Market Insight

SEMICON Southeast Asia 2017: Digital transformation and disruptive technology

June 20, 2017


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The SEMICON Southeast Asia 2017 (SEMICON SEA 2017) is the annual regional event for electronics innovations. Held in Penang, Malaysia 25–27 April 2017, it attracted more than 7,500 visitors. The event brought together solution providers and international industry professionals to discuss the key trends and solutions that are shaping the semiconductor and electronics industry. The conference also championed regional collaboration between key decision makers, buyers and engineers in the microelectronics industry from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Key takeaways from the event were:

  • Advanced manufacturing is helping to drive electronics technology and digital transformation.
  • Cost and productivity improvement remain the key focus for end-users in Southeast Asia
  • The industrial IOT is being pushed by machine builders rather than their customers. 
  • Security and psychology barriers to adopting the digital transformation need to be overcome. 

Industrial automation market in the semiconductor machinery sector
Manufacturing processes in electronics and semiconductor assembly are getting more complex and there is continuous pressure to reduce costs, which leads to the demand for better yields. In this event, equipment suppliers and solution providers showcased and discussed the topic of advanced manufacturing technologies such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI), smart equipment, and industrial IoT solutions to address these challenges. This shows that the concept of Smart Manufacturing is no longer just hype but is already a part of available solutions. Suppliers are introducing innovative products to address the need for new ways of data management and analysis. With a comprehensive approach in integrated design and complexity, the movement is driving manufacturing and test processes. A supplier of vision inspection equipment, Vitrox, displayed an integrated solution for the surface-mount technology (SMT) process — EtherCAT-connected equipment with V-ONE software.

In contrast, most machinery sold today comes as standard with connected functionalities (IoT-ready). That being said, customers are not connecting it or making it part of their internal network because of concerns over security. With a large-scalee cyberattack (the WannaCry virus) taking place recently, more and more customers are wary about opening up their networks to machine builders. However, from point of view of end-users, the main theme in this year’s show was the focus on cost-cutting, production efficiency, downtime reduction, product customization, and lower development costs. Reflecting the market landscape, the industrial automation market is poised to have relatively slow growth. IHS Markit projects the industrial automation market in the global semiconductor machinery sector will continue to expand slightly by 2.8% in 2017, following a modest growth of 2.1 % in 2016.

Barriers to IIoT adoption in Southeast Asia
During the conference there were concerns raised about the security risks of placing manufacturing data in the cloud or sharing data with equipment vendors or partners. Many organizations in Southeast Asia still have a hybrid approach to adopting IoT capabilities. For example, most companies are placing only selected data in the cloud for data sharing and processing, because of the concern of data leakage if security is compromised. During one of the panel discussions, industrial IoT experts from Intel, Amkor, and GlobalFoundries shared their views on how organizations can overcome concerns over security by making use of the security services that is offered by cloud providers. They also shared their view that how in recent times key decision-makers in the industry have realized the benefits of IoT adoption and are becoming more open to the idea of collaboration and partnership to reap these benefits. Though security is the biggest concern of manufacturers before they move to cloud, the infrastructure cost of migration (especially in this part of Asia) could also slow IoT adoption. Local manufacturers are slowly but surely starting to make the digital transformation by enabling parts of their processes to move to the cloud. IHS Markit forecast IoT unit device shipments for the industrial electronics market to grow the fastest globally on an average of 28.2% to the year 2025.

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