Director General Jen-Ni Yang,
Bureau of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs
As one of the world's major manufacturing nations, Taiwan's total machinery exports soared to a record high of US$27.4 billion in 2018. In the same year, the machine tool industry's output value grew 3.6% year-on-year to NT$1.18 trillion, making it Taiwan's third trilliondollar industry behind semiconductors and display panels. More than 50% of Taiwanese machine tool manufacturers are located in the industry cluster in Taichung, which is at the heart of the industry's success. The network of companies comprising the cluster has achieved powerful synergies in terms of specialized division of labor, flexible manufacturing, and resource sharing, and has become a key competitive advantage for Taiwan's machine tool industry. Presently, Taiwan is the world's fourth-largest machine tool exporting nation and is ranked second in shoe manufacturing equipment exports, fourth in woodworking machinery exports, and sixth in plastic/rubber manufacturing equipment and textile machinery exports.
The development of Taiwan's machine tool industry reflects the country's overall industrial capabilities, as well as its ability to meet various technical challenges such as machinery design, processing and manufacturing, automated control, information software, electromechanical interfaces and systems integration. The industry has not only played an important supporting role in the manufacturing sector, but has also made a substantial contribution to the country's national economic growth since 1940. In addition, Taiwan is an island nation in which exports have always been the lifeblood of the economy. As global industries rush to introduce systems related to Industry 4.0 trends, export customers increasingly insist that machine designs have at least a certain level of intelligence, and Taiwan's precision machine tool makers have responded over the last two years by stepping up their efforts to transition to smart machinery.
Taiwan is one of the few countries with an advantage in both industrial machinery and IT products. Consequently, the government has determined that smart machinery be among the sectors for further development. Smart machinery and IT industries will benefit from the integration of public and private resources, which will take our fundamental manufacturing technologies to the next level.
In 2016, the government followed up by launching the "5+2 Industrial Innovation Plan". The industries involved in this plan include green technology, smart machinery, aerospace, as well as new agriculture and the circular economy. This plan aims to develop smart manufacturing applications and solutions based on various smart technologies, while encouraging end users in the manufacturing industries to adopt such solutions as a means of transitioning to 'intelligent industries. The plan has helped put Taiwan's machinery industry on a strong footing for the future, and the industry is now poised to reap the rewards of a decade of strategic and technological investment.
The smart machinery policies of the Ministry of Economic Affairs are actively being implemented, and together with the benefits of industrial clusters and grants for R&D and equipment, Taiwan's machinery industry is able to create a powerful ecosystem with formidable technological capabilities, which will ultimately allow the industry to transition smoothly into the Industry 4.0 era, thereby increasing its competitiveness, and bolstering the industry's image as a major global supplier of Taiwan's machinery industry.
Industry 4.0 requires the integration of IT and OT systems, but with Taiwan's extensive experience and expertise in these two sectors, it is easier to obtain and build the relevant key components here than in virtually any other country. Moreover, the broader environment in terms of market demand, government policy, and manufacturers' expertise and openness to new ideas gives Taiwan a formidable edge in this new era. Given the integrated hardware and software, and R&D capabilities in Taiwan, we are confident that Taiwanmade machinery is ready for the new wave of the industrial revolution, and Taiwan will continue to be an intelligent partner for the global manufacturing industries.