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Govt pushes for automation, smart manufacturing
Published on: Wednesday, December 04, 2019
By: Hayati Dzulkifli
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Govt pushes for automation, smart manufacturing
Peter (third left) witnessing the exchange of the MoU between Dr Zulkifli (second left) and Dr Allan (third right) while others look on.
Kota Kinabalu: The State Government is embracing Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) by aggressively promoting automation and smart manufacturing in the downstream activities of oil palm industries, wood-based industry and furniture.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the adoption of IR 4.0 in downstream activities will further increase value-added products with less cost, making the products more competitive.

Digitising the palm oil sector, Shafie said is one of the good examples to prove that Sabah is starting to embrace IR 4.0 where a new applications launched by LintraMax (M) Sdn Bhd, QuartoConnect, has been adopted by oil palm planters to streamline work processes at their plantations.

“The application, which runs on mobile devices, functions as a tool for planters to digitally record data of activities on the field and have them stored in a cloud-based system. “This makes it easier for managers at the main office to access field data quickly and at any time. Moreover, with QuartoConnect, planters no longer need to rely on paper-based log books or other manual methods. “Half of the clientele in Malaysia comes from East Malaysia. Approximately 45 per cent of the domestic clients are in Sabah and Sarawak. A total of 154 estates and 25 palm oil mills in Sabah and Sarawak use LintraMax system to manage their operations,” he said.

Shafie said this in his speech when officiating the second Wood and Biofibre International Conference 2019 (WOBIC2019) themed “Wood and Biofibre Innovation Toward IR 4.0: From Forests to Shelves”, here on Tuesday.

Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony delivered Shafie’s speech.

About 200 participants from 13 countries are participating in the conference organised by Institute of Tropical Forestry and Forest Products (INTROP) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

WOBIC seeks to bring together industry and academia to discuss the latest development in wood and biofibre, from upstream agricultural-related topic to downstream fibre processing and product advancement as well as the socio-economic impact of these commodities.

Shafie said Sabah having abundant natural resources and welcomes more investments to realise the vision of Sabah’s wood and wood-based industry. To boost further growth in this industry, he said Sandakan was announced as the State’s furniture centre. “In 2018, 466 projects amounted to RM5.36 billion were approved in Sabah. This exhibited the activeness of Sabahans in developing the furniture industry. “Besides, Malaysia is also granted a great variety of biofibres sources that is beneficial to wide range of products such as oil palm empty fruit bunches, trunk and frond, pineapple leaves, coconut husk and kenaf. “Among the three regions of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, Sabah has the biggest biomass potential and these can open up more investments to realise the future vision of Sabah’s wood and wood-based industry,” Shafie said.

Apart from the natural forest, he said Sabah also has a vast area of forest plantation whereby since 2012, Sabah has established about 226,000 ha of forest plantations of which about 55 per cent are cultivated with high-value commercial species.

He said these forest plantations are able to produce about 1.3 million cubic metre of timber annually.

“In 2017, the species produced including Acacia (66pc), Albizia falcataria (16pc), rubber (11pc), teak (4pc) and others (3pc). “At the same time, there is some other species that has been planted at the same year, including rubber (180,498ha or 56pc), Acacia mangium (53,796ha or 17pc), Eucalyptus grandis (18,870ha or 6pc), Albizia falcataria (13,902ha or 4pc), Eucalyptus pellita (16,184ha or 5pc) and others (27,594ha or 12pc). “These forests, which are rich in timber contribute greatly to the Malaysian economy, especially in Sabah through logging and manufacturing sectors of the wood-based industry include logs, sawn timber, plywood, veneer, particleboard, fibreboard, wooden furniture and rattan furniture as well. “In 2018, exportation of major timber products achieved a revenue of RM22,289,780,265 (RM22.3 billion) for Malaysia and from this amount, Sabah contributed 6.72 per cent or  RM1,497,961,788 (RM1.5 billion),” he said.

Shafie said the industry structure in Sabah is dominated by plywood, pulp and paper and sawmilling factories where 69 per cent of the log input were utilised by these factories.

“Plywood mills is the most dominant wood-based industries among these. In 2017, 65 per cent of the log input went into plywood/veneer mills compared to only four per cent that went into pulp and paper.”

He strongly believes that through research, development and innovation, better products can be developed and marketed globally which will help in increasing the State’s export earnings.

An the same event, Peter represented Shafie to witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UPM and the internationally-renowned French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD).

UPM was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Prof. Dr Zulkifli Idrus and INTROP Director, UPM Prof Dr Ahmad Ainuddin Nuruddin to sign the document while CIRAD Regional Director for South East Asia and Focal Point for Oil Palm Research Prof Dr Allan Rival and its Senior Scientist Dr Jean March Roda signed the MoU.

The UPM-CIRAD objectives in the MoU are:-

To spearhead and further develop new approaches for sustainable bioresource management;

To generate, acquire and further develop new technologies aimed at enhancing the performance of biocomposite products;

 To become a world-class centre for research and development and database in Tropical Forestry and Forest Products and related activities both locally and internationally, and  To establish sustainable linkages and smart partnerships between universities, research institutions and forestry sector in order to accelerate the use of research outputs for further commercial exploitation.

Peter  also launched a book entitled ‘Lignocellulose for Future Bioeconomy’ edited by INTROP Deputy Director Assoc. Prof Dr Hidayah Ariffin, S.M Sapuan and Mohd Ali Hassan.

The book focuses on the utilisation of lignocelluloses for various products including biopolymers, bionanomaterials, and bioproducts.

Also present was WOBIC2019 Organising Chairperson Assoc. Prof Dr. Zaiton Samdin.


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