital technology has permeated into many physical systems. This includes deployment of sensing, computing and communicating systems in management of energy grids, transportation, manufacturing and water, or even our everyday household devices – cars, refrigerators, entertainment systems and air-conditioning (read IoT or Internet of Things).

Even more astonishing is the embedding of such systems in the human body to restore sensory, cognitive and motor functions in people disabled by injury or neurological conditions.

Sounds like a scene from Star Trek or Minority Report? Yes, it is but this time it is for real.

Is it relevant for commodities?

You may ask how can it apply to the plantation industries and commodities such as palm oil, rubber, timber, cocoa or pepper. Plenty, I would say, if you dare to imagine.

Take oil palm, for instance. It is entirely imaginable that with sensors linked to computing systems though communications networks, we can track productivity by palm, rather than by plot or estate.

We should be able to know the stress level of each palm caused by prolonged dry or wet weather and interventions that are required such as irrigation, fertilisation and pesticide application. This has a direct impact on fresh fruit bunch (FFB) yield.

When it comes to harvesting and evacuation, it would be ideal to have an integrated machine that can precisely identify FFBs that are perfectly ripe, cut them from the palms, collect entire bunches without loose fruits dropping on the ground and deliver them directly to the mill, autonomously.

Oil yields will improve dramatically through the combination of perfectly ripe FFBs that are also not bruised through unnecessary multiple handling and minimal loose fruit loss.

In fact, you can visualise estate management being conducted from a control centre with much less direct human involvement.

With growing demand for traceability, Industry 4.0 applications may be able to help a consumer determine the origins of the palm oil contained in a product, using radio-frequency identification or visual codes, to know if the ingredient is sustainably produced.

It requires even less imagination to see the application of Industry 4.0 in the milling, refining and oleochemical processes as well as transportation that will improve productivity, safety and quality.

Similarly, Industry 4.0 can help to alleviate productivity challenges both in the upstream and downstream of the rubber industry. Our on-going trial of the Automated Rubber Tapping System (ARTS) is already an indication that timed tapping, latex collection and bulking, and use of stimulant can be mechanised while collection and data crunching of gram per tree per tapping (GTT) can help to determine the intervention required to increase yield.

On the other hand, demand for foreign labour can be moderated with great automation in rubber glove production lines, as one of our industry-leading manufacturers, Hartalega, has demonstrated with its current workers per million pieces input of 2.6 at its Next Generation Centre (NGC) in Sepang compared to several folds more in its other facilities, which are being upgraded. There is so much more productivity enhancement that can be achieved with greater IOT deployment.

Too good to be true?

Not entirely. The embedding of sensing, computing and communicating systems in vehicles, drones and other machinery is entirely achievable today.

Global Positioning System and mobile networks along with data transmission and big data analytics have become commonplace.

Granted, the deployment of such machineries and systems for annual crops planted on plains are far easier than executing the same for perennial crops planted on more undulating terrains such as oil palm and rubber. With proper focus, collaboration and allocation of resources, nothing is impossible.

Current challenges dictate change

The truth of the matter is that challenges that we face today are already forcing our hands. The lack of labour has resulted in a loss of FFB and oil extraction yields.

Yield potential has reached a plateau while we work on new clones via genomics research that can steepen the curve again.

Coupled with limited land for new planting and the necessity to maintain our forest cover in line our Paris Climate Conference pledge, our only option is to raise productivity.

To begin with, we are in great need for humbler mechanised devices for harvesting, loose fruit collection and evacuation. Both brownfield and greenfield inventions are being considered through platforms such as the International Competition on Palm Mechani­sa­tion. These will act as the bridge to the Industry 4.0 future.

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TVET to meet industry needs

Sunday, September 10th, 2017
Azhar (foreground, third from left) speaking to MJII Robotic and Automation Year Two student Amirah Zalifah Ab Rahman (right) after the launch. With him are Mara Council members Datuk Ariss Samsudin and Datuk Johan Abd Aziz (left and second left).

Azhar (foreground, third from left) speaking to MJII Robotic and Automation Year Two student Amirah Zalifah Ab Rahman (right) after the launch. With him are Mara Council members Datuk Ariss Samsudin and Datuk Johan Abd Aziz (left and second left).

MORE educationists and institutions are realising the importance of technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

One of them is Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), which believes that through TVET, the Government’s National Transformation 2050 (TN50) initiative can be achieved.

