Rise of Robotics in Malaysia’s Automotive Industry

Universal Robots, a leading collaborative robotics company, has announced that it has successfully deployed Universal Robots’ UR10 robot arms at Nissan Motor Company’s Yokohama plant. Through the deployment of UR10 robot arms, Nissan has significantly enhanced its production processes resulting in higher level of output as well as time and cost efficiencies.

The rapidly growing automotive industry is a key sector for Universal Robots, especially in Southeast Asia (SEA) with manufacturing hubs in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Cambodia. Universal Robots general manager SEA and Oceania Shermine Gotfredsen said: “We are excited to be working with Nissan in their automation journey.”

“The global automotive industry plays a key role in driving the adoption of collaborative robots (cobots) to produce better manufacturing output, and this is critical for industry players to stay competitive”. “Universal Robots is at the forefront of this trend; our cobots effectively support the automation of automotive processes, resulting in improved safety standards and less strain on human employees.” Cobots are an offshoot of traditional industrial robots.

They are lightweight and mobile in terms of deployment, and are flexible enough to be modified for different applications. The automotive industry uses cobots in processes including screw driving, handling, assembling, packaging, palletizing, labelling, painting, quality control and machine tending.

The market value for collaborative industrial robots in the automotive industry was US$23.56 million in 2015 and is projected to reach US$469.82 million by 2021, at a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 64.67% between 2015  and 2021.

Cobots are also entering Malaysia’s market and the company will be participating at Metal Tech, happening in Kuala Lumpur from May 24 to 27. They will have a booth at the event and will be working with a Malaysian distributor to showcase an application of UR cobots. Gotfredsen will be in Kuala Lumpur for the event.

The automotive industry in SEA is poised for great growth with large markets experiencing important sales growth potential. As a key manufacturing hub producing for Asia and the world, SEA’s automotive sector has grown at 11% CAGR between 2010 and 2015. The upcoming implementation of Association of Southeast Asean Free-Trade Area (FTA) is expected to lower import and export taxes in the region, further driving demand for cost-effective regionally manufactured vehicles.

Malaysia is a key automotive manufacturing hub, with a 14% market share in the region , dominated by local manufacturers due to prohibitive trade barriers like high import taxes.This has contributed to pushing down car registrations, decreasing sales, and eventually bringing production down by 11.3% in 2016.

However, the sector may soon be in for a shake-up, with the Asean FTA opening the door to foreign competition. Malaysian automotive producers may then face greater competition from regional producers, forcing domestic manufacturers to produce higher-quality outputs more efficiently. Automation using collaborative industrial robots is one way for local Malaysian automotive manufacturers to improve their product quality in a cost-effective manner, and remain competitive.

Source: The Malay Mail, 29 March 2017