Transitioning Malaysia into a design oriented economy

Article originally from: https://www.businesstoday.com.my/


Since the National Automotive Policy 2014 was launched, a total of RM74.4 billion worth of automotive parts were exported. In 2020 alone, Malaysia recorded almost RM 13 billion in exports, a huge chunk coming from automotive parts and components. Despite it being a year marred by the backdrop of a pandemic, this figure signifies Malaysia's importance as a manufacturing hub within the automotive sector in the region.


However, as we transition into the era of connected mobility, new opportunities arise as the automotive sector expands in new sectors that change the face of transportation, to include a higher level of electrification and automation.


In the next decade or so, we will see higher global demand for electric vehicles - which when combined with technologies such as autonomous driving, create a next generation of vehicles that may look the same as cars today, but are filled with new technologies that we have not produced before.


With that said, there will be an increased demand for critical components and systems that cater specifically to next generation vehicle technology.


The National Automotive Policy 2020, which is an update of its predecessor under the custodianship of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry includes the development of critical components for Next Generation Vehicles (NxGVs).


These components include batteries, battery management systems (BMS), on-board charging, lightweight bodies, radars, LIDARs, vision sensors and cloud-based controllers, to name a few.


Alongside these, there are also many opportunities in the design and development of systems and system integrators, applications, that must meet standards and regulations that are compliant with global requirements.


When the nation's automotive industry began circa the 1980s, the main focus was the assembly and production of the various components for vehicles, be it the car itself or the components that they comprised. However, the dependence on design and specifications provided by foreign expertise kept our industry only as manufacturers, with limited control on the product designs.


It was only until the year 2000 when Malaysia could claim itself as a full-fledged designer and manufacturer of vehicles, when the Proton Waja was launched. A product of both Malaysian designers and manufacturers, it placed the nation's human capital at a higher level - and opened up new opportunities for more local talent to be part of a sector with a high premium for technological expertise.


As the world embarks on a new generation of transportation technology, seen in NxGVs, it is important to learn from history and seize new opportunities to remain at the top of the value chain through locally engineered components.


Since 2014, MARii has established many programmes and infrastructure to facilitate the development of local talent in both product and process design within the connected mobility sector, in which its applications also find themselves in many other sectors as well.


In general, product design consists of three main stages - the styling stage (where concepts and ideas are generated), the engineering stage (where components are detailed out) and validation (where function and durability are tested).


The MARii Design Center was established in 2017 to enhance design engineering and prototyping, overcoming investment barriers OEMs and vendors and ease access to design facilities through shared infrastructure. The center is equipped with a design studio, clay modelling area and engineering room to perform various design function.



To facilitate the validation process, the MARii Simulation & Analysis Center (MARSAC) was launched as a standalone facility within MARii’s headquarters in Cyberjaya, equipped with high performance workstations, powered by MARii’s existing High Performance Computing servers which enable real-time data analysis and cloud-based operations.


To facilitate the validation process, the MARii Simulation & Analysis Center (MARSAC) was launched as a standalone facility within MARii’s headquarters in Cyberjaya, equipped with high performance workstations, powered by MARii’s existing High Performance Computing servers which enable real-time data analysis and cloud-based operations.



In the future, more facilities and infrastructure that includes Industry 4.0 technologies such as Additive Manufacturing, Virtual & Augmented Reality and an Autonomous Vehicle test bed are being planned to allow local design talents to flourish.



There are currently around 700 parts and components manufacturers operating in Malaysia, with about a quarter of this need of localised design capabilities to ensure industry competitivity. MARii's one-stop design centres connects OEMS and their supply chain to collaboratively design innovative products would accelerate this learning curve, in line with the National Automotive Policy 2020.


It is therefore key that design be made an important agenda of the economy to ensure that we remain competitive and participate at higher value aspects of the entire economic chain.


Dato' Ts. Madani Sahari

Chief Executive Officer

Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii)

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