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How Malaysia’s Car Industry is Getting a Tech Turbo Boost

March 11, 2021
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Malaysia’s national car maker Proton recently shared its vision of the future of car manufacturing during the Smart Manufacturing Circuit 2020 virtual event, which was organised by TM ONE, tapped a new range of tech to enhance its manufacturing processes. Just one example is the use of cloud computing to run simulations for modelling new car designs.

One of Malaysia’s largest car makers is pivoting to new tech.

On New Year’s Eve 1879, German inventor Karl Benz rang in the new year on the world’s first modern automobile. The vehicle seated two, ran on three wire-spoked wheels, and proceeded to revolutionise the future of transport.

Since their invention, we have seen much progress in the safety, speed and production efficiency of automobiles. Today, the industry is about to drive into a new era of growth, driven by tech advances such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and cloud computing.

Malaysia’s national car maker Proton recently shared its vision of the future of car manufacturing during the Smart Manufacturing Circuit 2020 virtual event, which was organised by TM ONE, the enterprise and public sector business arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM).

Automotive Tech

PROTON tapped a new range of tech to enhance its manufacturing processes. Just one example is the use of cloud computing to run simulations for modelling new car designs.

By using the cloud’s high compute power, the time taken to generate simulations has dropped from three weeks to a mere three days, according to Hazrin Fazail Haroon, the company’s Director of Research & Development.

Engineers are now able to produce prototypes far more rapidly and accurately through 3D modelling. This approach enables car makers to confirm the exact dimensions of different parts before the cutting process begins. “This eliminates waste and extra costs that we have to pay if there are mistakes in the design,” Hazrin explained.

PROTON also uses computer aided engineering (CAE) to speed through the manufacturing journey. Engineers are able to create programmes to carry out repetitive processes, he said.

Tech companies such as Huawei are focusing their efforts on car manufacturers. Huawei is evaluating the use of 5G and IoT to improve vehicle safety. Future automobiles will be able to predict traffic congestions and remain connected with other similarly equipped vehicles and traffic systems, said Eng Chew Hian, Business Development Director at HUAWEI CLOUD Malaysia.

Huawei is also probing the possibility of preparing electric vehicles for Malaysia and the Southeast Asian market. Currently, electric cars may corrode more easily in the region’s humid climate, Eng pointed out. This will need to be fixed before they become a feasible mainstream option.

Build talent

“Before you develop the products, you need to develop the people,” Hazrin said. PROTON has long collaborated with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and Malaysia Automotive, Robotics & IoT Institute (MARii) to build up tech talent for the automobile industry.

The first initiative in this partnership was a training centre launched last August in Cyberjaya. Engineers and suppliers receive training for computer aided engineering at the CAE Simulation & Analysis Centre (MARSAC), so they can bring the knowledge back to their companies, Hazrin noted.

This will help companies develop their own components and systems, and speed the process of producing high quality products. “We hope this centre will grow to become an institute that can also give certifications to not just our suppliers but the whole community of university students, lecturers, and PhD students,” he added.

The Centre will soon extend its training programmes to include 3D printing skills for the automobile sector. Instead of using calculations, car makers can more closely study their design physically with 3D-printed models. The programme, known as the MARii Additive Manufacturing Technology Centre (MAMTEC), will begin in April 2021, Hazrin said.

Policymakers have a big part to play in building tech talent, PROTON believes. The company engage constantly with the government to understand “the areas of emphasis that we need to work on, what will be the platform that can be made available, and how we are going to pursue all these initiatives together for the future,” said Yusri Yusuf, Senior Director of Corporate Strategy & Risk Management at Proton.

Tech companies can contribute their expertise as well. Huawei Academy is exploring the possibility of partnering with PROTON, and universities to better share cutting edge technologies with students, said Eng.

A tech revival

Embracing tech proved to be key to PROTON’s turnaround in sales, especially since the release of a talking smart car in 2018 which became the company’s turning point.

