Like other parts of the Middle East region, Oman’s manufacturing landscape is seeing rapid transformations.
New technologies, like artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things and robotics are ushering in a fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
A revolution that is all about smart factories, flexible supply chains and seamless distribution models.
Considered by many to be the biggest shift to hit Omani manufacturing since automation, Industry 4.0 is the topic of discussion for the first Inside Stories session of 2019, scheduled to be held 7:30pm, Tuesday 26 February at the Public Authority for Civil Aviation Training Centre in Al Hail North.
“What we do know is that some of Oman’s biggest players in the manufacturing sector are already making changes and putting money into embracing Industry 4.0,” explained Mrs. Sajda Al Ghaithy, Ithraa’s Acting Director General for Marketing & Media and organizer of the popular quarterly Inside Stories initiative.
Moderated by HH Sayyid Dr. Adham Al Said, Founder & CEO, The Firm, panelists for the 26 February event include: Hilal Al Busaidi, CEO, Gulf Energy; S. Gopalan, CEO, Reem Batteries; Dr. Abdullah Al Mahruki, CEO, The Industrial Innovation Centre; and Dr. Nadiya Al Saady, Executive Director, Oman Animal, Plant & Genetic Resources Centre.
Many in Oman’s manufacturing sector agree that in order to stay sustainable, local businesses must rapidly adapt to the new Industry 4.0 business paradigm, assessing its risks and predicting its likely effect on jobs, skills, recruitment, training, products, investment and exports.
Al Ghaithy said: “Industry 4.0 technologies enable local manufacturers to track in real time capital assets, processes, resources and products.
“This gives firms full visibility, which streamlines business processes and optimizes supply and demand.
“When implemented correctly, local manufacturers will be equipped with more and better information, automated processes and the ability to intervene on a predictive or preventive basis to avoid downtime or any other issues that might impact production output.”
“However, from our meetings with local businesses, we’ve discovered that many Omani manufacturers aren’t sure where to get started with Industry 4.0. There’s clearly an urgency to do something, but companies aren’t sure what that something is,” commented Al Ghaithy.
If Omani manufacturers are to compete at the global level, technological advances will have to be embraced. Indeed, many experts expect new technologies to reduce the amount of time and effort Omani SMEs spend on paperwork, supervision and manual operations, leaving them in a position to concentrate on running production and controlling the supply chain.
As a result, productivity levels will rise as will profits and revenue. Boosting productivity will allow Omani firms to take on higher work levels, secure more contracts and expand - creating more sustainable jobs.
Adds Al Ghaithy: “It’s these new efficiencies that will ensure the long-term survival of local SME manufacturers, but if they stand still for too long, they will be overtaken by businesses who have committed to the change and evolved to the next level.
“Frankly, those who are not thinking ahead to what’s next risk falling dangerously behind, or worse, becoming obsolete. Like it or not, Oman’s manufacturing and export landscape is changing. Everything changes; it always has, and it always will.”
However, Industry 4.0 is not just about disrupting old manufacturing and export models but also about creating exciting, new career opportunities for Omani millennials – at a time when local manufacturing has never been more exciting and dynamic, though the public believes the opposite.
A frequently cited 2016 Kronos survey found that only 37% of respondents would encourage their children to pursue a career in manufacturing due to a perceived lack of high-pay jobs and advancement opportunities.
“In reality, Industry 4.0 is transforming Omani manufacturing and the sector is gaining higher-paying jobs with exciting career opportunities, a message we will be delivering at Inside Stories,” explained Ithraa’s Acting Director General.