Industry4WRD is the official name given to the Malaysian blueprint towards self-aligning with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and it was officially launched on the 31st October 2018.
As at today, the 23rd of February 2019, a full 115 days have elapsed and one should reasonably ask as to what has been done apart from the carnival-kind of grand officiating and publicity? Carefully read the official publication of Industry4WRD, I have always felt doubts as to whether it is a plan for a smart manufacturing ecosystem transformation or it is a mere brief version of another Industrial Master Plan (IMP) as of we are now about coming to an end of the Third Industrial Master Plan (2006 – 2020) as compared to the previous two IMPs, namely the 1st IMP (1986 – 1995) and the 2nd IMP (1996 – 2005).
Whether or not Industry4WRD would encounter the consequence like the National IoT Strategic Roadmap which was launched on the 9th July 2015 is an interesting development to be observed. Ask around industrial practitioners and government agencies, what had been delivered from and who can still remember about the National IoT Strategic Roadmap? I bet you, you will get extremely disappointing and frustrating answers.
Of course, Industry4WRD and the National IoT Strategic Roadmap differ in the sense that first, the former was launched by the prime minister, whereas the latter was launched by the minister of the then MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation), and therefore they carry definitely different weights, and second, the National IoT Strategic Roadmap is a complete misconception of smartness in the IoT application and misalignment with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The major obstacle that Malaysia has always come across is the competency of execution. We can always have excellent write-ups, wonderful presentations, bombastic figures, and expensive publicities to create impression and awareness, but nothing else thereafter. The remaining works will be left to those volunteers who felt obliged to social-industrial acceleration works.
As a technopreneur as well as a close observer of Made in China 2025, the Chinese version of Industry 4.0, since its public release on the 19th May 2015, I have had a number of opportunities to discuss with a few key figures and visit the smart manufacturing a.k.a. intelligent manufacturing ecosystem test-sites.
The mode of Malaysia executes Industry4WRD is apparently far less than adequate and appropriate, which could be summed up in two key observations. First is the failure of the government to guide manufacturing enterprises to transform themselves into smart manufacturing capabilities. Second is the failure to give rise to industrial passion and sense of urgency and cruciality.
Government plays indisputably vital roles to lay the foundations. What are those foundations? Apart from public utilities, infrastructures, HR capabilities, and implementation agencies as what usual socioeconomic needs, those specifics to smart manufacturing transformation are (1) Standards; (2) Assessment Model; (3) IT-OT Integration Efforts.
Standards – China and Germany have established a government-to-government collaboration to formulate various standards to be adopted in the smart manufacturing ecosystem. Doe SIRIM or other agencies do working towards the same direction? Can these works be published to make known to industrialists at large as what China has been doing thus far?
Assessment Model – Germany has its Industry 4.0 Maturity Model and China has its Intelligent Manufacturing Capability Maturity Model. Although Industry4WRD comes together with Industry4WRD Readiness Assessment Guideline, the 8-page documentary produces very limited information to be used by the public. Unless MPC (Malaysia Productivity Corporation) wants to maintain its as proprietary intellectual property to generate profit when rendering consultancy, the said Guideline must be made available to the public to its fullness and entirety. If not, it may be seen as a form of malpractice taking into consideration that MPC is not a private profit organization but a government agency, or else what MPC has is indeed a mere 8-page documentary of Guideline.
IT-OT Integration Efforts – IT stands for information technology and OT stands for operational technology. It is gravely wrong to merely talk about IT in the smart manufacturing ecosystem, without taking into account of OT. Simply put, OT is the use of computers to monitor or alter the physical state of a system, such as the control system for a power station or the control network for a rail system. Surprisingly and regrettably, there is a complete absence of the OT in the Industry4WRD documentaries, which in my opinion Industry4WRD is merely an ordinary industry development plan, rather than a plan towards smart manufacturing transformation.
To this end, and to what I could best envision, Industry4WRD would not produce many meaningful nor significant outcomes if wrongs are not rectified immediately and industrial movement is not in planning track. Business-as-usual can be expected if not worse.