By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
Professor Methi Wecharatana, head of structural engineering division at New Jersey Institute of Technology, said that in his view, Thailand 4.0 would deliver nothing to the country in the next five years because of the lack of a leapfrog strategy and a clear timeline to accomplish the scheme.
“Thailand 4.0 is a good economic scheme as at least it has a target about what the government would like to achieve through the scheme. However, the government has no sense of urgency and a clear timeline for Thailand 4.0,” said Methi, adding that the scheme needed to deliver something to the country within a certain period or in the next three to five years.
“I have not seen any concrete process to lead Thailand 4.0 to its objective. There is also no strategy to implement the scheme,” Methi said.
Methi said that in order to make Thailand 4.0 successful, the scheme should be deliverable and measurable.
Thailand 4.0 is an economic scheme aimed at developing a value-based economy and pull Thailand out of the middle-income trap.
The Thailand 4.0 development plan is focused on 10 targeted industries, which can be divided into two segments, developing existing industrial sectors by adding value through advanced technologies for five industries: next-generation automotive; smart electronics; high-income tourism and medical tourism; efficient agriculture and biotechnology; and food innovation.
The government has also targeted five additional growth engines to accelerate Thailand’s future growth: automation and robotics; aerospace; bio-energy and bio-chemicals; digital; and medical and healthcare.
Methi said the government should appoint a key player or so-called ‘Czar’, who will be in charge of each of those 10 targeted industries. Such key business players would set the plan and direction for their responsible industries and what they will deliver in the next three to five years. They would be able to identify stakeholders to be involved and make those targeted industries to be successful within the timeframe.
To make Thailand 4.0 successful, Methi said, the country’s key research body and federal lab, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), should be overhauled. With its duty is to produce innovations to the country, the NSTDA however has delivered nothing to the country over the past 30 years since it was set up.
“The NSTDA should not do all things, but focus on the development of particular strategic products, such as energy storage for electric vehicles or sensors for robots,” said Methi.
He said that universities had to get rid of the ‘Mafia’ people by allowing outsiders to become the president. They should give up academic services to raise money. Thailand should have educators, who will be in charge of the layout of an education foundation and plan and the grooming of students and university graduates to meet the demands of local businesses and industries, especially scientists and engineers.
Professor Surapongse Sotanasathien, a lecturer at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, said that as an initiator of Industrial 4.0, the German government in cooperation with the business sector had launched the revolution in 2012 and want the scheme to be completed by 2020.
The model of Industrial 4.0 today has been applied by many countries. However, this scheme cannot be enhanced and successful in just a short period of time.
Surapongse said that Industrial 4.0 is the industrial model that focuses on three key ideas, which are digitalisation, networking, and automation. Under Industrial 4.0, intelligent ICT-based manufacturing system and related facilities will work together into digital network, from local to global level. Industrial 4.0 will focus on full automation of the production process and the management of information by giving significant attention to network creation at every level.
“To achieve Industry 4.0, we need both long-term study, short-term training, and the evaluation of all supportive and encouraging factors, as well as the integration of production management to be in line with Industry 4.0 scheme,” he said.