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Interview with KUKA Robot Automation (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

Alan Fam brings a wealth of experience to his role as Chief Regional Officer at KUKA Robotics APeC, with a career spanning over 22 years across various esteemed organizations. Beginning at Bridgestone in Japan, Alan honed his skills and gained valuable international exposure before transitioning to Atlas Copco. There, he held pivotal roles including Global Business Manager (Electronics Segment) in China and SEA Regional Business Manager in Thailand. Alan’s exceptional leadership was further showcased during his tenure at DESTACO, where he served as Regional Sales & Service Director, driving operational excellence and client satisfaction.

Throughout his career, Alan’s strategic vision and innovation approach have been instrumental in propelling growth and fostering partnerships across the APeC region. From Australia to Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Pakistan, Alan’s commitment to excellence and passion for driving transformative change continue to shape the trajectory of KUKA Robotics in one of the world’s most dynamic markets.

1. Congratulations on the KUKA Malaysia Grand Opening. Can you provide an overview of KUKA Robotics’ history what is KUKA’s vision for the future of robotics in Malaysia?

Kuka Robot Automation is a company originating from Germany. We have been in the industry for more than 125 years. Last year was our 125th anniversary and approximately 50 years ago, we created one of the world’s first industrial robots. We also created one of the world’s first collaboration robots around 10 to 12 years ago. We have been in the industry for quite a long time. This is our 25th anniversary here in Malaysia.

We have been here since 1999. We started as a small office in Malaysia and became a regional office in 2011. It’s been around 10 years roughly. We want to be a clear choice for smart automation and have that vision statement meaning that we cannot be a niche player. We want it to be clear to us for smart automation, and we will be a volume player by offering customers products and software services. This means pre-sale service, and how to select the simulation of the right robot after-sales service, warranty repair, and sometimes some part of commissioning to the end of customer site.

2. What are some key industries in Malaysia that benefit most from KUKA’s robotics solutions?

KUKA has been involved in multiple industries in Malaysia. Globally, we are very active in automotive. We are involved with customers in Germany, such as BMW, Volkswagens, Mercedes Benz, Audi, Tesla and so on. We are allowing automotive industries in every business. We are also involved in electronics in Asia and Samsung is our key customer. In Europe, Bosch or other semiconductors also use KUKA as we are also involved in general industry, which we call palletizing.

Instead of using humans now, we use robots to help the customers put on pallets and they will ship them to places. We also work with multiple official system partners. So, it’s all the core system integrators. For us, we are a standard component company of the automation process. We are part of the whole solution. The system integrator usually will bundle all these components into one solution for the end customers.

Last year, we got out of the top five best vendor awards for Proton content. Electronics customers like to use a lot of robotics as well and we support those key customers in Malaysia. We are also involved these days in the education sector as we want to supply our robots to some universities and vocational schools so that they can teach their students.

3. In your opinion, what unique challenges or opportunities does the Malaysian market present for robotics adoption?

I wouldn’t say challenges as I see a lot of opportunities for the Malaysian market. Number one is due to decoupling. The US-China trade war presented Malaysia as a market that is not only protected but still produces a lot in China. No question about that. There is also a lot of de-risking from end-user customers from us and also European customers. They want to make the products in Malaysia not knowing the Malaysia region. There are a lot of good initiatives as we see a lot of investment from overseas. We have a lot of foreign direct investments set up in the Southeast

Asia hub in Malaysia.

We see investments from Infineon and Bosch and some of them are coming back to Malaysia to invest in data centers as well. All those key sector industries require automation and a lot of times robotics. It’s a lot of opportunities, not just the US-China trade war. The low value of Malaysia these days compared to other currencies makes the investment much more attractive for foreign direct investment even for Singapore as well. That is a good thing for Malaysia as we have a lot of good talent pool in engineering that can speak multiple languages. This is the multilingual ability of Malaysians that can support the growth of the industry.

4. How does KUKA ensure that its robotics solutions are adapted to meet the specific needs of

the customers?

We pride ourselves these days on having a huge wide spectrum of portfolios. In the past 50 years ago, KUKA came from the automotive industry in Germany. As time goes on, we are now in electronics and general industry, even in Nestle. The machine maker is based in Malaysia. KUKA has a wide variety of products in the auto industry. We go from a very small payload robot to very high pillar robots. Besides the six-axis robot that we have, we also have autonomous mobile robotics.

These days, we offer collaborative robots as well. As I mentioned what KUKA offers is hardware, software, and services. That’s how we go about it. At the beginning of our conversation, I mentioned that we’re responsible for these officers for this region, Asia Pacific, excluding China. We meet the needs of the customer by number one, the huge and wide variety of products that we offer in the market.

Number two is the services. That’s part of the solution we need to ensure the customer is choosing the right product for his application. After choosing, selecting, and configuring the right application, we need to make sure that it is being serviced and installed properly. Sometimes the customer will want Wi-Fi extension and modernization, so some customization in every product is different. Last but not least is education. Education to our people, and also to the customers. We train our customers to calm down. We educate them and we share our space with them, so they know how to use the robot in the best way.

5. How does KUKA prioritize sustainability and responsible manufacturing in its robotics solutions?

We believe at the core that when we are not a niche player, we are a difference maker in the industry for automation. Customers can enjoy sustainability and sustainable benefits, by using robotic arms of our services. And how does it work? In that sense, we believe in going towards this vision statement. Our mission is to make sure our customers have an easier and safer work life.

Imagine an operator placing the screws one by one for monitoring every day versus pushing a button to automate. Imagine carrying big boxes and pallets here every day compared to pressing an automated button. If you use robots, it’s safe. During COVID time our business has been great as the customers wanted to ensure social distancing and they need a robot to make sure production continues. In that sense, there were a lot of robots being utilized in the market to ensure safety for the customer.

Another sustainability impact will be to start the services. Such as making sure the customers are using the right product in the right way. Because when you automate and use robotic arms, you can collect data. You have some data to rely on instead of just using metal. The data also can support the sustainability requirements of the customers.

One of the things that we are also trying to greater sustainability is reducing, reusing, and recycling. Recycling is also one key element that we are trying to formulate in some countries. We are considering right now what to do with it, whether to offer the market reused robots or use robots. I believe that they can save customers costs and also ensure some sustainable elements.


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