PETALING JAYA: The International Trade and Industry Ministry is pushing for an allocation under Budget 2018 to help Malaysian industries, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to adapt to Industry 4.0 faster.

Second International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said Industry 4.0 is an agenda that needs to be prioritised, adding that it would impact the overall production and competitiveness of the country.

“We have proposed incentives be extended to industries to automate their production in line with Industry 4.0 but it would have to depend on the Treasury,” he said at a media briefing after launching the FMM Industry 4.0 conference.

The government, as an enabler, will help to build the automation ecosystem – at least at the initial stage, as it was fully aware that industries would need more than a mindset shift to move out of their conventional systems.

“Digitalisation through Industry 4.0 should be a bottom-up approach instead of top-down and industry associations need to take charge nad push for rapid adoption in the manufacturing services.”

Manufacturers, both large and small, would have to play their part in expanding their market size for their products. This can be achieved by taking advantage of the various markets where access for Malaysian exports have been enhanced through the various free trade agreements (FTAs).

Earlier in his speech, Ong said the government will assist SMEs make the leap into Industry 4.0 since they face different set of challenges compared with the multinational corporations.

If Uber, Tesla and Airbnb have forced traditional manufacturers to rethink their current business model, and moving to meet the customised demands of today’s consumer, Malaysian manufacturers should be aware that they are also not spared from this megatrend.

Industries in Germany, US and Japan are driving the initiative with minimal government assistance, he added.

He said China, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam are adopting Industry 4.0 through government intervention.

In the case of Malaysia, Ong explained the national policy is being developed through engagements with various stakeholders in the hope of making it as inclusive as possible.

He pointed out there has been several industry-led initiatives including the collaboration between the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturer Association with the German-Malaysian Institute for the pilot project in Industry 4.0 technology adoption.

FMM vice president Jacob Lee Chor Kok said FMM has been driving Industry 4.0 awareness programme with the help of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) through hand-holding programmes.

The government’s intervention, he added, was need to spearhead the shift from a manual-type production to automation.

FMM has proposed an Industry 4.0 centre in every state in the country through a partnership with the manufacturers.