The Proton X70 model features voice command: drivers can ask the car to play a song, or check for weather updates. Customers are also able to lock the car from their smartphone, a promotional video shows.

The model’s tech upgrade “has enabled us to upscale in terms of competitive advantage, and we have received overwhelming feedback for X70 as well X50 compared to our anticipation,” said Yusri. The X70’s introduction has proved to be an “impetus for Proton’s brand turnaround”.

Following the success of X70 and X50, digital technology will continue to be one of key emphases for PROTON, as it sees the traction of advanced technologies on its business growth. The car maker will focus on improving five aspects: energy efficiency, safety, intelligent driving, intelligent connectivity and eco-friendliness, Yusri shared. This will cover the entire ecosystem: from sales, marketing and customer service, and all the way through to the broader supply chain.

In terms of collaboration in the tech ecosystem, PROTON will continue to work with tech companies to strengthen its tech for its key automotive value chain activities, in particular in product development, component sourcing and supply chain, manufacturing, and sales and services. It will focus on specific tech such as connectivity, new energy and electrical and electronics.

The session with PROTON was moderated by Maznan Deraman, Head of Innovative Solutions at TM ONE. He said, “In order to move forward and create a competitive edge in a challenging market, organisations need to have a clear strategy, a strong partnership ecosystem, and a deep belief in technology and innovation. By working together, we can bring our dreams and ambitions to reality.”

“At TM ONE, we always look forward to working with industry players such as PROTON – especially in elevating national brands towards becoming global champions. It is our role as the technology enabler – to support our partners with cutting-edge technology and complete digital infrastructure and help them take advantage of their digital opportunities,” Maznan concluded.

The pandemic has resulted in immense stress on global supply chains, while customer expectations are rising by the day. Digital technologies and strong partnerships, in tandem with government and tech companies, will help Malaysia’s automobile industry remain resilient.

Smoothing the Transition to Smart Manufacturing

October 03, 2021
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Paper-based maintenance, planning and quality acceptance plans are now bygone. The future belongs to sensors, integrated systems algorithms and cloud-based software solutions to define and optimise the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). In an idyllic factory situation, equipment would function 100 percent of the time at 100 percent capacity, with quality production of 100 percent. In the real world, however, this situation is rare. Therefore, calculating the overall OEE is a crucial process to improve processes, consistency, quality, and productivity.

CELEBRATING SUCCESS : How EPF Digitalising its Customer Journey

September 30, 2021
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Employees’ Provident Fund of Malaysia (EPF) plays a central role in securing Malaysians’ retirement needs. As Malaysia’s public provident fund, EPF serves over 14.5 million members and manages a portfolio value of over RM1.0 trillion.

With digital channels becoming a norm in work and lifestyle needs, the importance of building these channels must be a priority. To that end, EPF has recognised these growing demands and initiated its Operations Transformation 2.0 back in 2017. Since then, the fund has engaged in several digitalisation initiatives. These initiatives serve to improve both the customer experience and internal operational efficiency.

Our article seeks answers to the following questions:

  1. How is EPF improving the digital experience of its members?
  2. How is EPF creating new channels & services to drive the participation of its members and widen its coverage?

Building a comprehensive omnichannel experience

1. Continuous enhancement to the i-Akaun platform on mobile and web applications

The i-Akaun platform is the primary digital channel for a customer’s interaction with EPF. It is accessible via the internet and more recent mobile applications – the i-Akaun app (for members) and the e-Caruman app (for employers). Some functions performed through these applications include checking account balances, monitoring transaction status, enabling payments, etc.

Since its launch, EPF has continuously introduced new updates/services onto its i-Akaun mobile application. In 2019, several updates included new PDF-format statements for downloads, targeted push notifications, a branch locator service, and fund performance monitoring for its i-Invest users.

