Above image: ABB’s new
facility in Rayong Province, Thailand, to produce machine-tending robotics, opened
earlier this month/ Credit: ABB
In a recent
press release, the Board of Investments (BOI) in Thailand highlighted the
importance of robotics and automation technology in the Thailand 4.0 model.
During the last three decades, Thailand has become a leader
in the global automotive and electronics and electrical appliance industries,
the two industries primarily responsible for driving global robotics and
The press release notes that as the world’s second-largest
global producer and exporter of hard-disk drives and the world’s sixth-largest
commercial vehicle producer, Thailand has already been using robotics and
Over the past few years, manufacturers in Thailand have
invested heavily in machinery and systems to increase the utilisation of
automation system and remain competitive in the global manufacturing arena. Around
50 per cent of manufacturers in the country are considering the adoption of
automation systems within 1-3 years, while medium-sized businesses are expected
to be ready in 3-5 years, followed by small companies in five years or more.
BOI says that this development has opened greater
opportunities in Thailand’s robotics and automation industry. Due to this
strong customer base, the industrial robotics industry in Thailand has expanded
significantly over the past decade. The size of Thailand’s shipments of
industrial robots is estimated to increase by 133% from 2,131 units in 2013 to
7,500 units in 2018.
“We now see many companies transitioning into industry 4.0,
making use of artificial intelligence, big data management and the Internet of
Things to seamlessly work together to exponentially increase both production
and productivity,” explained Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of
Automation and Robotics is among the 10 targeted
industries under Thailand 4.0. These industries can be divided into
two segments: 1) First S-curve or five existing industrial sectors (which can
be developed by adding value through advanced technologies (Next-Generation
Automotive, Smart Electronics, High-Income Tourism and Medical Tourism,
Efficient Agriculture and Biotechnology and Food Innovation) and 2) New S-curve
or five sectors which can serve as growth engines to accelerate Thailand’s
future growth (Automation and Robotics, Aerospace, Bio-Energy and
Bio-chemicals, Digital and Medical and Healthcare).
While demand is constantly increasing, Thailand’s
infrastructure and ecosystem are ready to support the robotics and automation
To support this policy, educational institutions are providing
support for research and development and human resource training. For example,
the Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) of King Mongkut’s University of
Technology, Thonburi, is offering undergraduate and graduate programmes in
robotics and automation engineering. In 2015, 76 universities and 83 vocational
schools produced 82,259 graduates in engineering and related courses.
The BOI is offering a wide range of tax and non-tax
investment incentives for projects that meet national development objectives.
The BOI offers up to eight years of corporate income tax on machinery and
import duty for raw material for export production.
For projects related to assembling robots or automation
equipment and/or automation parts, investors will enjoy a five-year corporate
tax exemption. The companies investing in robotics and automation in EEC area (Eastern
Economic Corridor) will receive another 50 per cent corporate income tax
reduction for another five years.
The Government is also providing non-tax incentives such as
permission to bring in expatriates, own land and take or remit foreign currency
Ms. Duangjai also the social context. “Considering that
Thailand aims to be the medical hub of Asia and that the country is rapidly
becoming an ageing society, service robots that can be integrated with people’s
lifestyle are increasingly important,” she said
The press release highlights several innovations in medical
robotics. These include Fhasai, robot-assisted therapy for children with autism
spectrum disorders; Dinsow, an elderly care robot; Sensible Tab, an arm
rehabilitation robot; B-Hive, a pharmacy automation system to refill medicines
at a rate of 20 seconds per prescription; and Bumbee, a medical dispenser