As many as 300 local factories are set to become more efficient, productive, and flexible by 2026, under a new joint initiative by the Industry and Commerce Ministry and Tamkeen.

Launched yesterday, iFactories is a programme that 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.

Outlining the idea behind the initiative, Industry and Commerce Minister Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro said, “By adopting best practices in production management, we can ensure the sustainability of industrial resources, increase productivity, and create quality jobs for citizens.”

He was speaking during an event held at the Bahrain Bourse to mark the launch of the programme.

Mr Fakhro added that iFactories is a key part of Industrial Development Strategy (IDS) 2022-26 which aims to raise the industrial sector’s contribution to national GDP to 14.5 per cent by 2026.

In addition to the GDP target, the IDS also has a number of other targets, such as: Increasing the number of Bahraini nationals employed in the industrial sector to 65,291 by 2026.

The strategy also aims to increase the share of exports from the industrial sector to 80.1pc and reduce the sector’s energy intensity by 10pc over the next few years.

Explaining how the programme will work, Dr Khaled Al Alawi, assistant under-secretary for industrial development in the ministry, said factories can ask for an evaluation which would measure their level of digital maturity.

“They will then be enabled through Tamkeen support to invest in technology infrastructure and manufacturing automation,” he added.

The assessment will be based on the Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI) which is the latest international standard for evaluating factories in terms of applying the practices and tools of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

A presentation by Dr Al Alawi summarised the four-step factory transformation process.

It starts with the evaluation stage, where the ministry will provide advisory and technical support to conduct self-evaluation, followed by the actual evaluation by accredited evaluators.

The next stage will see the factory move to the design level and develop a digital transformation plan, which is considered the basis for the empowerment stage.

In the third stage, the factory will be able to obtain support and incentives, ending with the development phase, where the ministry will, through its tools, monitor the transformation process through performance measuring tools and indicators.

Tamkeen was represented at the event by the executive director for business development Khalid Al Bayat, who spoke on behalf of chief executive Maha Mufeez.

He explained that Tamkeen’s role in this initiative is 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.

The organisation will also support the training and qualification of 20 Bahrainis to obtain the Certified (SIRI) Assessor qualification, making them the first batch of globally accredited evaluators to measure factories’ readiness for digital transformation and assess their digital maturity, he added.

A statement quoted Ms Mufeez as saying that the iFactories initiative ties in with Tamkeen’s twin goals of making the private sector the main driver of Bahrain’s economic growth and making Bahrainis the first choice for employment in the labour market.

Dr Al Alawi invited factory owners to join the initiative by starting self-assessment using the evaluation guide available on the ministry’s website, or by communicating directly with specialists in the ministry.


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