KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — Many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are still unaware of the Industry4wrd Readiness Assessment Programme that was introduced to assist them to migrate to Industry 4.0 technologies.

SME Association of Malaysia (SME Malaysia) said only 47 per cent of SMEs were unaware of the programme as depicted in its “SME Industry 4.0 Quick Survey” held in September in collaboration with Bizsphere Brand & Marketing Group.

It said this was despite various roadshows and announcements made by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry since early this year.

SME Malaysia said 3.6 per cent of the respondents are in midst of applying for it.

The survey, covering 10,000 business communities showed that 74 per cent the respondents acknowledged Industry 4.0 as an initiative to leverage data collected from operations to reinvent processes and workflow to make production and processes smarter to increase productivity.

Yet, 12 per cent claims that Industry 4.0 is an effort to automate their production processes.

“SMEs should plan for digital transformation to reap maximum benefits from Industry 4.0,” SME Malaysia deputy national president Ong Chee Tat said.

He said the respondents attributed massive investment (54 per cent), unsure where to start and who to look for help (32 per cent), as well as unsure of readiness (29 per cent) as among main reasons for not embarking on it or delaying the effort in the industry 4.0 journey.

“Most SMEs expressed fear of huge investment. Yet, many SMEs lacked the understanding that Industry 4.0 need not be implemented throughout the whole manufacturing process.

“Instead, SMEs should focus on where the pain points are. In addition, the government offers many incentives to lower their financial burden,” he added.

In addition, the respondents also highlighted top three pain points in their manufacturing operations, namely lack of reliable operational data for business decisions (58 per cent); shortage and rising cost of labour (54 per cent); and unpredictable downtime (38 per cent).

Bizsphere Brand and Marketing Group managing consultant Yap Keng Teck said only 2.7 per cent of the SMEs are implementing industry 4.0 initiatives in certain processes of their production.

Seventy-five per cent of SMEs have not taken any action despite some of them have started trying to understand more about it.

”Malaysian SMEs have always been in the ‘wait-and-see’ attitude and lack the drive to find out how this technological trend can help them gain competitiveness and grow their business” Yap said.

Industry4wrd — the national level framework to drive this initiative was launched by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in October 2019.

— BERNAMA

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