Malaysia’s manufacturing industry has long been heralded as a cornerstone of the nation’s economic prowess, exhibiting resilience and potential, with an estimated growth of 61 percent to an astounding RM587. 5 billion ($123.84B) in GDP by 2030. However, as the global landscape evolves, the industry continues to be overwhelmed by pressing challenges that demand more creative and innovative solutions with the help of technology.

Despite positive projections over the coming years, Malaysian manufacturers are still grappling with inefficiencies stemming from outdated technologies that are evidently putting them at risk of cyber attacks while also being very costly to maintain compared to adopting new and dynamic solutions.  Besides that, with internal reluctance to adapt and adopt by embracing new technologies like automation, on top of the persistent challenges of labor shortages and supply chain disruptions, there is a lot to be done to achieve higher efficiency.

Hence, there is no question as to why automation is no longer a luxury – it is now an essential tool for the manufacturing sector to iron out any wrinkles and ensure maximum efficiency in the day-to-day process.

Defining the industry’s capabilities in making necessary changes

The labor shortage in manufacturing has long been a prevalent industry problem, relying mostly on foreign labor to manage the manual work processes on the ground. As the majority of their existing workers are less equipped with basic tech skills, followed by supply chain disruptions, cost constraints, and reluctance to drastic changes, it is no wonder that the industry struggles to catch up with technological advancements.

While multinational corporations in manufacturing that have a strong presence in Malaysia are fully capable of deploying new technological developments in their everyday processes, the adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies in Malaysia is still lagging among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Making up a majority of the manufacturing sector, these firms often struggle significantly more than MNCs to understand the true benefits of automation to even justify the cost of transitioning to automation, directing their focus on output first and how new solutions can directly and immediately increase profits to break even.

Due to their reluctance, SME manufacturers are prone to rely on their legacy systems longer than they should, directly affecting their output efficiency and overall productivity. They end up contributing to their downfall, drowning employees in manual work that could easily be automated, such as e-invoicing processes, invoice reconciliation, and purchase order processing. To combat their issues and distrust of new tools and changes, it is vital to consider solutions that are comprehensive, cost-effective, and easy to use to avoid change resistance from employees.

Enter automation: A catalyst for transformation

Automation serves as a multifaceted solution in manufacturing to solve a variety of issues in one. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is able to automate numerous repetitive manual tasks to increase efficiency by saving time and any additional costs caused by human errors. Our solution, akaBot, for instance, offers several key advantages that can be leveraged by Malaysian SMEs in manufacturing, particularly its adaptability, cost-effectiveness, and scalability.

Consider the following findings: RPA solutions have shown an impressive ability to achieve undeniable results in different manufacturing processes, such as a 90 percent reduction in processing time, and up to 80 percent in cost savings. This directly affects the overall output efficiency, as employees can redirect their attention to more pressing tasks that require direct human intervention, while companies can afford to invest in more impactful tools for their teams. While different RPA solutions may offer a variation of competitive benefits and packages, the benefits of an RPA are similar, and also undeniably clear. With more mundane tasks taken over by automation, employees are also able to free up their mental load to focus on higher value and more impactful tasks for the company.

Other than that, RPA’s proactive approach to managing essential tasks like invoice reconciliation and purchase order processing allows SME manufacturers in Malaysia to achieve more tangible results in accuracy and efficiency, slashing processing time significantly while reducing human errors in data input. With an accuracy rate of 99 percent in managing supply chain disruptions, inventory monitoring capabilities, and purchase order management, RPA can also directly impact the seamlessness of a manufacturer’s supply chain.

Looking ahead: The future of automation in manufacturing in Malaysia

The future of automation in Malaysia’s manufacturing industry holds great promise. Its potential to work collaboratively with humans in the sector shows the irreplaceable nature of the human workforce without denying the importance of technological advancements in manufacturing. As of 2024 and in the years to come, RPA stands to complement the human workforce effectively, supplementing where necessary to cut costs while also keeping employees engaged. With the promise of cost-effectiveness, scalability, and increased efficiency and accuracy, companies are set to reap more of the benefits of RPA with time and continued use, fortifying their position in the local and global marketplace further as they continue to embrace a healthy human-machine collaboration.

Employers will be required to continuously foster a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn in their companies to ensure the sustained momentum of technology adoption in the future. Allowing open communication and collaboration to adapt to evolving times remains a compelling step to encourage continued improvements and a more competitive market. At the end of the day, we are looking at the same goal – to build a more dynamic and resilient industry that is ultimately future-proof. By partnering with leaders in RPA technology, Malaysian manufacturers can unlock their full potential, driving efficiency, innovation, and sustainable growth for years to come.

As the Country Manager for akaBot in Malaysia, Ginny Truc To takes the lead in revolutionizing business processes through innovative automation technology. With 9 years of experience in the tech industry, she is dedicated to implementing RPA solutions that streamline operations and drive efficiency.

As businesses in Malaysia increasingly embrace digital transformation, RPA technology & akaBot continue to play a pivotal role in revolutionizing processes and driving operational excellence through its RPA offerings. Ginny fosters strong relationships with key stakeholders, collaborating closely with clients to understand their pain points and deliver bespoke RPA strategies that drive sustainable growth. Driven by the passion for leveraging RPA’s potential. Ginny continues to lead transformative initiatives that propel businesses towards success within the Malaysia market.

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