Thailand and Japan to train at least 1,400 skilled robotics specialists

An announcement made by the Bangkok Post highlighted the consortium agreement between Thailand and Japan for the development of at least 1,400 robotics specialists within the next 3 years. Thai government is keen on supporting robotics and system integration as these can improve SMEs.

A consortium for the development of robotics specialists was agreed upon by Thailand and Japan. This joint endeavour aims to produce at least 1,400 people who are skilled in the field within a time frame of 3 years, from 2018 until 2021.

The following make up the consortium: the Ministry of Industry, the Technology Promotion Association (Thailand-Japan), the Japan-Thailand Economic Cooperation Society, the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) Bangkok, and Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana said that the consortium hopes to draw up an action plan for robotics and system integration (SI) within the next two weeks.

"The government is very keen to promote and support the usage of robotics and SI, and we are confident that these systems cam improve our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in terms of productivity, efficiency and competitiveness," he said.

The Thai government met with 30 foreign firms in the robotics and automation systems sector, last year, who expressed their intention to invest in the country after the government began pushing its flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme.

Among these foreign firms are well-known companies like Panasonic, Universal Robot, OTC Daihen, ABB Robotics, Kuka Robotics, Yaskawa Motoman, True Robotics, Okura Yusoki and Gerenga Service.

There are 3 EEC provinces. They are Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao. Most of the firms are interested to enter the first two EEC provinces mentioned.

Founder of the Institute of Field Robotics Dr Djitt Laowattana said that in 2018, a projected 60 million baht will be reached by investments in the robotics and SI sector in Thailand. This is due to the government's S-curve policy, with robotics being one of 10 targeted industries.

Also a committee chairman of the Ministry of Industry’s Robotics Cluster, Dr Djitt said, “That target can be reached, as many foreign firms have expressed their intention to invest in robotics here, including those from China, Japan and Europe.”

His forecast for the local demand for robotics and SI products was at 6,000-6,500 units annually. This figure is projected to increase with the Thailand 4.0 initiative. This government initiative was intended to upgrade the industrial sector with higher technology.

Minister Uttama added that the Ministry also met up with Ryoki Tool & Die Corporation, a Japanese parts maker that also expressed interest in investing in the aerospace services in Thailand.

The Japanese company is a designer and manufacturer of heavy press dies and is expanding in order to enter into the automobile parts, aircraft components and machining items business.

"Ryoki is interested in the EEC project, as it presents yet another opportunity to enter Southeast Asian markets’ 600 million population," Minister Uttama said.

He added, "The firm aims to invest in a maintenance repair overhaul centre at the U-Tapao airport, for which the government aims to announce the term of reference (ToR) this year."

The ToR for the U-Tapao aerotropolis, which is worth over 200 billion baht, will be open for bidding through a public-private partnership model in October 2018. The winner of which is expected to be unveiled early next year.

The first phase of the aerotropolis, which is targeted within the next five years, is for the linkage of three airports through a high-speed rail. The three airports to be connected are Don Mueang, Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao.

Minister Uttama assured foreign ambassadors that the EEC project will not be delayed. The 2018 EEC Act has already been implemented and related laws for the investments there are being drafted.

He further explained that the government believes that the scheduled national election targeted on February will not hinder the EEC scheme.

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