The nation’s machinery makers should lead in the era of “Industry 4.0” to avoid wasting resources, the head of the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry (TAMI, 台灣機械公會) said yesterday, adding a call for close collaboration among research institutes, academia and the government.
“The industrial end is the side that knows where the demands are,” TAMI chairman Alex Ko (柯拔希) said on the sidelines of the Taipei Manufacturing Technology Show at the Taipei World Trade Center’s Nangang Exhibition Hall.
Ko said that Taiwan has advantages in the IT industry, which machinery players could use to create new opportunities in smart manufacturing.
He said IT companies such as Delta Electronics Inc (台達電) and Advantech Co (研華) have joined the trend.
The association billed last year as the first year of “smart machinery” manufacturing and is expecting more orders of such products in the next two years, Ko said.
“We have done more than enough to promote Industry 4.0 as the main axis of the machinery industry,” Ko said, adding that now is the time to sell such products to the world.
Fatex Co (發得科技) is one of the companies taking part in the exhibition that has joined the Industry 4.0 bandwagon, Ko said.
The company’s production line is equipped with automatic virtual metrology (AVM), with many of its smart applications destined to reach the Turkish market by the end of this month and Indian customers next month, he said.
Taiwan’s machinery equipment exports fell 6.8 percent annually to US$20.1 billion (NT$620.8 million) last year, and the lackluster performance continued in the first quarter, with exports dropping 9.1 percent annually to US$4.89 billion, government data showed.
Overall, the machinery industry reported output of NT$955 billion last year, down 3 percent from a year earlier, Ko said.
However, Ko is optimistic about the industry’s outlook this year, citing more than NT$15 billion in orders received last month at a machine tool exhibition in Shanghai and a few billion New Taiwan dollars in orders collected at a plastics and rubber exhibition in Shanghai the same month.
In addition, the incoming Democratic Progressive Party administration, which is to take office on May 20, has called smart manufacturing one of the nation’s five “creative industries.”
“We hope investment by the government will go straight to the machinery industry, which would help it become the engine to drive everyone who is onboard,” Ko said.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese machine tool makers are eyeing aerospace opportunities, valued at US$5.2 trillion in business potential per year, TAMI machine tool committee chairman David Chuang (莊大立) said at a separate event.
Chuang said the industry is facing challenges from Japanese and South Korean peers in terms of less favorable tariffs and foreign-exchange rates, and therefore local companies should seek to cooperate to boost competitiveness.
In the first quarter, the nation’s machine tool exports dropped 20.7 percent annually to US$634 million due to depreciation of the yen and won against the US dollar, TAMI said.