The adoption of robotic technology and automation has become a popular global trend and had a strong effect on the national economy, especially in business development.
The application of robotics and intelligent automation in production can help free up the labour force and improve productivity, which is something scientists and managers are now fully aware of. Businesses themselves are putting forward a great demand for robots, particularly industrial robots.
Domestic businesses, nevertheless, are facing big challenges between demands and the applicability of robotic and mechatronic technologies in the production process. To deal with these challenges will require the joint efforts of scientists and technology experts.
Huge demand but limited potential
At a recent seminar on “robotic and mechatronic technology in the fourth industrial revolution: demand and solutions for Vietnamese firms”, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Cao Quoc Hung described Robotics-Mechatronics as one of the pillars of the fourth industrial revolution as smart factories and businesses emerge, which are comprehensively automated, along with the applications used as every day solutions.
According to an investigation and the results of research by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) on businesses’ readiness for the Industrial Revolution 4.0, the number of Vietnamese businesses which see the importance of investing in and applying new technologies remains modest, especially when it comes to core technologies of industry 4.0.
Despite having big demands, they have not accessed sufficient sources or strategic orientations to invest in the process. More than 97% of domestic businesses operate on a micro scale, or are small and medium-sized enterprises.
This results in a number of difficulties when seeking investment capital, scientific and technological expertise, and human resources in the context of their too low innovation capacity and limited and ineffective connections to scientific and technological organizations.
Forging stronger connections
According to expert opinion, fostering foreign scientists’ links with domestic universities and scientific institutes will be a practical solution to further stimulate the development of robotic and mechatronic technology in diverse fields in Vietnam.
Ho Anh Van from the Materials Science Faculty under the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) underlined the multi-purpose application of robotic technology across various areas, not only in industrial production but also in agriculture (fruit picking and plant tending) and health care (surgery and elderly care). Compared to the potential uses of intelligent robotics, the adoption of robots in Vietnam is quite limited.
JAIST is partnering with Vietnamese researchers to pilot the manufacture of new technological products in the hope that this new technology can be applied more widely in the country in the coming time, said Mr Anh Van.
He added that to popularize the application of advanced technology, such as robotics, in social life demands the concerted efforts of many agencies, organizations and individuals. This will need the methodical development of networks of connection between domestic and foreign scientists as well as between State agencies, businesses and scientists.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Quoc Hung underlined the need for State agencies, businesses, universities and scientists to work out specific and practical projects to form linkage networks in robotics and mechatronics in order to promote the strong development of the Vietnam Innovation Network and encourage good values.
The MoIT will work together with the Vietnam Innovation Network through support mechanisms and policies so as to attract scientists, international experts and overseas Vietnamese experts, who serve as the core force to accelerate technological research, development and transfer, he added.