Taiwan’s smart machinery leaders are helping global manufacturers embrace the future. Taiwan aims to be one of the leaders in this space by inventing various technologies, from high-precision cutting machines, power presses and machine tools to industrial automation and collaborative robots. In the last decade, Taiwan has found itself squeezed between emerging economies and industrially developed economies. It has turned to smart machinery and smart manufacturing to protect its position on the world stage.
The Smart Machinery Initiative
Today, the success of Taiwan’s manufacturing sector results from several factors. These include an export-oriented economy, investment in high-tech manufacturing sectors, a highly educated workforce and a culture of continuous improvement. Taiwan has enacted the “5+2 Industrial Development Plan“, which included a $117 million Smart Machinery Initiative. The Industrial Technology Research Institute has also launched its Intelligent Manufacturing Pilot Production Site.
Taiwan’s Taichung City Precision Machinery Innovation Technology Park (TCPMP) is also driving the development of smart machinery and smart factories, and revolutionising the manufacturing sector. TCPMP is part of a national policy to upgrade the technology of the machinery industry. Taiwan has developed a complex machinery and machine tools ecosystem. As a result, TCPMP contains the highest concentration of machine tool manufacturing in the world.
A strong culture of pragmatism and continuous improvement allows Taiwanese manufacturers to remain flexible and move with the times. According to Monique Appeldoorn, Delta Electronics’ Marketing and Communications Manager,
Smart manufacturing is a perfect example of Taiwan’s culture of continuous improvement at work. Small-scale manufacturing, testing and R&D tend to happen in Taiwan while, once processes are honed, the Taiwanese are very pragmatic about moving large-scale manufacturing across to or other locations around the world.
Taiwan tends to retain less labour-intensive manufacturing onshore, along with research and development, which is where its smart machinery sector shines. As industrial robots and smart machinery learn to handle complex delicate tasks, rather than simply welding cars, it is allowing Taiwan to retain even more high-end manufacturing onshore.
Embracing Industry 4.0 in a Post-Pandemic World
The disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing the global demand for manufacturing processes that are less reliant on human labourers. Meanwhile, the US-China trade war is seeing companies diversifying manufacturing beyond China. There is a push for the US and Europe to revitalise their own manufacturing sectors to reduce their reliance on China. This trend also drives demand for Taiwan’s smart manufacturing technologies
A limited labour pool and high land costs are a challenge in Taiwan, but smart manufacturing technologies help overcome those challenges. The US-China trade war creates an opportunity, as Taiwan’s advances in automation, robots and cobots will allow more manufacturing to shift to Taiwan. It will also allow Taiwan to provide the technologies for smarter manufacturing around the globe.
Despite the challenges, Taiwan’s manufacturing sector is well-placed to assist companies around the globe with embracing smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0. Smart manufacturing technologies are not technologies that can be achieved overnight. However, many Taiwanese companies have been developing smart manufacturing over decades and have already achieved Industry 4.0 manufacturing.
Due to Taiwan’s manufacturing reliability and shared democratic values, Taiwan can be a key global supplier in the information and communications technology and other supply chains, such as the smart machinery industry, in the post-pandemic world.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan has long been a crucial partner in the global supply chain of semiconductor design and fabrication, typically assembling products for other companies to sell under their own brand. But alongside this industry are a host of homegrown Taiwanese companies manufacturing and marketing their own products globally.