Interview: Markus Lorenzini

What role can multinational companies play in developing innovative industries in line with the government’s Thailand 4.0 initiative?

MARKUS LORENZINI: Thailand’s government has approved a 20-year digitalisation plan consisting of six focal points: hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure, digital economic acceleration, service infrastructure, digital society and a digital workforce. The plan underlines the importance of digitalisation and the development of Thai manufacturing – which accounts for 34% of the nation’s GDP – to the country’s goal of becoming a developed economy by 2036.

Thailand is taking steps to develop the smart factories of the future, employing digital planning methods, 3D printing and lightweight robots. The idea of a shift towards smart factories is analogous to an initiative launched by the German government called Industry 4.0, which takes a pioneering approach towards increasing manufacturing productivity through the internet of things. Many companies are preparing for this next level of digitalisation by adopting high-tech and efficient solutions for their businesses.

We and other multinationals are thus able to use our expertise to support local companies to significantly increase their efficiency, productivity and flexibility in production processes. Local innovation should be supported by advanced technologies and a systematic method of implementation to help grow manufacturing and push the nation into the digital era. Moreover, it is important for companies to invest in their workforce, so that they are ready for the next level of digitalisation.

How is the private sector aiding the drive to implement energy-saving mechanisms in industry?

LORENZINI: Efforts from the private sector have increased in terms of supporting CO emissions reduction. One significant recent example is the onshore wind farm in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, the largest of its kind in South-east Asia. Indeed, these landmark wind farms are the first wind energy installations in South-east Asia and have a total combined capacity of 207 MW. Further to this goal, a recent study titled “ASEAN in a Climate of Change: Spotlight on Sustainable Energy in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam” collated the opinions of people actively involved in energy-related investments, infrastructure and policy development from both the private and public sectors in South-east Asia regarding climate policies in the region and the role of the private sector. Results revealed that while fewer than 40% of respondents expect private firms to play a primary role in mitigating climate change, it was clear that the sector is more than willing to be involved, provided the appropriate frameworks are in place and strategies are communicated effectively.

As South-east Asia integrates economically, in what fields can it best cooperate with Europe?

LORENZINI: As a result of globalisation and the strong desire of regional nations to develop, the pie has become bigger rather than smaller, and we are optimistic about the future. Official ties between Thailand and Germany, for instance, span more than 150 years, with a long history of collaboration in the fields of technology and knowledge sharing, and this relationship will strengthen even more with time. A joint declaration of intent to further cooperate on railways was signed by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Digital Infrastructure and the Ministry of Transport of Thailand.

We continue to deliver expertise and technology to drive Thailand’s sustainable growth in various fields, including products and solutions in energy, railways and manufacturing industries, among others. Together with local firms, European entities can develop large-scale projects, such as the Metropolitan Rapid Transit and Bangkok Rapid Transit systems. We envision that the two regions will continue to be active partners in sustaining economic growth.