Second Alumni Sustainability Talk in the Philippines: Industry 4.0
19 May 2018, The German Ambassador’s Residence, South Forbes Park, Makati
The 2nd Alumni Sustainability Talk in the Philippines was successfully conducted last 19 May 2018 at the German Ambassador’s Residence in South Forbes Park, Makati City. Co-organized with the German Embassy and DAAD, this year’s event focused on “Industry 4.0”, a German national initiative which is expected to transform the manufacturing landscape in the near future.
The event as attended by 67 Germany-Alumni and guests who were all eager to understand more on the opportunities and challenges that Industry 4.0 brings, and also to contribute to the discussions. Dr. Roland Schissau, Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy gave the Welcome Remarks and expressed his appreciation on the presence of the alumni who attended the event and encouraged everyone to give inputs, engage and share ideas. He stated that the event will provide distinct advantages of working together and exchange dynamics that is focused and knowledgeable. For her part Ms. Irina Scheffmann, Country Director of GIZ Regional Office in the Philippines and the Pacific, was impressed on the friendship between the Philippines and Germany and acknowledged the expertise of the alumni for this development approach. She encouraged the group to look into sustainable development in a holistic approach and to incorporate sustainability in any development process and in the society as a whole.
Mr. Ronaldo Limbago, Alumni Liaison Officer for Southeast Asia in GIZ Manila briefly discussed the importance of the Alumni Sustainability Talk, as it was designed to act as a forum for alumni and experts to exchange ideas, and contribute to sustainable development. He emphasized that the topic “Industry 4.0” is very timely considering today’s technological innovations which have led to society to think and do things differently.
Two experts were invited to speak on Industry 4.0. Mr. Narayanan Sreenivas, Group Managing Director of ASSIST-Asia and GIZ Alumni, explained the concept, background, and features of Industry 4.0 which is also equated to the 4th Industrial revolution. Mr. Sreenivas explained that while it may be a relatively new term, its foundations can be traced to the 3rd industrial revolution (electronics, IT, automation). Industry 4.0 is rooted in a new technological phenomena – digitization and cyber-physical systems. And while its immediate impacts are felt in the manufacturing sector, it also is about the transformation of society or life itself. It is the use of this revolution as a positive action to make society prepared; it is about interaction between humans and technology.
With Industry 4.0, the shift from simple digitization to innovation based on combinations of technologies forces companies to re-examine the way they do business in order to stay competitive. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will be a great equalizer in this respect. He cited that the Philippines has been the preferred site of some companies for “clinical trials” for technologically innovative products and services. And the experiences from such endeavors could be very helpful in the country’s drive towards Industry 4.0.
Looking into the advantages of Industry 4.0, it is also worthwhile to identify its challenges and opportunities. Among the opportunities presented is its potential to raise global income levels and improve quality of life. Technological innovation will lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. Alternatively, this could yield to a greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labor markets as a result of displacement of workers by machines. But looking on its positive side, as automation substitutes for labor, this could lead to a creation and net increase of safe and rewarding jobs.
Expertise on Industry 4.0
The 2nd presentation dealt more on the applications of Industry 4.0 in an actual company setting which was handled by Mr. Glenn Everett, General Manager, Continental Temic Electronic (Philippines) Inc. Mr. Everett shared their good practices on Industry 4.0 wherein their core strategy is to adhere to their company’s Ethical Code and Vision to be the most competitive electromechanical plant while applying technology and productivity, and being smarter and better in everything they do. It is basically about continuous improvement. He emphasized that Continental Temic takes only the highest standards across the world and always seeks the highest quality awards. The company is committed to building an environment of sustainable development and aims to have a holistic support of business, as business creates value. He showed a video of their company to enable the participants to see how it applies Industry 4.0 which involves, among others, cobots (collaborative robots) that are designed to interact with humans in a work process, and other AI-machines which continuously learn from interaction with humans.
Mr. Everett further stated that the growth in technology has greatly impacted productivity, and Industie 4.0 is a continuous progression of technology; they are better tools that should be applied and used. Technology is a fact of life and it can’t be ignored. In a business environment, there is always a competition and there is always a need to adapt to the technology. To drive forward in a competitive way, there is a need to have a strategy, to innovate, have a plan and be able to do it to achieve long term sustainable development.
The questions and comments on the presentations revolved around the downside of technology, its advantages and disadvantages, and how the companies and people should prepare for it. Both Mr. Sreenivas and Mr. Everett emphasized again that technology will come and totally change the way we do things, be it in manufacturing or our day-to-day lives. The key strategy towards Industry 4.0 is to prepare the minds of the young people as responsibility is the key to the cyber-physical world. The challenge is to adapt to the changing technology and be part of the transformation. And in this perspective, education and the socio-civic society will play a big role; not only in equipping the people with the technical skills necessary but also with the soft skills (e.g. creativity, innovation, leadership, openness) needed in a technology-enabled environment.
Over-all, the Alumni Sustainability Talk provided for a great forum for Germany-Alumni to be abreast, gain knowledge, and discuss matters concerning global developments such as Industry 4.0. And everybody felt that the quotation from Charles Darwin used by Mr. Everett in his presentation best sums up how to face the potential impact of Industry 4.0:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”