Digitalisation in Manufacturing - Key Takeaways

Digitalisation in Manufacturing – Key Takeaways

Among ASEAN enterprises, priorities for 47% of them lie in delivering operational excellence with cost reductions, and priorities for 21% of them lie in improving resilience and agility, according to an AIBP study Manufacturing & Supply Chain Growth in ASEAN: Technological Shifts and Opportunities.

Today at AIBP Insights: Digitalisation in Manufacturing, we addressed topics ranging from  current trends, future-proofing of manufacturing and supply chains with digitalisation and application of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.

AIBP Insights is a series of discussions held online which brings together a focus group of ASEAN stakeholders to discuss topics related to enterprise technology adoption in the region.

Semen Indonesia Group (SIG) and Republic Cement (Philippines), Finalists of the 2021 ASEAN Enterprise Innovation Awards, also showcased their innovation projects at the session.

The Enterprise Innovation Awards was established in 2017 by AIBP with the key objective of giving recognition to organisations who have embarked on projects to digitally transform their business through the adoption of innovative technology. The awards are held annually for ASEAN countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Digitalisation in Manufacturing panelists

Key points brought up today include utilising artificial intelligence and data science, challenges faced by manufacturers when embarking on their Industry 4.0 journeys, and the importance of human capital.

Utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science in Manufacturing Plants 

Fachlul Infithar, Group Head of Information and Communications Technology, Semen Indonesia Group, Indonesia, shared that better operational excellence is a key focus at SIG. Exploring ways to utilise Artificial Intelligence among other digital technologies to maintain consistency and quality of their cement supply is a priority for them as their current position as market leader in Indonesia.

Lloyd Vicente, Vice President, Manufacturing, Republic Cement, Philippines, shared that the best way to understand data science is to look at the process in reverse. He shared that Republic Cement embarked on a data science journey to predict the compressive strength of the cement, and data science allows them to see what data is available in order to improve the quality and consistency of cement. Lloyd used an analogy to illustrate that expecting consistent cement quality in every bag produced is like having a good bottle of champagne from the same brand. Data science assists them in maintaining consistency by optimising their cement recipes and process parameters, which allows them to be more precise with their raw material usage.

As an example, Paul Toh, Technical Director, Global Transformation Partners – Asia Pacific, NetApp, Singapore, stated that video analytics is used to supplement existing machinery to ensure end-product quality assurance. He emphasised the importance of improving quality control by installing video cameras rather than completely replacing and modernising everything from scratch because investments must sometimes be safeguarded.

Challenges / Roadblocks Faced by Manufacturers 

Allan Timonera, President, Fastech Synergy Ltd, Philippines, emphasised that due to the pandemic’s uncertainty and volatility, most data science models may not thrive in a disrupted environment, and these external changes make it more difficult for manufacturers to deploy new technologies.

Barbie Dolls’ production in Indonesia began 30 years ago, and the 30-year-old machines are causing problems according to Kemal Hadid, Director of Manufacturing and Process Improvement, Mattel, Indonesia. Furthermore, the machines in each of the plants in each country are distinct and produce different metrics. As a result, machines will send various insights based on the various pieces of data collected, adding to the increasing influx of data. When it comes to increasing productivity or results, Pak Kemal stresses that data alone will not suffice, but proper problem solving can make all the difference.

Glenn Hsu, Regional Sales Manager, Beijer Electronics, Taiwan, agreed and stated that one of the most difficult challenges he observed was ensuring connectivity between all of the different machines and IT systems in a manufacturing plant. Because different vendors’ machines tend to have different control systems embedded inside, it’s difficult to find a universal software and hardware interface that connects everything together.

Ronni Rombe, Director, Supply Chain, Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART), Indonesia, agreed, emphasising the importance of combining old and new technology. New technologies will enable them to make more timely and more precise data-driven decisions.

Rachelle Mindo, Quality Manager, Republic Cement, Philippines, shared that with the primary goal of improving cement quality and optimising their processes, they gathered all of Aboitiz’s support to assist them in developing prediction models. Following the pilot deployment, the management was pleased with the promising results and noticed an improvement in their processes.

The Importance of Human Capital 

Allan is actively researching and exploring people dynamics at Fastech. Some groups function better than others, while others are more difficult to manage. While it may not be as appealing as what is being discussed about predictive models, mapping people’s dynamics over time is a valuable tool that can help them gain insights into what problems which types of people are best working on.

Lloyd agreed and added that they are training the first batch of data science leaders in the Philippines’ cement industry.

Pak Kemal also agreed with them, and shared that human capital strategy and framework is one of his priorities – especially ensuring that employees are equipped to analyse data and put it to good use.

Having the right human capital is also essential to the SIG team, with Pak Fachlul stating that it is important to align employees – so that everyone has the same idea and picture of what is going on, what they are going to do, where they are going, and so on.

Manufacturing plants today face the challenge of remaining flexible and adaptable in the face of an evolving pandemic landscape. The panelists all agreed that digital transformation is a marathon-like journey. There may be changes required along the way; it is critical to be flexible and not be satisfied with a slew of quick wins.

The AIBP Insights series will continue in the next couple of months, where we will host focus groups on enterprise digitalisation in ASEAN on enterprise finalists. Finalists of the 2021 ASEAN Enterprise Innovation Awards and will also be showcasing their innovation projects for their organisation.

Check out more insights on ASEAN’s supply chain trends at Rethinking Supply Chains

Feel free to drop us a message if you would like to view the full session replay, or if you wish to find out more about upcoming focus groups!


27 October 2021