With these improvements, the i-Akaun platform has gained commendable acceptance among its members in the past five (5) years. From 2017, the growth in i-Akaun membership grew by at least 70%, with 52.06% of their 14.5 million members registered on i-Akaun. On the employers’ side, 99.36% of 522,297 employers registered for i-Akaun.

To date, the i-Akaun application has nearly 1.5 million downloads with an average rating of 4.5. Both the growing user base and reviews reflect EPF’s focus on building these digital channels.

2. Enhancements to brick-and-mortar branches

To extend the digital experience onto its physical branches, EPF has continuously introduced new processes to improve customer interactions at the branch. The focus here is to provide effective self-service channels and superior customer service.

EPF designed its branches as a one-stop-centre approach. Apart from e-kiosks, EPF also introduced initiatives to provide advisory training for its staff. Nowadays, customers, tend to prefer self-service channels due to their efficiency and ease of use. Hence, EPF recognised that its staff could provide higher value as retirement advisors.

To execute this training plan, EPF introduced the Retirement Advisory Services (RAS) in July 2014, which is now available in 52 branches. The latest figures show that more than 82,000 members received advisory services that RAS provided.

3. E-payroll Services for SMEs

EPF also pays attention to services beyond its core functions. For example, in June 2021, EPF unveiled an e-Payroll service to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs with a digitalised payroll system. This service complements the i-Akaun platform for employers. It ensures that they meet and monitor statutory obligations and employee contributions.

The e-payroll service aims to ease the difficulties that small business owners face in terms of the financial constraints to adopt a digital payroll solution. Some features include the ability to store digital records, monitor account contributions, automate calculations, and many more.

The range of services provided by EPF is indeed commendable. The increase in customer interactions through electronic channels suggests that customers are strongly shifting towards digital channels provided by the fund. In 2019, self-service channels via kiosks and the i-Akaun platform recorded 104.88 million interactions, a 24.12% increase from 2018.

EPF’s Contact Management Centre (CMC), which handles customer inquiries mainly through telephone or email, recorded a 27.16% decrease from 2018. Customers are increasingly attuned to digital channels as opposed to traditional face-to-face interactions according to these statistics.

Launched new services to drive participation & increase coverage

1. Introduced i-Invest platform to drive participation from members

The introduction of this service was a new one for the industry. EPF was the first public retirement fund that allowed its members to invest their retirement savings directly into unit trust funds of their choice. Customers also enjoy significantly lower sales charges through this service. The sales charge ranges from 0%-0.5%compared to the standard range of 2%-3% often charged by intermediaries.

The i-Invest service also includes tools for its members to monitor all the relevant information on the unit trust funds they selected actively. Through these tools, EPF encourages higher participation from its members.

2. Building programmes for gig economy workers

EPF continues to face the challenge to cover a broader range of Malaysian workers. The growing size of the gig economy is one of the leading causes of this. Estimates indicate that gig workers would represent more than a third of Malaysia’s labour force in the next five (5) years. With the pandemic’s impact on job losses, this situation may worsen as Malaysians continue to find alternative income sources.

To counter this, EPF introduced the i-Saraan programme in mid-2020. Through this programme, self-employed workers can voluntarily contribute to their EPF accounts. This programme was designed to encourage gig economy workers to save up for retirement. The pickup has been encouraging, with recent registrations increasing by 22.11% in 2019 with 120,738 registrations.

The government has also championed this initiative by introducing an RM50 million matching grant for i-Saraan investors in June 2020.  In addition, EPF has engaged with the private sector, most notably collaborating with Grab Malaysia by extending their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed back in 2018. Like the government’s matching grant, this MOU commits Grab to match contributions by up to 5% with a ceiling of RM80 annually for those below 55 years old. Those above 55 years old are guaranteed matching contributions of 10% with a ceiling of RM120 annually.

