In an era characterized by rapid technological progress and an abundance of data, innovation is the renewable force for sustainable growth and longevity. The manufacturing industry is currently being defined by the 4th Industrial Revolution, with experts already on the cusp of a 5th Industrial Revolution.
As one of the largest industrial hubs in the region, Dubai Industrial City has been a staunch supporter of companies adopting advanced manufacturing practices and technologies. The potential of 4IR technologies in addressing major global challenges including cost-efficiency, climate change and food security is huge and the benefits of the companies match the investment.
The R&D (research and development) program launched in September by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, sets out a roadmap that will not only create a futuristic knowledge-based economy, but also strengthen Dubai as a globally competitive manufacturing destination where innovation is central.
Innovation in action
Predictive data, virtual reality, smart factories, AI-driven inventory management, robotics and assembly line automation enable companies to become increasingly adaptive and responsive. Whether it’s changing customer preferences, global crises, demand uncertainties or supply chain disruptions, innovation enables manufacturers to become more agile, customer-centric and crisis-resistant.
We’re not talking fantasy either – a research collaboration between the World Economic Forum (WEF) and McKinsey called the Global Lighthouse Network (GLN) is successfully transforming 103 factories using Industry 4.0.
Nearly 60 percent of locations are in the advanced industry stage and are making remarkable progress on KPIs such as sustainability, productivity and speed to market.
An increasing number of brands in our district are leveraging advanced manufacturing technologies, an enterprise made easier with access to a fully functional industrial infrastructure and power supply. Unilever uses state-of-the-art technology and modular design for faster, shorter and highly responsive production lines that reduce lead time to market by 80 percent. M Glory Group is building an electric vehicle manufacturing facility with 4IR technologies and techniques, including a welding line, a painting line and a final assembly line using the latest robots, to produce up to 55,000 electric vehicles per year. Real-time examples of successful innovation are already among us. Embedding proactiveness in the future roadmap is the crux of sustainable growth.
An industry in beta
While R&D is built into Operation 300bn to increase the efficiency and sustainability of production cycles and supply chains, a more comprehensive R&D base will benefit diverse industrial subsectors, from agriculture and food production to pharmaceuticals.
From advanced medical devices to cost-effective disease prevention, detection and treatment to hydroponics that meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population, the manufacturing and manufacturing industries are directly impacted.
Dubai provides a fertile ground for companies looking to expand their manufacturing operations and global reach, reinsured by a favorable business environment, 100 percent foreign property laws and additional benefits such as attractive energy and gas tariffs as part of Operation 300 billion and Make it in the Emirates. Public-private partnerships further enrich the landscape for global manufacturers, such as our strategic agreement with Emirates Development Bank to provide innovative financing and banking solutions to SMEs.
We also worked with the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) to further strengthen the UAE’s industrial sector by enabling Industry 4.0, attracting foreign investors and facilitating decarbonization. It is as part of these efforts that we will join MoIAT at the upcoming Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit (GMIS) 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to promote Dubai’s industrial ecosystem on an international platform.
Dubai’s strategic location as a gateway to the MENASA region is a major advantage for foreign investors and companies. Our extensive transport network across land, sea, air and soon Etihad Rail is a boon to brands expanding and securing diverse export routes. Customers such as Standard Carpet, Al Baraka and Anorka export to a wide range of countries, as far as Europe and America, using advanced technology to meet the demands of their growing audience.
Historically, manufacturing and manufacturing industries have been major contributors to global greenhouse gases. As environmentally conscious consumers grow in numbers and expect transparency and accountability from brands throughout the supply chain, the pressure is on companies to take their environmental impact seriously.
By leveraging the economic and partnership opportunities catalyzed by the R&D program, companies can use technology to improve their operations and product development while doing their part to drive sustainability.
Advanced technologies are already delivering greater transparency, less waste and better decision-making. For example, Sokovo’s upcoming vertical farm will feature a retractable sunroof to maximize natural light and reduce electricity consumption, while advanced processing and sorting equipment will enable an efficient farm-to-fork delivery system. Such planning is essential to building and scaling resilient manufacturing systems that give brands a competitive advantage while reducing environmental impact.
R&D will not only secure our net-zero future, but will also implant a culture of innovation into the industry ethos. Such a workforce can now help businesses remain resilient in the future and bolster Dubai’s industrial excellence on a global scale. In a world simultaneously encouraged and threatened by rapid change, innovation is our only way forward.
Saud Abu Al Shawareb is the Executive Vice President – Industrial Leasing at TECOM