Malaysia 2019 | ENERGY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Datuk Mark Rozario, CEO of General Electric Malaysia, on improving the aviation industry, Malaysia's future energy mix, and Industry 4.0.

Could you elaborate on the importance of your Center of Excellence in Subang on the aviation industry and on the recently announced expansion plans?

GE has embarked on expanding its aviation business in Malaysia in the past year. In September 2018, GE's former chairman came from Boston to meet with the Prime Minister and announced that we would expand the footprint of our aviation business. We have a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility near Subang Airport that provides overhaul services for the CFM56 engines for narrow-body jets. We service around 40 airlines from this facility, making it a global business. GE is investing USD80 million in expansion plans for tooling, testing, and skills capabilities to support the MRO of CFM LEAP engines, the latest and most efficient jet engines in the market. The CFM LEAP engines are used on the Boeing 737 Max and the Airbus A320neo, which are the latest narrow-body planes from these manufacturers. These narrow-bodied jets are in extremely high demand, with a backlog of more than 16,000 engines. The MRO facility in Subang will play an important role in maintaining the LEAP engines and we are extremely proud of this. Over the years, we have developed the workforce such that the entire group is Malaysian. We are highly localized and pride ourselves in the talent and skills we have built within Malaysia.

What role can GE play in fully unleashing the potential of Industry 4.0 in Malaysia?

GE is a global leader in metal additive manufacturing. Our direct metal laser metal and electron beam machines are backed by a strong portfolio of software and services. Additive manufacturing has the potential to disrupt industries. Super users of additive manufacturing right now are the aviation and healthcare sectors, where additive is already providing manufacturers an increased level of choice, flexibility and design freedom to create products and parts that have never been seen before. One of the reasons our LEAP engines are so efficient is because we have invested in additive manufacturing and our teams are already designing engines that incorporate additive from the start. The National Industry 4.0 Policy Framework also focuses on additive manufacturing, so I am excited to see how GE can contribute to the outlined development goals in the strategy. GE is also active in big data and AI. We have remote monitoring and diagnostic centers for the oil and gas and power industries. There are currently about 1,500 assets, both GE's and our customers', connected to our centers in Kuala Lumpur. These include power turbines and chemical plants, and within these are embedded sensors that send billions of data bits to the center. Using AI, we analyze this information via digital twins that can monitor exactly what is happening in a given asset. We can pinpoint potential issues via these centers and are able to offer massive savings for our customers.

How do you see GE's role in powering the future of Malaysia?

Our role here is truly in power generation. In Malaysia, 40% of the power generated uses GE equipment. We are active across the board, including gas-powered turbines, steam-powered turbines, hydro, solar, and wind, and can help increase the efficiency of power generation in the nation. We have several ongoing projects that will utilize our latest gas-powered turbines. In Johor, we manufactured a 1,440MW gas-powered station for Tenaga Nasional, and we are utilizing two of our latest 9HA gas turbines, which are the most efficient gas turbines in the market right now. As efficiency increases, the cost of electricity falls.

What are the most important requirements for Malaysia to maintain and further enhance its international competitiveness?

The government has the right idea in pursuing its Industry 4.0 strategy. It needs to move fast, though. There is a great deal of talent here, and thanks to the policies of the new government, there is also growing interest within the global talent pool of Malaysians to return to the country.