Smart Manufacturing Demands R&D

Published December 1st, 2009 - 12:37 GMT

As the demand for innovative products grows Omani manufacturer’s are allocating more of their time and budget to R&D activities. A topic that will be the focus of Dr. Abdulah Al Zakwani’s, Director, Industrial Innovation Research Centre (IIRC) keynote address at PEIE’s annual Smart Manufacturing Conference scheduled to be held 7 December at Muscat’s Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Supported by Reem Batteries, Al Mudhish, Oman Cables and Business Today, PEIE’s Smart Manufacturing is the only annual Gulf-based conference geared specifically to the needs of small and mid-sized manufacturers.

The IIRC Director said that the economic landscape for Omani manufacturers has been positive over the past few years, “but given the current global economic downturn there has never been a more important time to put innovation at the heart of a manufacturing firm’s business strategy.”

Al Zakwani makes the obvious, but not easily achieved, point: “Our manufacturers have to continue being better than anybody else. Many of our customers are in Europe, Asia and the US, so we’ve got to overcome that physical separation by being better at what we do and turning the geographic disadvantage into a source of competitive advantage.”

This is easier said than done, especially today, as Omani manufacturers also find themselves increasingly up against the emergence of low-cost competition from India and China. For this reason, investment in R&D is crucial.

“We’ve got to be technically better, we’ve got to continue to improve the products we offer our customers, because we’re either at a cost disadvantage, compared with India and China, or a geographical disadvantage, compared with our competitors in Europe, Asia and the US.”

Ibtisam Al Farjuji, PEIE’s Marketing Director and Smart Manufacturing Conference organizer also notes that it is not just about the Rials being invested in R&D that is changing. She says local manufacturers are today far more strategic in how they approach R&D.

“Many local firms are collaborating with universities, or outsourcing into the growing private-sector presence in this area, while some are joining with others in co-operative fashion. Whatever strategy local manufacturers adopt, it’s an explicit acknowledgment that R&D is a vital component in remaining competitive in today’s ever competitive manufacturing sector.”

According to Al Faruji the Smart Manufacturing Conference offers local firms a “marvellous opportunity to network and discuss issues elated to innovation and R&D. Indeed, having someone of Dr. Al Zakwani’s calibre deliver the keynote address is a real privilege.”

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