Smart meters1

A high-tech plant dedicated to the manufacture of smart metering devices, based on Internet of Things (IoT) technology, is gearing up for launch at Rusayl Industrial City, Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman.

The project – billed as a showcase of the country’s innovative capability in advanced technologies – is being set up by the National Energy Center (NEC), a semi-government enterprise that counts a number of key public sector entities as its shareholders. Investors in NEC include Shumookh Investment & Services (the investment arm of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates – Madayn) and a number of government, defence and security pension funds.

According to a senior representative of the Muscat-based enterprise, the plant will add a ‘smart manufacturing’ component to NEC’s growing portfolio of smart solutions, encompassing electricity, water, gas, lighting, environment, and civic waste.

Laila al Hadhrami (pictured), Smart Cities Development Manager – National Energy Center, said the plant, currently under construction with an investment of around RO 4 million, will manufacture IoT-based smart meters under the ‘Ectron’ brand for the energy, water and gas service sectors.

Speaking at a conference on ‘Digital Transformation’, organised by UMS Events recently, Laila said the factory – the first of its kind in the Middle East – will involve robots in the manufacture of high-tech sensors incorporated into the devices. In addition, a team of 25 Omani ‘champions’ is being trained at overseas facilities to operate the plant when it comes into operation by around the first quarter of 2022, she stated.

Also as part of the project, NEC is developing around 1,750 of warehousing capacity at Rusayl Industrial City to accommodate more than 150,000 smart meters, Laila noted.

Importantly, the project will pave the way for the localisation of a product that has been widely deployed across the Sultanate of Oman in recent years, albeit, on the basis of imports. NEC, a pioneer in the field of smart metering solutions in the country, is credited with initiatives that have contributed to the installation of more than 300,000 smart meters, primarily in the electricity sector. The company has also expanded in presence in the Gulf region.

Significantly, the IoT smart device manufacturing project has its genesis in the ICT Lab organised by authorities in early 2019 to jumpstart the growth of a thriving value-creating and employment generating ICT industry in the Sultanate of Oman.

Lab participants stressed the need for local manufacturing capacity to meet the burgeoning requirement for smart water and electricity meters to enhance efficient energy consumption, curtail leakage and waste, and eliminate metering and billing errors.

NEC was seen as ideally positioned to develop the project given its unrivalled experience in enabling the rollout of automated meter reading services in partnership with various utilities in the country.

(Picture for illustration only)

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