Globetronics, a leading miniaturised optical sensor manufacturer since 2012, has come a long way since its debut 30 years ago as a single-product, single-customer company. Through numerous diversification efforts, it grew from a pure integrated circuits player to producing light-emitting diodes (LED) quartz crystal timing devices, before finally moving into sensors.
This was done through prudent management of capital, visionary leadership that was able to identify upcoming trends and the support of government organisations, including the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA). Indeed, the Malaysian company gratefully acknowledges that its foray into the sensors segment in 2012 would not have been possible without MIDA; the agency’s support towards the firm in transferring new wafer-level packaging (WLP) technology was crucial in convincing their then European customer to start manufacturing operations in Malaysia. Additionally, MIDA’s provision of grants and incentives helped set up this all-important sensor line.
Today, Globetronics has grown the initial sensor line into many other parts of its top global devices, laptops and accessories. It is also one of the pioneer Malaysian companies to adopt the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) technology in their high-volume mass production operations.
The firm has planned for investment expansion of up to RM50 million towards a cloud-based state-of-the-art platform that will incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data Analytics (BDA) and Extended Reality (both Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality). This platform will help to establish an end-to-end intelligent supply chain and manufacturing system that enables higher levels of customisation, reduces cycle times and ensures superior quality traceability to deliver a diversified product portfolio to meet their customers’ dynamic needs.
This initiative maps the path for Globetronics’s “lights off” factory within the next five years – a move to build intelligence in their machines and processes that is timely, due to escalating labour costs and recruitment challenges (especially for the non-skilled segment). The company highlighted the use of autonomous robots and automation of non-value added processes will help it focus on high revenue generation activities – such as predictive and prescriptive data – to maximise machine operations.
Globetronics believes that People is a key pillar in its IR4.0 transformation, therefore focuses on workforce transformation by reimagining manufacturing and workforce training via Extended Reality that will bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds by superimposing live-streamed images with an extensive database of machine learnt data from R&D and manufacturing phases, replacing the supervisor in the line with a digital guru to ensure that every work action is executed flawlessly and to ensure that mistakes are being deliberated by the employee.
The closed-loop integration of product, process and quality data via AI will serve as a “poke yoke” guarantee of Globetronic’s quality excellence, which will be enable the technology to directly uplift lesser skilled workers whilst proportionally bringing up the minimum wage.
According to Globetronics, the recharacterising of its manufacturing processes will also be the test bed to proliferate and intensify the use of BDA across the company’s end-to-end supply chain and manufacturing system. The core of its workforce transformation is to be the front runner in Malaysia by establishing a data-driven culture and hub to attract local talent and global data scientist – a big step from its existing capabilities and a demonstration of Globetronics’ commitment to continually invest in new technologies that are critical to support the constantly evolving landscape.
In line with this, Globetronics will significantly upgrade its storage capabilities and cybersecurity systems to enable further scaling up of its operations, thereby setting the foundation for bringing in newer technologies to Malaysia. This new platform will position the company to gear up for exciting next-generation semiconductor wafer-level packaging technology such as 2.5D (where there is no stacking of dies-on-dies but they are instead flip-chipped on a silicon interposer).
Overall, this IR4.0 implementation is expected to lead to quality improvement, a reduction in defects, elimination of manual processes, and labour reduction through significant improvement in machine-manning ratios. MIDA will continue to support Globetronics in undertaking this important and strategic upgrading exercise to meet the future technological needs of the industry.