As industry around the world starts to adopt the technology and practices that will revolutionise it, the Middle East finds itself at a crossroads – and it’s time to strike out towards information enabled systems.
Industrial infrastructures across the Middle East, such as those found in mining, manufacturing and production, haven’t changed much since the production line was invented. Of course, new types of machinery have come and gone, but there is very little IT involved in the production line, and industrial systems aren’t gleaning as many benefits from the new wave of IT as other business units are. While this doesn’t mean that the mining or oil and gas industries will become uneconomical straight away, it does mean that they are not performing as well as they might in the face of stiffening global energy competition and low oil prices. For manufacturing the situation is just as serious, it’s a case of evolve or die.
The new information enabled generation of industry that is taking hold around the world has various guises depending on where you are. To some it is “Smart Manufacturing”, to others “Industry 4.0” – a reference to the ‘fourth’ great industrial revolution. To most it’s still a concept that is based on the potential of the so-called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The sheer weight of jargon around the concept speaks volumes in itself – every economy around the world with industrial capability is desperate to make the most of what’s happening.
While the last 30 years has seen the technological revolution and age of the internet grab hold of the banking sector, the services sector and the consumer sector, in many ways it has had only a small impact on the way that industry goes about its business. But time waits for no one, and the levels of connectivity and data potential from the Internet of Things (IoT) is starting to be applied in industry with revolutionary effect.
And it’s not a moment too soon. With the rapid growth of the world’s consumers, industrial output must grow very quickly in the coming years to supply the energy, infrastructure and goods to match demand. What hasn’t changed is the finite raw material and resource available to sustain this growth – industry must become smarter and more efficient too, and the Middle East has a huge role to play.
To the point in question – how can we make the Middle East ready for this new environment?
The answer, or a large portion of it at least, is to invest in more information enabled industry – to move to the ‘Connected Enterprise’ culture that will enable the benefits of IIoT. Rockwell Automation has been working with its partners and customers throughout industry and throughout the world for many years to find and develop the best practices for linking the information flow between an enterprise’s information technology (IT) and its operational technology (OT). This connectivity is the basis for all of the initiatives around IIoT. As industrial equipment, controls and processes at all levels of industry increasingly offer real-time data via the internet, collating and using that data to advantage is becoming the key differentiator for industry. Those enterprises who are best able to analyse data and turn it into information that can drive best practices for efficiency, safety, maintenance (and associated uptime), and profitability are the ones that will drive their economies forwards in the new age of industry.
The Middle East is ideally placed to take advantage of Connected Enterprise approaches. While reducing the cost of production for its staple oil and gas industry, it must also look further into the future by diversifying economies – an approach being led by the UAE. As globalisation makes the world smaller, and as the growth in the world’s consumers continues to be driven by China, the Middle East is actually ideally positioned, with mature infrastructure and natural resources ready to take its place at the front of the next industrial revolution.
The Middle East finds itself at a crossroads – and it’s time to strike out.
Find out more about how Rockwell Automation is enabling Connected Enterprises here.