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The drive towards Industry 4.0 in Thailand

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The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented its Industrial Development Report (IDR) 2020: Industrializing in the digital age at the event “Thailand: Driving towards Industry 4.0”, organized in cooperation with the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA). During the event DEPA released the results of a new survey on the adoption and diffusion of Industry 4.0 among manufacturing firms in Thailand. This survey is a follow-up to the survey implemented in collaboration with UNIDO in 2019 for use in the IDR 2020. Almost 100 participants joined the event, both in person and online.

Opening the event, Stein Hansen, UNIDO Regional Director and Representative of UNIDO Regional Office Hub in Thailand, highlighted how the IDR 2020 is contributing to the debate on the emergence and diffusion of new digital technologies clustered around the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

“We are living in an era of major technological changes, in which the blurring of the boundaries between physical and digital worlds discloses new opportunities to develop modern manufacturing industries,” he said, emphasizing how new digital production technologies can generate opportunities but also pose new challenges to developing and emerging economies.

Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, CEO and President of DEPA, said that Thailand needs to focus on Industry 4.0 and future industries such as clean and renewable energy, robotics and smart devices. He stressed that DEPA has been actively supporting the creation of a digital ecosystem, as shown by the promotion of the Thailand Digital Valley Landscape.

Presenting IDR 2020, Alejandro Lavopa, UNIDO Research Officer, drew attention to the potential of digital technologies to become a key driver of inclusive and sustainable industrial development. However, the diffusion of these technologies is limited and highly concentrated in few countries and firms, as shown by the data collected in Thailand in 2019.  

Lavopa stressed that strengthening industrial capabilities remains a major avenue to engage with new technologies. “Thailand is well positioned to exploit the opportunities opened by these technologies, but the challenge is fostering the indigenous production of digital technologies and their local adoption,” he concluded.

This view was also shared by Kasititorn Pooparadai, Senior Executive and Vice President of DEPA. When presenting the results of the follow-up survey on Industry 4.0 conducted this year, she pointed out that the majority of firms are still employing outdated production technologies.

“Less than 1% of surveyed firms use the latest generation of digital technologies”, she said, “but many expect to engage with these technologies in the next five to 10 years.” A key challenge ahead is to find ways to support them embracing the 4IR, she concluded.

The event continued the discussion of how Thailand can move towards Industry 4.0, with a panel of experts including Keun Lee, Professor at Seoul National University; Kasititorn Pooparadai from DEPA; Ubonwam Lordngeon, Senior Planning and Policy Analyst at the Office of Industrial Economics, Ministry of Industry; Niti Mekmok, President of Thai IoT Association; and Nobuya Haraguchi, Chief of the UNIDO Research and Industrial Policy Advice Division.

Moving towards the 4IR is a long-term project and the COVID-19 crisis is not going to be a long-term constraint for Thailand, where the impact of the pandemic seems to have been milder. “Forty-three per cent of firms reported a drop in sales and only 8% will consider cutting up to 25% of employees, which are both lower than the averages for Asia,” said Haraguchi, quoting a UNIDO survey on the impact of COVID-19. Professor Lee also emphasized that, even if risky, Thailand could escape the middle-income trap and accelerate the catching-up process by leapfrogging to Industry 4.0.

All panellists agreed on the importance of raising awareness about the potential of these technologies, and that an effective collaboration across stakeholders is the way forward to overcome barriers to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies. DEPA’s Pooparadai concluded that this event paved the way for further collaboration between UNIDO and DEPA to drive Thailand into the 4IR.

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Earth Observation Data Could Represent A Billion-Dollar Opportunity For Africa

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Earth observation [EO] data provides a billion-dollar opportunity for economies on the African continent, one that could create jobs and build new resilience after COVID-19.

The newly released report Unlocking the Potential of Earth Observation to address Africa’s critical challenges lays out the multiple economic benefits from EO data. The report was written in collaboration with Digital Earth Africa, an initiative that is a world first in providing freely accessible data that maps the entire African continent.

This report marks the first known time the potential impact of EO for Africa has been quantified. According to estimates, EO could be worth up to $2 billion a year thanks to:

1. A strengthened EO industry. Improved use of EO data could lead to an extra $500 million in yearly EO sales along with new job opportunities and increased fiscal revenues.

2. Boosted agricultural productivity. Better data could potentially be worth an extra $900 million a year, thanks to water savings and productivity gains for farmers, not to mention reduced pesticide usage.

3. Better regulation of gold mining activity. Data allows countries to crack down on illegal mining, providing a potential savings of at least $900 million from reduced environmental damage and fiscal evasion.

The report shows the opportunity available in EO data to strengthen economies and reach sustainability goals. EO data can help governments make more informed decisions regarding water, agriculture, food security and urbanization. Advancing new collaborations between public and private efforts can incentivize data sharing to develop EO industries on the continent even further.

Dr Adam Lewis, Managing Director of the Digital Earth Program welcomes the findings of the report as the first of its kind to quantify the potential benefits of the program. “Through collaboration with key partners both within Africa and across the globe, we have made significant progress in turning this potential into a reality. Over the last 12 months the program has met a number of milestones in improving access to data and services within Africa. Working with Amazon Web Services as well as international space agencies and the private sector, we have been able to provide access to locally stored analysis-ready satellite data within Africa.” Adam said.