How you can emulate EPF

  • The customer satisfaction levels are a reflection of the customer-focused culture that is present in EPF. Merely digitalising is not the answer. Businesses need to understand the specific customer journey pain points to build solutions effectively.
  • Observing EPF, the fund placed a strong emphasis on creating a comprehensive omnichannel experience, one that could meet the demands of different types of customers. This is crucial to ensure consistent customer satisfaction and provide a seamless onboarding process onto digital channels.

Rehabilitation of Nation’s Healthcare – Transforming Healthcare through the Post Pandemic Era

September 13, 2021
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The COVID-19 outbreak has placed a massive strain on the global healthcare sector’s workforce, infrastructure, and supply chain. Medical practitioners are exhausted, and healthcare systems are forced beyond limits to the brink of breaking down. Despite the many challenges, a decrease in revenues and rising operational costs, healthcare players continue to push forward, committed in providing high quality healthcare services to patients. Nonetheless, the pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of healthcare systems worldwide. Striking at the nation-building heart of many countries, the pandemic has significantly disrupted social, political, economic and healthcare systems around the world.

However, we have also seen the emergence of foundational shifts arising from COVID-19. Needle mover initiatives are being made globally by both public and private sectors, recognising the need to relook healthcare ecosystem modernisation towards a comprehensive, integrated digitisation and digitalisation. New coping strategies, involving the accelerated adoption of telemedicine, smart health and other technologies, are considered as imperatives. Amid these dynamics, public sectors, healthcare providers, players, and other stakeholders around the globe are being challenged to pivot, adapt, and innovate at speed to amplify the reach and effectiveness of healthcare.

The Digital Front Door 

A smart health approach typically makes use of interconnected technologies to embrace the entire spectrum of healthcare providers, consumers and researchers to ensure the delivery of cutting-edge care that is comprehensive, collaborative, efficient – recognising the needs of patients and their families as well as healthcare practitioners and administrators. The use of telemedicine, complemented by analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), data protection and scalable cloud ecosystem is gaining traction. The pandemic has opened doors for AI and other digital technologies to solve complex clinical and non-clinical problems.

A recent report published by McKinsey & Company highlights that telehealth utilisation has stabilised at levels 38X higher than before the pandemic. Similarly, consumer and provider attitudes toward telehealth have also improved. Investment in virtual care and digital health have broadly skyrocketed. Additionally, virtual healthcare models and business models are continuing to evolve.

However, some hurdles, such as concerns around technology security, need to be addressed. TM ONE has innovated a complete ecosystem of healthcare solutions, which is modular and interoperable with external systems connected via TM ONE Cloud α (pronounced as Cloud Alpha) and TM ONE Cybersecurity (CYDEC) to ensure world class security. McKinsey points out that, the ‘digital front door’ will not be closing as patients and providers have appreciated and embraced the convenience and flexibility of this type of care especially during the healthcare crisis. As we gradually move through and onwards into recovery, a key concern for any health system will be scaling and sustaining these digital interactions.

Driven by Human Experience

Consumers expect industry leaders to leverage on the momentum created in the pandemic to continue to propel healthcare forward, especially as good healthcare services is a key hallmark of sustainable future ready nation building. According to Deloitte, collaborations and the human experience are two (2) of six (6) pressing sector issues that are expected to shape and navigate the healthcare industry into and through the evolving ‘next normal’.

Healthcare technologies, which especially appeal to the digital first generation, has inspired deeper levels of activity, engagement and enhanced patient experience. A visit to the doctor is already a worrying experience for some without having to deal with the paperwork, hours of waiting time and patient care. On a wider front, consumers are using technology to monitor their health, measure fitness, order prescriptions and schedule doctor’s appointments. Eighty percent (80%) of consumers report that they are most likely to have another virtual visit even post pandemic. Pandemic experience has shown that the best path to effectively enabling digital solutions requires various levels of smart collaboration moving away from siloed record systems. Providing a comprehensive end-to-end integrated patients experience management platform with insights, one which is truly beneficial for consumers and patients — calls for collaborative arrangements, which embrace data platforms, disruptive entrants, public/private partnerships, and health system platforms integration.

