Thailand and the Rising Use of Robots in the Industrial Sector
• The aging society, factory safety, and increasing need for production efficiency and productivity are the driving force behind the increasing use of robots in many industries around the world including Thailand.
• Collaborative robots (cobots) have gained tremendous popularity across various industries in Thailand.
The use of robots in place of human workers will become more widespread around the world in both the manufacturing and service sectors when labor shortage becomes a more pressing issue in an aging society. In the case of Thailand, a report from the Department of Provincial Administration, Ministry of Interior, indicates that 1 in 5 of the population, or approximately 13 million people, are already aged 60 years and over. Accordingly, jobs with safety risks such as carriers in the logistics business or workers in the production lines will need to rely more and more on robots.
At the moment, 3,300 robots have been used in Thailand’s industrial sector which reflects the country’s advancement in the use of robots. This makes Thailand the 14th in the world and the 2nd in Southeast Asia after Singapore in terms of the largest robot users according to the World Robotics 2023 report by the International Robotics Federation. It is obvious that Thailand is leveraging robots and automation systems widely in various industries, such as in automotive, food and beverage, electronics, metalworking, medical and cosmetics, plastics and polymers, and education and science to improve efficiency and productivity while minimizing costs.
One of the emerging trends right now is the growing popularity of "collaborative robots" (Cobots) which have been designed to work with humans. An interesting example is Universal Robots, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cobots from Denmark which owns almost half of the market share and is one of the important players in Thailand. The company has encouraged EV entrepreneurs in Thailand to use cobots in the production lines to promote the growth of the electric vehicle market. Recently, the company has launched UR30, a compact cobot that can carry a weight of up to 30 kg and only requires a small installation space. It has a working radius of 1,300 mm., so it can handle workpieces for large machines, move heavy products onto pallets, and can also screw with high torque efficiently.
Meanwhile, Thai enterprises are actively developing robots for use locally and for export. For example, SCG has developed CiBot™, a robot that inspects pipes in plant reactors. This is the first time in the world that robots enable the inspection of the condition of the pipes and assess their lifespan safely, precisely, and quickly. Robots also help reduce production costs, cut down on resource loss and leave a positive impact on both the community and the environment. Currently, robots are used by many world-leading industries such as in petrochemical plants and factories with reactors like nitrogen production plants, oil refinery and ammonia production plants among others. Countries which have deployed robots on this kind of tasks are Thailand, South Korea, Middle Eastern countries, the Netherlands, and the United States.
In addition, service robots are widely used in the medical and healthcare industry. The application can be simple service tasks up to complex tasks that require high safety, such as Thailand's first nuclear medicine service robot. Another example is a collaboration between Chulalongkorn Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society and True Digital Group that results in robots that can assist in treating thyroid cancer. These robots help provide services to thyroid cancer patients with radioactive iodine while minimizing the amount of radiation that will be exposed directly to doctors and nurses during patient treatment.
The trend of industrial robots in Thailand seem to continue positively as a result of the policy issued by the Ministry of Industry that focuses on developing target industries that are the future of the country. These industries include the entire electric vehicle (EV) industry which benefits from the measures to support the use of electric vehicles Phase 2 (EV3.5), the smart electronics industry, the medical device industry, and the robotics and automation industry. These industries are all important supply chains that will accelerate the rate of robot application in Thailand’s industrial sector.
Don’t miss interesting stories about robots and automation like this in our future blogs. Also, look out for the upcoming technologies and innovations related to robots and automation at Assembly & Automation Technology 2024 – the 23rd edition of ASEAN's Most Comprehensive Exhibition on Industrial Automation Systems & Solutions and Assembly Technology which will take place during 19-22 June 2024 at BITEC, Bangkok.