SEA’s First Metal Bending, Cutting Robot Impresses Johor Investment Head

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Jimmy Puah planting a tree at the 800-seat amphitheatre in Frontier' iconic Central Park

Jimmy Puah checks it out at HFBE’s US$15M plant in Frontier Industrial Park

South-east Asia’s first robot for material handling, inventory management, metal bending and metal cutting became the highlight of a visit by State International Trade, Investment and Utility Committee Chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse to a foreign-owned factory in Frontier Industrial Park here.

Puah had stopped by Hup Fatt Brothers Engineering Sdn Bhd (HFBE) during his working visit to Frontier, a pioneer in the Gated, Guarded and Regulated (GGR) concept in Desa Cemerlang developed by WB Land Sdn Bhd.

HFBE Managing Director Tan Yong Peng briefed Puah about his company’s good experience in building the new US$15 million factory from scratch under WB Land’s “Build-To-Suit” concept where the end-to-end design, submission, construction and approval process was entirely handled by the developer. “WB Land has delivered our factories not only to our specifications but they have made our buildings more reliable and future-ready,” said Tan.

Tan mentioned that it included US$5 million in equipment and machinery including this region’s first robot that provides automated material handling, inventory management, metal bending and metal cutting.

Puah was later impressed by the robot which could cut and bend metal sheets to exact dimensions as required by the company’s multinational clients in electronics and semi-conductors.

The robotic system is so advanced and “intelligent” that it could even change the cutting or bending tools by itself in a fraction of the time it would take to be done manually and with greater accuracy.

The entire system is also monitored real-time by its Japanese manufacturers through the high-speed broadband service provided by Frontier in collaboration with Redtone. “This seamless transfer of data could not have been possible at our previous factory,” said Tan and added that all HGBE products were for the export market and with their new robot, they were able to complete many production processes more accurately and in a quicker time.

Speaking to reporters later, Puah said expressed hope the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority would offer more incentives to investors who introduce automation, in order to reduce the dependency on foreign workers.

Frontier has also been the first to have provided a 2-acre Central Park at the most prime area of Frontier complete with an 800-seat amphitheatre. Puah said that “industrial parks should not only provide a conducive working environment and accommodation for the workers but also good recreational facilities.”

Puah said that Singaporean investors under the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), also expressed keen interest to move their operations and production to Johor while maintaining their offices in the island republic.

”We in Johor don’t want to compete with them but to complement them,” he said, pointing out that Singaporean factories’ expansion to Johor would benefit over 300,000 Johoreans who now commute daily to the island republic for work.

“If we don’t do anything now, the investors will go to Batam in Indonesia and we won’t get any benefit,” he said, adding that the state’s three ports – Johor Port, Tanjung Langsat Port and the Port of Tanjung Pelepas gave it an added advantage.