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INNOVATION

ENTREPRENEUR AIMS TO MAKE THAILAND HUB FOR ROBOT MANUFACTURE

CT Asia chief also sets sights on biotechnology



Motivated by the desire to develop local technology that would enhance the country's global competitiveness, Chalermpol Punnotok, CEO of CT Asia and CT Asia Robotic, aims to take strides that would support the domestic and international markets.

"When I graduated, I planned to be a businessman who would contribute to industry. I wanted to focus on three industries - software, automation and biotechnology - so as build the country's competitiveness," he said.

After getting a master's degree in the US, he started to work with GE. He took charge of their call-centre project for about a year before returning to Thailand to set up his own company called CT Asia. Chalermpol set out with the aim of developing and providing call centres to support domestic and international companies such as KFC, SCG, Toyota and MK seven years ago.

"I have a clear blueprint for my life. We are utilising our two main strong points - innovation and speed in developing new products, services and robots - to support the market demand," said Chalermpol.

For call-centre software, the firm has been successful in developing and providing solutions to Japanese companies. It set up a company in Japan named JP-CT Asia three years ago.

He said the firm provides call-centre software and solutions to customers in Vietnam, China, Europe, Japan and US, in five languages - Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, English and Thai.

"We have call-centre software that is easy to use and can be customised to support the needs of individual customers. We will also provide call-centre applications on cloud computing to support small and medium enterprises (SME) in the near future. Our call centre will become a one-stop service information centre," said Chalermpol.

Chalermpol added that his company's success is not confined to call-centre software and solutions. Three years ago, his company was successful in developing a robot named Dinsow, made in Thailand to promote local development. The first version of Dinsow served as a robotic waiter. The firm received orders from MK restaurants to develop 10 robots. The robots will be developed to take orders and deliver food to customers' tables at MK restaurants.

"I set up a robot team to develop the first humanoid robot five years ago. I deployed the student team that won the Robotic and Innovation contest in Thailand. To support them and encourage them to innovate for our country and for the international market, I started to tap the winning students to participate in the development of the robot code named Dinsow. We were successful in developing the first humanoid robot in Thailand three years ago," said the CEO.

He said that after the robot team's success in developing the first humanoid robot, the firm developed Dinsow2 to assist older people take care of their health as well as serve as a nursing assistant.

The robotic team was successful in developing Dinsow2 as the next generation of robots for use in nursing homes and hospitals. The Dinsow2, developed from the original version launched a couple of years ago, can respond to various commands, including voice, QR codes and sign language and can also communicate via a mobile handset. The new design also allows the robot to move its arms freely and naturally, quite similar to humans. The Dinsow2 can transmit medical sensor data such as heart rate and blood pressure to a hospital for diagnosis.

With the new business plan for Dinsow2, the firm is not only providing robotics as a unit to hospital and end customers but it also has plans to provide its Dinsow robot as a services model.

"I want Thailand to become the manufacturing base for robots for commercial use to support the Japanese and global markets. Thai developers have the potential, creativity and imagination to develop robots that can support the needs of the world market. The firm plans to invest about Bt50 million for development of service robots," said Chalermpol.

The firm will start to pilot and distribute Dinsow2 robotic to Kluay Nam Thai Hospital in the second half of this year and will supply the Japanese market next year. The firm is also targeting delivery of about 100 robots to the Japanese market by the end of next year as the number of the elderly people there is rising while there is a shortage of nursing assistants. Japan has at least 30 million old people, three times more than in Thailand.

The Japan Robotics Association and ABI Research reported that the number of service robots are worth some Bt133 billion for security help to rescue people with disabilities besides entertainment and advertising. In the next 16 years, the value will increase to Bt2.2 trillion.

"So far, I have been successful in the IT industry and am entering the automatic industry through robotics. I still have dreams of studying biotechnology and entering the biotechnology industry," said Chalermpol.


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