Bahrain’s new initiative to build cutting-edge factories

The smart factory development is expected to be completed in 2026
Bahrain’s new initiative to build cutting-edge factories
Robots can substantially enhance the efficiency of factories

Bahrain eyes building 300 smart factories by 2026 through its newest national initiative, iFactories. According to Abdullah bin Adel Fakhro, the country’s minister of industry and commerce, the project will be in partnership with Tamkeen. 

Tamkeen is a semi-autonomous government agency focusing on private sector development. In this team-up, it will finance automation and digitization projects. It will offer grants of up to 50 percent to those who will implement Industry 4.0 technologies. 

‘Smart’ factories

iFactories will play a pivotal role in driving Bahrain’s industrial sector toward Industry 4.0. Particularly, it will focus on evaluating factory readiness, gauging digital maturity, and empowering them to make technology infrastructure and manufacturing automation investments.

To hit Bahrain’s ‘smart factories’ goal, it will go through key stages. 

To begin, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce will provide guidance and technical assistance for conducting a self-evaluation. Then, accredited evaluators will conduct an actual assessment.

The third stage entails the creation of a digital transformation plan. Factories can use this plan to access incentives and leverage other forms of support. The final stage is the development phase, wherein the Ministry will oversee the transformation process using performance monitoring tools.

Bahrain’s smart factory initiative aligns with the national goals of enhancing efficiency, competitiveness, and job creation in the private sector. For this project, the Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI), an international standard for evaluating Industry 4.0 practices, will serve as the guide for the factory transformation process. This ensures alignment with global best practices.

Maha Mufeez, the chief executive officer of Tamkeen, further affirmed the partnership’s alignment with the organization’s goal to empower the private sector. According to her, this plan will stimulate economic growth and generate employment opportunities for Bahrainis. In addition, it will modernize the sector and catalyze the adoption of advanced technologies to enhance their operations and productivity. 

Read: Warehouse robots getting smarter, faster, delivering strong ROI

Robotics in GCC

One trend that could give Bahrain’s smart factory efforts a boost is the growing robotics industry in the region. PwC estimates that the Middle East could draw up to $125 bn in robotics investments by 2025.

Robotics technology is especially useful in automating key components of factory operations.

In Saudi Arabia, for example, robotics and AI are booming. The sector is expected to have a gross domestic product (GDP) contribution of 12.4 percent or $135.2 mn. 

“The government is driving initiatives such as the automation of 4,000 manufacturing plants within the next five years, and the Kingdom’s logistical strategy launched last year lists the use of robotics and AI in smart cities, including NEOM and The Line,” stated Ahmed Baharoon, AI consultant and co-founder of Inc Robotics, a Saudi-based robotics provider.

Saudi-based venture capital firms have also commenced investing in the robotics industry. For instance, Prosperity7, Aramco’s investment subsidiary, has recently poured investments worth $150 mn into Chinese startup Jaka Robotics. On the other hand, Saudi Excellence Co. has teamed up with US-based robotics company Nala Robotics to establish the kingdom’s first AI-powered robotic cloud kitchen. 

The sovereign wealth fund-owned Research Products Development Co. also eyes to utilize a robot to take on underwater pipeline inspection roles. 

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates is investing in robotics through initiatives like the Dubai Robotics and Automation Program. This initiative aims to increase the country’s robotics sector’s GDP contribution to 9 percent by 2032. 

As part of the program, a total of 200,000 robots will be deployed to improve efficiency across diverse sectors, including services, logistics, and the industrial sector.

For more technology news, click here.