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19 - 22 June 2024

EEC to Launch an Ecosystem Plan for “Automation and Robotics”

20 October 2021

“Automation and Robotics” is one of the target industries of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) which is related to other target industries, including the automotive, the electronics, and the food processing industries. Therefore, creating the appropriate, suitable, and efficient ecosystem for this industry is the key to EEC’s success.

Mr. Kanit Sangsubhan, Secretary-General of the Eastern Economic Corridor Office of Thailand (EECO), said that “The key factor that drives the EEC’s success is Connected Industry. However, the devil is in the details, so the policy needs to be systematic, careful and concise. It may be difficult, but we try to iron out every detail to create a real mechanism for investment. This includes personnel development by developing short-term and long-term courses by requesting the donation of teaching aids and various tools from the private sector instead of asking for the government’s budget since it is often insufficient for post-purchase maintenance or to purchase the latest models available. This is how the EEC Automation Park was created in September last year under the initiative by the EEC Human Development Center (EEC HDC), a unit that oversees personnel development and education in the EEC area, to be a learning and knowledge development center for automation and robotics, to develop human resource, and raise the level of industrial manufacturing in Thailand toward Industry 4.0 through collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric Factory Automation (Thailand) Co., Ltd. and Burapha University. At the same time, we also collaborated with the Revenue Department to issue special tax deduction measures up to 2.5 times of the normal rate for private’s sector donation.”

Mitsubishi had presented e-F@ctory, a solution that focuses on the connection of data at all levels and reduces production costs to increase factory efficiency as well as supporting the production systems. This solution has been patented and was first introduced in Thailand around 7-8 years ago. Now, it has been donated to the EEC HDC for the purpose of human resource development at EEC Automation Park which connects partners from various sectors to support the Thailand 4.0 policy with an aim to change the structure of Thailand's economy to become "Value-Based Economy.”

Therefore, it is obvious this is a strategy to build an ecosystem to help develop personnel in the automation and robotics industry with the latest technology. This will lead to the success of Factory 4.0 with more cost efficiency through at least 30% cost reduction. EEC Automation Park also has installed many robots and machinery that have been recently released in Japan to demonstrate the complete system of Industry 4.0 manufacturing processes.

“We are using the EEC Automation Park as a central hub in the EEC to drive the real application of automation and robotics in the industrial sector. Entrepreneurs looking to adopt digital transformation will be able to learn how to use this technology efficiently, and various educational institutions will also be able to develop their student skills to align with the current industry’s actual requirements.”  

In addition, as Thailand and Japan have a long-standing relationship in terms of economy, society and culture, EEC has collaborated closely with the Japanese government and private sectors through Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) to introduce the use of IoT, and automation and robotics to empower Thailand to become the next global manufacturing hub with higher productivity, efficiency and precision. This will also help reduce the need for manpower and cut down the deterioration rate of machinery by up to 131 hours per month.

“We have always worked closely with Japanese investors with mutual respect and cooperation, because Japan helped us build the Eastern Seaboard and is still our big partner today.”

For their part, JETRO has opened a special website to introduce Japanese companies specialized in automation and robotics industry, and has worked with EEC to organize online seminars and meetings to create real investment opportunities.

If the mission to build an ecosystem for automation and robotics is accomplished, it is expected that in the next three years, there will be an investment in automation and robotics of up to 500 billion Baht, with 50 billion Baht being channeled toward the EEC area. Also, it is expected that in 2022, no less than 200 factories in the EEC area will adopt the technology while in five years, no less than 10,000 factories will adopt digital manufacturing.

According to the World Robotics Report 2020, Thailand was ranked as the world's 13th largest market for industrial robot installations in 2019 with more than 2,900 units. In addition to the high demand of industrial robots in the country, Thailand also has the potential to play an important role in the future of automation and robotics since it is the world's 14th largest exporter of parts for machinery parts and robotic arms. The market's export value increased to $40 billion in 2019, representing a 3% annual growth rate during 2015-2019, and acquired a 1.8% of the world’s market share. Furthermore, Thailand's automation and robotics industry has attracted more than $3.53 million of foreign investment in the first two quarters of 2020, and investments reached $26.71 million in 2019.

Overall, the data from Mordor Intelligence shows that the global robotics market is worth $27.73 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach $74.1 billion in 2026 with an average annual growth rate of 17.45% during 2021-2026 due to the robotic technologies related to the prevention of COVID-19 such as cleaning and sanitizing robots. It is estimated that the growth of food and medicine delivery robots will be evident in 2021, and this growth will drive the demand for robots that support last-mile delivery (a form of delivery from the warehouse directly to the consumer’s address).

Meanwhile, the report of World Robotics from the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) indicates that investment in the production of next-generation vehicles and industrial modernization has stimulated the demand for robots to increase worldwide. This increase is a result of different factors such as the development of energy-saving vehicles as well as the more intense competition in the automobile market by large operators, both of which have led to transnational investments in key special economic zones around the world.

The automotive industry remains one of the most important applications of industrial robots. This can be seen from a significant increase globally in investment in industrial robots. For example, BMW AG had signed an agreement with KUKA in 2020 to purchase over 5,000 robots to be used in its new production lines and factories located around the world.

The automation and robotics industry still has a long future ahead that needs to be monitored continuously. If you are interested in the latest news regarding this technology or other industrial movements and topics. Don’t miss the next issue of Manufacturing Expo Blogs!