THERE is a growing demand for robotics in Thailand, as businesses are increasingly using automation to combat issues with labour shortages.
According to the Thailand Board of Investment, the country is estimated to ship 7,500 units of industrial robots by the end of this year. That is 133 percent more than the shipment number five years ago.
Particularly in automotive, electrical and electronics, and food processing industries, industrial robots allow business to improve manufacturing efficiency while retaining a competitive edge in the market.
But manufacturing is not the only use for advanced robotics. Increasingly, there is a growing demand for service robots that operate beyond just manufacturing functions.
Compared to industrial robots, which are less flexible in terms of the number of tasks it can perform; service robots are more adaptable to changes in the environment.
Given Thailand’s ambition to become the medical hub of Asia, the country sees an opportunity for service robots within the medical industry.
Thailand’s aggressive push in medical innovations and championing of international expertise goes beyond just their desire to lead Asia-Pacific in medical care. It is also coupled with the very serious issue of an aging population.
According to World Bank data, more than a quarter of the population in Thailand will be 65 years or older by 2040. The working-age population is also expected to shrink, from 49 million people to around 40.5 million people.
In preparation for the challenges an elderly population would pose on the healthcare system, Thailand has been developing healthcare robots that integrate with people’s lifestyle.
For example, Fhasai, robot-assisted therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders; Dinsow, an elderly care robot; Sensible Tab, an arm rehabilitation robot; B-Hive, a pharmacy automation system; and Bumbee, a medical dispenser robot.
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The decrease in a working population will present labour shortages in other industries as well.
In logistics, automation and robotics have enabled the growth of the intelligent warehouse, where inflow and outflow of stocks and inventories are monitored online.
According to the Office of Service Trade Promotion quoting Thai Intralogistics Providers Club, Thailand’s intelligent warehouses, are expected to grow between 3-5 percent annually.
This is compounded by the expanding e-commerce market, where distribution centres will have to rely on robotics to optimise order fulfillment, warehousing, and delivery operations.
Tourism is another industry that can benefit from robotics. The number of tourists to the country continues to increase year on year, with 2017 seeing 35.38 million visitors. Technology such as robotic concierge is expected to help ease the strain on customer services and reduce language barriers.
Overall, robotics and automation are expected to help companies improve their operations. For the country, however, the technology is much needed to help cope with the challenges that will inevitably come with population changes.
This article originally appeared on our sister site Tech Wire Asia.