Robotics Could Help Malaysian Industries Against Labour Shortage

Malaysia’s National Robotics Roadmap (NRR) 2030 robot density target of 195 robots per 10,000 workers to help step up productivity and reduce local industries’ reliance on foreign labour

Robotics Could Help Malaysian Industries Against Labour Shortage
Universal Robots in action

Universal Robots, the global leader in the rapidly growing market of collaborative robots (cobots), has advised industries in Malaysia to accelerate automation and adopt collaborative robots (cobots) to help solve labour shortages, increase productivity and improve product quality.

Malaysia’s National Robotics Roadmap (NRR) 2021 – 2030 aims to push the country's robot density to 195 robots for every 10,000 workers by 2030. NRR is expected to help step up productivity and reduce the country’s reliance on foreign labour and minimise currency outflow.

James Mckew, Regional President APAC, Universal Robots.

“Collaborative robots have the power to transform a business’s capabilities, productivity and overheads. More affordable, versatile and compact than traditional industrial robots, cobots allow industries across Malaysia to leverage the power of automation and push their productivity to the next level,” says James Mckew, Regional President APAC, Universal Robots.

Based on a recent industry survey by Federation of Malaysia Manufacturers (FMM), labour shortage is estimated to cost local manufacturing industry RM50 billion in the first eight months of 2022, due to inability to ramp up production to fulfil global supply and increase export trade volumes. Rising cost of labour and labour shortage is also expected to persist in second-half of 2022.

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Pandemic: Labour Shortages

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a set of challenges for the manufacturing industry. The closure of borders, shutdowns of factories, and restrictions on movements had ground operations within Asia Pacific to a halt. Besides facing the unappealing prospect of shuttering facilities, manufacturers were also facing massive labour shortages.

These challenges are prompting manufacturers to embrace automation and robots to ensure business continuity during such uncertain times. Especially in the Asia Pacific region, it was reported that Asia remains the world's largest industrial robot market.

“After implementing two UR10e cobots, Seng Heng Engineering experienced a 50 percent increase in productivity and efficiency on the production line within three months. In addition, the cobots are capable of working around the clock in tandem with our employees, relieving them from working on dull and monotonous tasks,” says Jackie Lau, Managing Director, Seng Heng Engineering.

According to research firm Fortune Business Insight, the global industrial robots market is projected to grow from US$16.78 billion in 2022 to US$35.68 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 11.4% in the forecast period.

Industrial robots are in high demand in industries such as electronics, automotive, packaging and pharmaceuticals while increased public awareness of industrial accidents and employee safety are contributing to its market growth.  Smaller, more affordable, and versatile robots are helping to remove many of the barriers previously preventing companies from investing in robots.

Challenges at Seng Heng Engineering

Seng Heng Engineering, a Singapore-based third-generation manufacturer with 70 years of experience, is a single-source solution provider of fasteners, turnkey machining, and corrosion-resistant coating products.

During the pandemic, Seng Heng Engineering faced unprecedented disruptions to their workforce. This prompted them to consider automating some functions to ease the production bottlenecks caused by labour shortages and uncertainties. Traditionally, the loading and unloading of fasteners into the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines were conducted manually.

Robotics to the Rescue

The deployment of cobots relieve human employees from the repetitive processes that may take up to five minutes before the completion of each fastener. Seng Heng Engineering experienced a 50 percent increase in productivity and efficiency on the production line within three months.