In the last few years, Thailand has made great strides towards Industry 4.0, aiming to become an Asian digital behemoth, according to the country’s Ministry of foreign Affairs. For this reason, the Thai government authorized $15 billion for industries in order to develop domestic economy. This strategic initiative, known as Thailand 4.0, focuses on manufacturing systems’ digitization by integrating novel technologies and systems such as smart machines, robotics and artificial intelligence methodologies. COVID-19 crisis has also strengthened this initiative, since lockdowns in many countries forced industries to utilize robots in their manufacturing process in order to minimize financial loss. In addition, funding has been directed to research and development of automation and robotics (A&R) technology with the aim of specializing a large portion of engineering graduates in this discipline. Some recent robotic systems developed by Thai Universities include:
- Raibo-X: Students from the King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang designed Raibo-X, a robot that can map out a room and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with COVID-19 or other viruses, by using UVC light. Such a robot can be placed in an industrial warehouse and neutralize aerosolized forms of the coronavirus.
- AutoVacc: Chulalongkorn University researchers developed a robotic arm that can boost the number of vaccine doses in order to increase the pace of vaccinations. The robotic system can draw 12 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in four minutes from a vial. As Juthamas Ratanavaraporn, the lead researcher of the team said:” The machine guarantees with accuracy that we can gain an extra 20% from each vaccine vial – from 10 to 12 doses”. This extra 20% means that if we have AstraZeneca vaccines for 1 million people, this robot can increase the number of doses to 1.2 million people.
It is obvious that A&R can be widely used in various industrial applications, achieving high operational efficiency and increased productivity. For this reason, all industrial producers must implement advanced robotics as part of a comprehensive digital transformation of their operations.