KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 (Bernama) — The government will continue to provide support to promote and increase the export of rubber gloves, as the sector has strong prospects, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong. He said rubber gloves remained the biggest contributor to the total exports of rubber products with growth of 2.0 per cent to RM9.8 billion in the first nine months of 2016.
He also said the export of rubber and rubber products remained important to the economy. “Although the share of exports of rubber products to total manufacturing exports is relatively small, growth thus far has been impressive,” he added. Over the last five years, the export of rubber products increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 per cent, compared with a CAGR of 2.9 per cent for total manufactured exports.
“Glove manufacturers must not only mechanise production processes, but may want to look towards leveraging advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0, bridging automation and data connectivity, to develop sophisticated integrated manufacturing and business systems,” Mah said in a statement.
Industry 4.0 or what has been called a “smart factory”, is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.
“Investing in this can spur the industry further as the industry becomes more globalised and competition with other countries intensifies,” said Mah. He lauded efforts by rubber gloves industry players to move up the value chain through innovation and investment in automation.
In this regard, he commended Hartalega for its significant investment in the next Generation Integrated Glove Manufacturing Complex (NGC) to accelerate innovation through its research and development and learning centres, as well as to reduce reliance on manual labour through increased automation.
The NGC marks Hartalega’s latest stage of growth and spans a 112-acre site in Sepang. Once completed, it will comprise six manufacturing plants housing 72 technology advanced production lines. Plants one and 2 of the NGC are fully operational, with 26 production lines running currently.
The NGC project involves a total investment of RM2.2 billion, with RM1.3 billion utilised to date. “The project is not only a boost to domestic direct investment, but will spur the rubber products sector and economy,” said Mah.
His comments came in the wake of a recent visit to Hartalega Holdings Bhd, the world’s largest nitrile gloves manufacturer.
Since assuming the portfolio, Mah has embarked on a series of visits to agencies under his ministry as well as commodity-based manufacturers.