Lot of Industry 4.0 room for Vietnamese SMEs

By Ngan Anh   November 7, 2018 | 03:00 am PT
Lot of Industry 4.0 room for Vietnamese SMEs
Challenges related to industry and size do not hinder SMEs in Industry 4.0. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Contrary to popular perception that Industry 4.0 sidelines SMEs, smaller firms can better leverage the revolution, experts say.

At the Tetra Pak factory that supplies billions of paper boxes, processing and packaging equipment to dairy and beverage firms all over the world, including Vietnam, 4.0 technology is applied to monitor the entire production process.

Tetra Pak recently launched its new Plant Secure system, a plant management service that starts with a detailed audit of all the equipment and systems across the customer’s value chain.

This analysis enables specialists to identify opportunities and implement improvements across the customer’s entire operations. 

Industry 4.0 is the new trend of automation using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence to optimize commerce, production and manufacturing.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers with foreign-invested capital are also in the 4.0 technology race as they strive to meet the ever-increasing demand for better quality and lower production costs.

There are fears that this technology race is only for big businesses, leaving behind small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have less capital and human resources.

However, Ho Tu Bao, director of the John von Neumann Institute, said that challenges related to industry and size need not hinder SMEs participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.

"I still see that there a path for SMEs. Even in areas of high complexity, there is still room for both large and small enterprises to participate," Bao said.

Laurence Mott, vice president, Development and Engineering, Tetra Pak, agreed: "I don’t think industry 4.0 is just for big companies. I think it’s for all companies."

"The nice thing about most techs is that they do not rely on very big capital investments. They rely on investments in capabilities, understandings and partnerships," he said.

On the other hand, some experts argue that Industry 4.0 may be even more favourable to SMEs and startups than bigger businesses.

They say small businesses can adopt faster to new technology, make faster decisions, and think more openly than corporations that have been operating for many years and have thousands of people.

SMEs should seek advice and build partnerships with multinational companies that have strong presence in Industry 4.0, like Microsoft in the IT field or Tetra Pak in the food and beverage sector, they said.

With the support and cooperation of multinational companies, small and medium enterprises can inherit modern technology at low cost and get guidance on their operations.

Pham Tran Anh, head of Microsoft Vietnam’s Corporate Clients and Partners Division, said that the fourth industrial revolution offers many growth opportunities for small and medium enterprises as it provides a modern technological foundation, which the enterprises can use to easily access huge amounts of data on the market and customers to build effective business strategies.

Vu Ngoc Anh, managing director of Association of Vietnamese Scientists and Experts (AVSE Global) said that there should be a more friendly and practical approach towards Industry 4.0 for SMEs.

At the same time, SMEs themselves need to be more proactive about innovation.

He said: "We would like Industry 4.0 to get closer and more realistic for the small and medium enterprises community in Vietnam. These are young, dynamic companies that can create a good environment to foster innovation and the startup spirit."

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