“We are proud to support Digital Earth Africa’s efforts to make Earth observation data more easily accessible to African nations,” said Ana Pinheiro Privette, Lead for Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative. “Through the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative, Amazon is making available petabytes of Earth observation data, which provide valuable insights for communities to manage climate impacts including increased floods and droughts.”

Valuing the impact of EO is an emerging practice globally, with recent reports covering the Asia Pacific, Australia, the European Union and the UK, but this is the first such report for Africa. The report was developed following examination of the readiness of African countries to effectively and efficiently grow their geospatial capabilities, integrated with study of the potential economic benefit of EO data adoption on specific sustainable development focus areas.

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Data-Driven Operations Are Key to Future of Manufacturing

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In the near future, manufacturing companies will collaborate in hyperconnected value networks in which data-and-analytics applications drive productivity, new customer experiences and societal and environmental impact. A new white paper, Data Excellence: Transforming Manufacturing and Supply Systems, released today presents the challenges for manufacturers and provides the steps to overcome them.

According to the report, nearly three-quarters of 1,300 surveyed manufacturing executives consider advanced analytics to be critical for success and more important today than three years ago. However, only a few companies capture the full value that data and analytics can unlock to address manufacturers’ most pressing challenges. Less than 20% of surveyed participants prioritize advanced analytics to promote either short-term cost reductions or longer-term structural cost improvements. Only 39% have managed to scale data-driven use cases beyond the production process of a single product and thus achieve a clearly positive business case.

Surveyed manufacturers cited various challenges that impeded their efforts to further scale and implement data-and-analytics solutions within their plants and across networks:

  • They struggle to prioritize the right value-adding use cases from a broad range of applications
  • They have not put in place technological enablers, such as data security or advanced algorithms
  • They lack critical organizational enablers, such as skills and capabilities and effective internal governance

This study by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), features insights from a unique community of 40+ manufacturing organizations and leading academics and public sector representatives, identifying six priorities to capture value from data and analytics in manufacturing:

  • Define a data-to-value strategy and roadmap
  • Incentivize internal and external ecosystem partners
  • Build capabilities to capture and use data
  • Implement an open platform to unlock data silos
  • Enable connectivity for low-latency, high-bandwidth data flows
  • Ensure data security and privacy

“These findings will help accelerate our journey to support companies in devising a path forward to reach the next level of data-based manufacturing excellence, build trust among manufacturing, suppliers and customers, and unlock new value through the development of new data-driven ecosystems,” said Francisco Betti, Head of Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production at the World Economic Forum.

“Manufacturing is on the verge of a data‑driven revolution,” said Daniel Küpper, Managing Director and Partner of BCG and a report co-author. “But many companies have become disillusioned because they lack the technological backbone required to effectively scale data-and-analytics applications. Establishing these prerequisites will be critical to success in the post-pandemic world.”

As a next step, the community is co-developing a Manufacturing Data Excellence Framework, which comprises value-adding applications as well as technological and organizational success factors. Companies will be able to leverage this framework to accelerate the development of globally connected manufacturing data ecosystems.

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World Bank Group and CES Announce Global Tech Challenge Winners

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image: ces.tech

World Bank Group and CES announced the winners of the Global Tech Challenge at CES®2021.

The result of a partnership between the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the World Bank Group, the Global Tech Challenge was launched at CES 2020 to reward scalable and innovative technological solutions in three main areas: digital health in East Africa, resilience in India and gender equality around the world. Technology solutions that helped communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic were also prioritized.

Selected among over 1,000 applications, three winners were selected for gender equality, 10 for resilience and 17 for digital health. More details about the selected innovations can be accessed here for health, resilience and gender equality.

Global Tech Challenge winners will have the opportunity to access financial and/or technical assistance to pilot and scale their solutions on the ground with private sector companies, governments and within development projects financed by the World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries.  

“From closing the digital divide to building resilience in the face of natural disasters or pandemics, innovation can solve some of the most pressing development challenges. The World Bank Group is pleased to support impactful programs focused on bringing equal access to connectivity to women in developing countries and to recognize cutting-edge solutions such as AI-enabled robots to rebuild homes in post-disaster areas. Now is the time to scale up solutions that have proven effective, so that no one is left behind in the new digital era,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure.

“Disruptive technologies are a fundamental driver of economic growth and job creation—and key to solving development challenges around the world. At IFC, we are proud to support the private sector in bringing these technologies to emerging markets, with innovations that range from portable ultrasound devices that can detect COVID-19 to medical tools that provide real-time cardiac diagnoses even in remote areas,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, Interim Managing Director and Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer at IFC.

We are thrilled to be continuing our work with the World Bank so the world’s best and brightest innovators at CES can collaborate with the World Bank Group to enter new markets, provide solutions and aid in development,” said Karen Chupka, EVP, CES, Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2021 will be an all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world. CES 2021 will allow participants to hear from technology innovators, see cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, and engage with global brands and startups from around the world. For over 50 years, CES has been the global stage for innovation, and CES 2021 will provide an engaging platform for companies large and small to launch products, build brands and form partnerships.

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