TM ONE Healthcare understands the complexities of the healthcare industry. It will simplify the electronic medical records platform, and channel patients, healthcare providers and funders into a single, secured, standardised and cost-effective solution. With extensive experience in rolling out clinic management systems and electronic medical records, together with a dedicated team to maintain and provide adequate support to end users and partners, TM ONE Healthcare will ensure the best experience for all stakeholders.

Smart Services Key Towards IR4.0 For Your Business

August 24, 2021
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Maznan Bin Deraman

Maznan is the Head of Innovative Solutions at TM ONE and is an experienced digital transformation practitioner with 26 years of demonstrated knowledge in Telco and ICT business which include research and development, network operation, Go-to-Market strategy, sales planning, product and partnership development. Now embarking to propel the innovation of state-of-the-art IoT, AI-driven smart services, 5G commercial use cases and cybersecurity services.

Q Many Malaysian enterprises are predicted to adopt Industry Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) in the next few years, and smart services can have massive implications to the core elements of a company’s business model. How can smart services integration propel enterprises to the next frontier of the IR4.0 ecosystem?

For enterprises, incorporating IR4.0 means expanding their value-creation capabilities and business models by implementing smart services technologies such as advanced sensors, big data analytics, intelligent robotics, machine learning and Cloud computing, not forgetting cybersecurity and Internet of Things (IoT). With connected and intelligent ecosystems, transmitting data in near real-time, smart services transform the experience for enterprises and the lifestyle of consumers with smarter living, smarter workplace, smarter business operation and smarter community, by embedding intelligence into critical infrastructure and everyday objects.

At the end of the day, organisations can unleash greater innovation, enhance customer experience, and improve visibility, profitability, and resilience. This in turn enables them to unlock a new generation of revenue streams, efficiency measures, and people-empowering strategies.

Q Some organisations may view smart services as something that is ‘good to have’, especially in this challenging pandemic-laden business environment. Is there a real return to investing in smart services?

Since the pandemic, enterprises must find ways to become more efficient and transform if not all, most of their business operations to digital. Smart services convert manual processes to digitalised and automated processes powered by analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. This helps to optimise performance, minimise disruptions, and reduce downtime; in real-time and accurately.

There are countless use cases for smart services across all verticals, and have proven that the investments brought positive returns. A critical success factor lies in a good execution plan. Unfortunately, many organisations failed to extract value from smart services due to lack of expertise and haphazard implementation. When the solutions involve different types of technologies, implementation complexity and operational expertise, you need to have well experienced strategic digital solutions partner(s) with the know-how and proven track record to guide you through the journey, especially during the early stage of adoption.

Q Why TM ONE is the right partner in supporting your digital transformation journey?

As an enabler for the smart service ecosystem, TM ONE focuses on the platform strategy that has been designed to be technology-agnostic. This essentially enables multiple service providers to come on board our smart services ecosystem. Regardless of your vertical – manufacturing, retail, services, healthcare, education, government, or agriculture – TM ONE’s team of experts, ecosystem of service providers and end-to-end digital infrastructure make up comprehensive offerings to facilitate your journey towards IR4.0 more efficiently and easily.

In addition, TM ONE’s Integrated Operations Centre (IOC), part of our smart services offerings, continuously monitors and manages connected solutions to ensure adherence to service level agreements (SLAs), ease management, and lower cost of maintaining a smart services deployment. This is also supported by TM ONE Cloud α and Cyber Defence Centre (CYDEC) as its digital foundation, providing it with infrastructure, software platforms, industry solutions and ecosystems, and services to create and manage connected implementations securely and effectively. As the sole Malaysian Cloud Service Provider (CSP) for the Government, TM ONE through its Smart Services is the most visible ambassador of digital transformation, taking Malaysia a step closer to Digital Malaysia and taking transformation forward for Malaysian organisations.

This article was written in collaboration with The Edge.

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