Industry, Logistics & Shipping

`4IR and regionalisation of supply chains essential’: experts

The regionalisation of supply chains and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies are among the most critical components in future-proofing global economies against systemic shocks like the Covid-19 pandemic, experts at the just concluded inaugural US roadshow of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS America) said.
The forum – which was hosted by the Honorable Thomas Wolf, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, under the theme of ‘‘Advancing global industrialidation and net-zero” – convened dozens of experts from across government and the private sector. The event witnessed discussions on how digital technologies can accelerate the global energy transition and support the growth of sustainable manufacturing.
The first discussion of the day discussed how regional trade agreements can be structured to protect supply chains and global economies, resulting in profound effects on innovation, technology transfer, and citizen prosperity. It comes as deep trade agreements increasingly cover a multitude of policy areas including technology, labour, investment and intellectual property rights. Speakers participating in the panel included Petra Mitchell, President and CEO, Catalyst Connection; Thomas Bruns, Regional Senior Commercial Officer at the US Embassy Abu Dhabi; Mohammed AlAhmedi, CEO, Ducab Metals; and Kendrick Tang, Director of Rail Planning and Sales, Etihad Rail. 
Petra Mitchell, President and CEO, Catalyst Connection, said: “The adoption of the latest technology is going to continue to be critical to the success of small manufacturing companies. It’s going to be those companies that can really accelerate the pace of technology adoption that are going to be successful, so our role is to make sure we don’t leave companies behind – and more importantly we don’t leave people behind.”
Commenting on the importance of progress towards regional trade agreements that harness Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to increase collaboration, Mohammed AlAhmedi, CEO, Ducab Metals, added: “With exporting to more than 50 countries we faced a lot of challenges, especially during the pandemic with disruptions to the availability of containers and freight.
“The GCC countries have had a very strong system and it’s been there for a while, but now we can take it and utilise advanced solutions like blockchain and artificial intelligence to help boost collaboration. When having a unified system between parties and a fully integrated ecosystem, where partners talk to each other, the flow of products will follow.  Globally we are waiting for a role model of this sort of regional trade agreement, but in the UAE, our government is working on this at a stable pace.” 
The day’s next panel featured speakers from some of the world’s most prominent industrial services organisations discussing how their companies are adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Manufacturers, like consumers, are expecting a digital-first insights-based approach from their industrial services provider, which is in turn prompting changes to contracts and business models.
Mansoor Al Janahi, CEO, Sanad, said that end-users are increasingly demanding that products and components are serviced locally, so they don’t rely on suppliers outside the country of their operations. “Customers are looking for flexibility and agility,” he said, adding, “There is a rising need from end users for service providers and manufacturers to focus on ESG practices so it’s aligned with the SDGs.” 
On the same topic, Daniel J. Crowley, Chairman, President and CEO, Triumph, added: “Consumers have become more demanding. They’ve seen in their personal lives the speed of service or ease of access to information from services on demand, and they want to see the same delivery from traditionally older industries like aviation.” Other speakers joining the expert panel included Elias Merrawe, Vice President, Civil Business - UAE, Thales; and Richard Petrucci, Managing Director, WhiteOak.
During the afternoon, experts from UNIDO, the Lloyd’s Register Foundations and leading industrial organizations joined a panel focusing on industrial safety in the smart era. The discussion reviewed industrial safety from a technology perspective with a particular focus on the immediate actions required to address new and deep-rooted industrial safety challenges. The session focused on how to accelerate the adoption of new technology-enabled solutions to address ongoing safety challenges, while ensuring that these new technologies do not unlock other risks related to cyber-security.
Panellists also highlighted the Global Initiative for Industrial Safety (GIFIS), a global platform for a safer world enabled by technology, launched by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), the Lloyd's Register Foundation (LRF) and the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) in collaboration with the Cambridge Industrial Innovation Policy (CIIP). 
Speaking on the panel, David Reid, Director of Strategic Communications and Global Engagement, Lloyd’s Register Foundation highlighted that the pace of change is happening faster than anticipated and reaction is slow in terms of education and training and adoption of safety regulations. Farrukh Alimdjanov, Industrial Development Officer, UNIDO, emphasized that businesses are more prone to cyberattacks as they get more connected and how there is a need to build win-win partnerships, capitalising on global collaborative platforms such as the Global Initiative for Industrial Safety to bring in different sectors to promote cyber security for everyone. 
They were joined by Dr Himanshu, Khurana, VP of Engineering, Industrial Scientific, Fortive; and Dr. Carlos, López-Gómez, Head of Policy Links, IfM, Engage, University of Cambridge.