By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
ABB, the world’s leading robotics and automation engineering company, said there is a huge opportunity for automation in the Philippines with the growth of the country’s manufacturing sector towards its march to industrialization.
ABB Philippines President and Managing Head Olivier Coquerel cited some domestic sectors that are ripe for automation already. These are food and beverage, electronics, automotive because of their production volume requirement and are labor intensive.
The food and beverages sector alone requires a high level of automation because of the volume production, said Coquerel. Production areas also need lots of conveyors from packaging to production where all motors are controlled by drivers. ABB can provide all the motors from production to the packing line.
“We have robotics that can do packing systems,” he said noting that ABB is a world leader in industrial robots with over 70 years of robotics development.
The electronics and semiconductors sector requires very precise operation so robotics can guarantee quality and applicability, he said. The automotive sector, which the Philippines is trying to revive this manufacturing operation, is also a natural market for ABB.
He said the Philippines has one of the lowest if not the lowest in Asia in terms of industrial robotics application. According to Coquerel, the Philippines has very little robotics even lower than Vietnam and perhaps the lowest in the region with only 200-300 robot shipments a year.
“This is because robotics is not yet in the mindset of companies to invest in robotics because they think it is expensive, but I don’t think it is expensive,” said noting that industrial robots can cost $15,000 to $60,000-$70,000.
“It is not expensive when you think of what the machine is capable of doing. It can run three shifts 24×7 and can work even if the lights are switched off,” he stressed.
“Food and beverage firms are working 24×7 on two shifts and very labor intensive so they should consider robotics because it offers lots of benefits from consistency of tasks, safety and quality at faster speed. Whatever humans do, robots can do it quicker so it makes sense,” he adds.
He cited China, which has embraced robotics and automation in their industries, for being able to produce products like cars of the same quality of the American, Germany and Swedish cars.
“Without robotics I believe countries like China would lose their advantage to be a top player if they don’t invest in robotics,” he said adding that ABB has three world-class robotics manufacturing sites in China.