Bahrain’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Abdullah bin Adel Fakhro, has announced the launch of iFactories, described as a national initiative to support the movement of the country’s industrial sector towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (sometimes called Industry 4.0).
The aims of the initiative include assessing the readiness of factories, measuring their level of digital maturity, and enabling them to invest in technology infrastructure and manufacturing automation.
Specifically, this initiative is aimed at transforming 300 factories into smart factories by the year 2026. The iFactories programme supports the creation of smart manufacturers compliant with Industry 4.0 standards using technologies like robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, and 3D printing.
It will be carried out in a strategic partnership with semi-autonomous government agency Tamkeen, which focuses on development of the private sector. Tamkeen’s role in this initiative will be that of an accelerator, financing automation and digitisation projects through grants of up to 50pc to factories that want to implement Industry 4.0 technologies.
While the initiative seems, for now, to be short on technical and practical specifics, the Bahrain News Agency explains that iFactories seeks to adopt the best regional and global practices in managing production lines to ensure the sustainability of the industrial sector’s resources, raise its productivity, increase its efficiency, reduce dependence on unskilled manpower, and shift towards automation and modern technologies, in order to create promising job opportunities for citizens.
This factory transformation process has four stages. Firstly, the Industry and Commerce Ministry will provide advisory and technical support to conduct self-evaluation. This will be followed by the actual evaluation by accredited evaluators, which will move the factory to the design stage to develop a digital transformation plan; this is to be the basis for what is called the empowerment stage. Through this, factories will be able to obtain support and incentives.
The fourth step is the development phase, where the Ministry will monitor the transformation process through performance monitoring tools and measure its indicators.