It is confident that the the economic and technological development of the country can be realised with TVET.

In its effort to achieve this, Mara recently launched an Industrial Centre of Excellence (ICoE) in the field of Electronic Engineering at the Mara-Japan Industrial Institute (MJII) in Beranang, Selangor.

Mara director-general Azhar Abdul Manaf congratulated MJII for their effort. “MJII has earned international recognition as a ‘MikroTik Academy’.

“The institution has also become a ‘LabVIEW Academy’ collaborator with Mara and National Instruments, which focuses on graphic software programming, testing and measurement instrumentation.

“By establishing these academies, students will be prepared with a curriculum that is aligned to industry needs, besides obtaining international recognition as an added value to their engineering diploma,” he said at Mara’s Industry and Institution Engagement 2017 programme.

The certification is also open to students from other higher learning institutions, as well as those in the workforce who wish to enhance their curriculum vitae.

Azhar said the additional certificate students receive will be able to accommodate the market demand for skilled manpower.

Mara also has ICoE’s located in other centres which focuses on specific areas such as Plant Design and Modelling Excellent Centre in Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara (KKTM), Kemaman, Terengganu, Additive Manufacturing Research and Innovation Centre in KKTM Kuantan, Pahang and International Welding Inspection & Certification Centre in Institut Kemahiran Mara in Jasin, Melaka among others.

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Industry 4.0: The future is here

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Malaysia cannot afford to lag in a world facing swift, exponential change driven by technological innovation.

AS early as the 6th century BC, Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted this certainty: the only constant thing in the world is change.

Since then, the world has undergone tremendous changes.

Today, it has segued into yet another monumental era – the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, the name given to the latest evolution in the digitisation and automation of manufacturing processes.

It incorporates advanced sensors, machine-to-machine communication links, 3-D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and cloud computing technology.

These cyber-physical platforms monitor factory processes and make decentralised, self-governing decisions, leading to “intelligent” or “smart” factories.

Industry 4.0 covers the entire value chain, including suppliers, procurement, design, logistics and even sales, resulting in higher productivity and flexibility.

There is less wastage or storage, better monitoring and maintenance of machinery, and improved security and safety.

The first industrial revolution started in the late 18th century with the shift from human or animal power to machines run by water or steam.

The second occurred between 1870 to 1914 with the introduction of electricity, and the rise of the steel and oil industries, triggering the era of mass production of goods and vehicles.

The third significant shift began in the 1960s with the entry of the first programmable logistic controllers and early versions of computers, boosting automation and control of production lines.

This spurred the extensive use of computer networks, and the eventual birth of the Internet changed the world in ways that no one could have imagined.

Industry 4.0 is a German strategic initiative mooted in 2011 under its High-Tech Strategy 2020 and adopted two years later.

It is aimed at revolutionising the manufacturing industry, by switching from centralised to decentralised networks under which connected equipment and devices communicate with each other to analyse and respond to information received.

In the United States, the term “Internet of Things” (IoT) is used for networks of computers, scanners and other devices collecting and dispensing information to end-users in homes and companies.

Application of the IoT in manufacturing is referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things, or just Industrial Internet.

In Britain, the preferred reference is Fourth Industrial Revolution, while in Russia, it is “Advanced Manufacturing”.

China has its “Made in China 2025”, which has a broader scope to bridge the gaps and uneven matches between the quality and efficiency of its rising number of manufacturers.

There is much confusion over these interconnected terms. What is clear, though, is the global acceptance of this significant technological advance.

Sadly, Malaysia has been rather slow to embrace it, compared with Vietnam or Thailand which already have Industry 4.0 policy frameworks.

The Malaysian Government is still in the process of formulating the National Industry 4.0 Blueprint, which is expected to be ready before the end of 2017.

The cost of adopting Industry 4.0 is the main reason for small and medium industries’ hesitance.

Many prefer to keep their foreign workers, rather than to invest in automation and IT.

As a result, Malaysia is regarded as stuck at the level of Industry 3.0 in terms of manufacturing technology.

In May, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan said 65% of jobs in Malaysia could be lost because of technological advancements.

“We are unable to catch our breath because the world is moving at a fast pace with the digital economy,” he was quoted as saying.

According to Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) chief executive Datuk C. M. Vignaesvaran Jeyandran, most of the 15 million Malaysian workers in the private sector need to be upskilled or trained to be multi-skilled to meet requirements under the increasing digitalisation of workplaces.

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