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A number of key business leaders across Asia have repeated calls for next-generation manufacturers to focus on ‘innovation’. In their respective speeches at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit in Abu Dhabi they all called for manufacturers to remove distribution barriers and improve the speed of delivery. In addition to this, the business leaders shared the same vision of empowering youth with high-tech skills which they feel is required in order to drive the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and is critical to sustaining economic growth in the region.

‘The transition from low-tech to high-tech manufacturing across Asia Pacific’ was the theme of a high-level panel discussion that delivered representatives from business leaders from across Asia on the first day of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), taking place at the Paris-Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi. Panellists agreed on the need for managerial innovation, the removal of distribution barriers between countries, and the need for sheer speed of delivery to customers in the age of instant gratification, in order to fully take advantage of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation.

“By promoting IoT through intelligence of manufacturing, production will become more resilient,” said Yan Yunfu, Executive Director and Chief Engineer at Shanghai Heavy Industries Co. “There will be a reduction in production cost, a decrease in the difficulty and intensity of labour as well as in the need for low-skilled workers. In some sectors, we can replace arduous labour completely.” He highlighted that the focus is not just on technology, but on empowering youth with the necessary knowledge to succeed. “Advanced manufacturing labs need to be set up for practical applications for college students to practice and understand before they enter the job market.”

Anders Karlborg, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, ZTE Corporation said: “China needs to be competitive in the high-tech industry, also. In the low-tech industry, they are still very competitive. To remain competitive, China will buy 150,000 robots per year for industrial manufacturing, moving from human to machine. Another factor to consider is that we need to rely on other countries besides China and on production and value-added services closer to our customers who are all around the world.”

“While many industries are operating at the 4.0 level in Asia, some industries are still in 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0; you have to go through those stages in order to move up to 4.0,” said Professor Daniel Cheng, Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries. “In fact, many industries use ‘cobot’, a combination of machine and human labour that work together. China is doing a lot of work in the automation of robots which will speed up the process, however adaptation to the Fourth Industrial Revolution will take time. We are moving in the right direction.”

Arthur Tan, CEO of Integrated Micro-Electronics, and President and CEO of Ayala Industrial Technology Holdings said: “The new generation don’t want to work in a factory which means this gap needs to be addressed with smart manufacturing. We need to focus on education of the workforce as there will be a new skillset required for high-tech jobs in which the data will need to be analysed and used to continuously improve production and products.”

Lu Pengqi, Vice Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said that China was working on connectivity and co-operation with other nations throughout Eurasia through the Belt and Road Initiative: “The Belt and Road Initiative opens doors for cross border investments and supply chain cooperation, and fosters inclusive growth and development for China and its partners. The initiative presents opportunities in facilities connectivity, and supports large-scale infrastructural developmental projects. For developing and emerging economies, investment and trade boost economic growth and development for the benefit of all.”

The inaugural Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit being held at the Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi University, UAE, until March, is a joint initiative by the UAE Ministry of Economy and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and co-hosted with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, the Summit is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The Summit is the world’s first global gathering for the manufacturing community, bringing together decision-making leaders from governments, businesses and civil society organizations to shape a vision for the sector’s future.

The Summit is a global platform for participating attendees to learn from best practices from across the world. This unprecedented global gathering will spark new ideas and set the stage for debate and action – addressing ways in which manufacturing can shape and reshape the world, integrating activities between developed and emerging markets, and delivering on social responsibility towards future generations. Leaders from the public and private sectors, along with representatives from civil society organizations, will gather to discuss global challenges within the manufacturing sector, looking specifically at six themes: technology and innovation; global value chains; skills, employment and education; sustainability and environment; infrastructure; standards, and stakeholder alignment.