18 September 2018

Inaugural SPS Automation Middle East opens in Dubai with special focus on robotics, IoT, and Artificial Intelligence

Leading global suppliers share the stage with industry experts at region’s dedicated automation conference and exhibition

SPS Automation Middle East

Dubai, UAE: Leading global automation suppliers shared the stage with key decision makers, manufacturers, and industry experts, as the region’s only conference and exhibition dedicated to all facets of the automation world opened in Dubai today (18 September 2018)

Running until tomorrow (19 September) at Dubai’s Festival Arena, SPS Automation Middle East 2018 brings together professionals of the automation industry under one roof, providing a dedicated platform for the latest innovations and solutions steering the region toward a smarter and high tech future.

The debut edition of the two-day event is organised by Messe Frankfurt Middle East, and arrives as the Gulf region in particular looks to diversify its economies centred on manufacturing and services with a special focus on Industry 4.0 – the merging of robotics, IoT, and Artificial Intelligence.

Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, said: “The Middle East is ushering a new automation era based on a modern society, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution paving the way forward for an exciting future in this rapidly-evolving sector. 

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia are at the forefront of the market; industrial and building automation in the UAE will nearly double in value over the next five years, from US$1.73 billion in 2017 to US$3.09 billion in 2023,

“Meanwhile Saudi’s massive NEOM development on the Red Sea is one example of the Kingdom’s ambitious course toward a bold new future with automation at the core.”

Pauwels added: “The challenge up to now has been creating awareness of this burgeoning industry.  Now, in SPS Automation Middle East, the region has a new focal point dedicated to all aspects of automation that not only fosters dialogue among key players across related sectors, but creates synergies that drive development as the industry picks up pace.”

SPS Automation Middle East 2018 provides a broad cross-section of the nuts and bolts of automated manufacturing and building infrastructure, from Drive Systems and Components, Software, IT, and Mechanical Infrastructure, to Interface Technology, Power Supplies, and Human-Machine Interface Devices. 

Among the 21 global players showcasing their wares are official Launch Partners including German companies BECKHOFF, Bosch Rexroth, SICK, Pilz, and LAPP. Japanese headquartered Mitsubishi Electric Factory Automation is also a Launch Partner while American powerhouse Rockwell Automation is on-board as the show’s official Automation Sponsor. Other supporting partners include Gold Sponsor Procentec, Silver Sponsor Indu-Sol, and Bronze Sponsor Delta Electronics.

Meanwhile, regulatory guidelines and industry best practise are examples of lively presentations that comprise an engaging conference.  Among the 15-strong speaker line-up today was Martin Ruane, Programme Director at ENGIE from the UK, who delivered a case study about ENGIE’s Award Winning Programme on Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

ENGIE, a leading energy and services company, utilised RPA to replicate human data processing activities, positioning it above existing IT infrastructure meaning that existing interfaces and systems can be repurposed.  Ruane said RPA replicates what its human counterpart would do; however unlike its human equivalent, the RPA virtual workforce processes information continually without a break and consistently.

“ENGIE was an early adopter of RPA in 2014, starting with two Proof of Concept processes that went live in August 2015,” said Ruane.  “For a full year after August 2015, we focused on developing expertise and intellectual collateral to be in a position to roll out RPA at scale. 

“In September 2016, ENGIE launched its Centre of Excellence and from 2017, has been implementing the technology across the UK.  Along the way ENGIE has won two national awards for its innovative programme.”

Speaking about the challenges to implementing such a programme, Rouane said:  “Work with IT early and think about how to use the technology on a functional level and assess if there are any security risks.

“It’s also important that RPA is viewed as a change management programme as research shows if that’s not the case, then the programme will falter. We’re now investigating using Chatbots to capture and digitise information that then can be coupled with RPA technology to process it in back end applications.”

Meanwhile, the Middle East could be the world’s fastest growing market for the adoption of connected oilfield technology, as the region switches from dated analogue technology to the next big thing in oilfield services – the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), another industry expert said on the side-lines of SPS Automation Middle East 2018.

Arunkumar Janarthanan is the Associate Director of Industrial Practice in the Middle East and Africa region for business advisory and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan – SPS Automation Middle East’s Industry Intelligence Partner. 

Janarthanan said Middle East oil producers are expected to consider connected oilfield technology to not only enhance oil recovery but to achieve cost savings and operational improvements.

He said many Middle East oilfields that have abundantly produced for decades have now reached their peaks, prompting regional countries to adopt the digital transformation of oilfield services to economically produce from new offshore sites.

“Approximately 85 percent of Middle East oilfields are running on systems using analogue technology, but the race is on to make fields smarter and more connected,” said Janarthanan.  “Middle East countries are diving into the digitisation of services, so much so that the region is expected to be the fastest growing market in connected oilfield technology for at least the next six years.”

He said rather than relying on proprietary solutions, some Middle East oil companies are now already sharing data among all companies that work on their wells, adding “As a result, they’re breaking down silos and fast becoming a prototype for optimising information management in a connected world.”

Abhay Bhargava, Director of Industrial Practice in the Middle East Africa region at Frost & Sullivan was also a speaker on the first day of SPS Automation Middle East.  He describes the connected oilfield as one that uses technology to historically manage production, personnel and safety, allowing for reduced costs, increased production, and improved efficiency in the oil and gas sector.

Bhargava’s presentation at SPS Automation Middle East 2018 highlighted the evolving IIoT trends in the global market and its implications for the Gulf Cooperation Council, a region which has a significant reliance on its oil and gas sector for economic development.

Meanwhile, manufacturing is another sector that could benefit the most from IIoT and Industry 4.0, which are key focal points of SPS Automation Middle East 2018.

“The Middle East has traditionally focused on conventional industries as well as trade for economic growth, however recently, there has been a considerable thrust to not just manufacture locally, but to also build facilities that can compete on a global scale so they can align themselves to exports,” said Bhargava.

“Additionally, there’s a strong trend of focusing on building future ready facilities, with an aim to protect the longevity of investments made. In this context, and considering how a large wave of industrialisation will be witnessed in the region in the short to medium term, we can expect IIoT to take off with a strong thrust in the near future.”

SPS Automation Middle East is the 5th addition to Mesago Messe Frankfurt’s SPS Automation Worldwide portfolio of events, which includes SPS IPC Drives, Smart Industry Solutions India, SIAF Guangzhou, and SPS IPC Drives Italia.