FMM calls for better system to apply for IR4.0-related funds, grants and incentives
KUALA LUMPUR,. The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) is calling on the government to establish a new system for industry players to apply for the funds, grants and incentives offered in relation to the Fourth Industry Revolution (IR4.0) initiative.
President Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said this is to increase the efficiency and ensure more companies will participate and apply for the IR4.0-related financial incentives.
“We believe that a more efficient system will also help to boost IR4.0 implementation activities in Malaysia. The government can also improve on the current practices as it requires a long waiting time for companies to receive their funding.
“In addition, the government should look into establishing more human resource development programmes through collaborations involving universities, government agencies and industry players to build a pool of semi-skilled and skilled workers who can meet the industry’s requirements and ensure a reliable workforce and future-ready talents to support IR4.0 adoption,” he told Bernama.
Following the launch of the National Policy on Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD) by the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) on Oct 31, 2018, IR4.0 has gained momentum and acknowledgment by the industry in Malaysia.
As of December 2022, a total of 1,324 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) had participated in Miti’s Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment programme.
According to Soh, one of the main challenges faced by industry players in adopting IR4.0 is budgetary constraints. This is due to, among others, high investments in machine parts and infrastructures as well as costs of technical training.
He said amid the lack of necessary skills, talents and knowledge, the industry has to rely on professional experts and consultants to upskill the existing workforce and produce future talents who are able to support the technologies being implemented, including robotic systems, artificial intelligence, Internet of things, cloud computing and system integration.
Soh said although the transformation process may take years, once a plan is implemented it will enable manufacturers to sensibly invest in advanced manufacturing technology capabilities over time to deliver return on investment benefits such as increased operational efficiency and reduced downtime.
“Besides financial challenges, there is also a lack of awareness on the need and impact of IR4.0 among industry players, especially the SMEs which are not keen to explore the opportunities to adopt it.
“Continuous improvement and innovation are crucial especially in this era of digitisation, and industry players in Malaysia need to be on par with other manufacturers globally to maintain their competitiveness. Thus the adoption of IR4.0 is very critical,” he said.
Malaysia, Soh said, has to catch up on many aspects in order to achieve a higher level of industrialisation, including the transformation into a high-income economy.
According to him, Malaysia has lagged behind neighbouring countries in terms of upgrading of operations (away from labour-intensive activities), value-creation, productivity and innovative activities.
“As such, the FMM is strongly of the view that there must be a comprehensive approach in implementing policies, which involves not only reviewing the technology and technical initiatives but also the implementation process,” he said.
Soh said the approach needs to address several matters, including unclear lines of responsibility; lack of coordination in policy implementation and fragmented ownership of policies; comprehensive rolling out and implementation of policies; and close monitoring of implementation.
“The FMM is of the view that the government should always ensure that the implementation and execution of action plans are done expeditiously after policy announcements are made to minimise confusion and disruption as well as to boost uptake by the industry.
“In this respect, we would like to highlight specifically that in rolling out the country’s high speed broadband project, the government must ensure the last mile connection is set up rapidly, if not concurrently, with the roll-out to all industrial estates throughout the country, and not only within the Klang Valley and urban areas,” he added.
Recently, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) also called for the strengthening of Malaysia’s skills supply as it will be the key to preparing the services and manufacturing sectors for IR4.0.
The think tank outlined several policy recommendations, including encouraging greater collaboration between the private sector and training institutions, upskilling and reskilling the workforce, and streamlining Malaysia’s current technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes.