January / February 2018 • Issue 1 • PANELS & FURNITURE ASIA 28 FURNITURE MANUFACTURING How robots will win over the future By Bjorn Henseler, Schuler Consulting Malaysia’s furniture industry players spent a day at ABB to understand how robotics can facilitate challenges in production. T oday, the end-consumer’s demand for customised furniture is what’s making up most of the orders. The number of furniture per order has also gone down, forcing factories to shift frommass manufacturing to producing in small batches instead. At the same time, the industry has had to deal with labour shortage, increasing costs and the need for process stability. These trends have beleaguered manufacturers all over the world; those that have not reacted quickly enough have paid dearly, driving some into bankruptcy. F o r o t h e r s , c o n c e p t s s u c h a s a u t o m a t i c Production Data generation (so-called Industry 4.0) and automated Business Processes have finally found their way onto the management’s agenda. It is a good thing, but this is only half of the story.