UAE to build the region's first 'microfactories'

The first microfactories in the Gulf Arab region will be ready within 18 months

Image used for illustrative purpose

Image used for illustrative purpose

29 March 2017

By Megha Merani

The first microfactories in the Gulf Arab region will be ready within 18 months and will be based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the companies behind the project said on Tuesday.

A microfactory is classed as a type of manufacturing incubator setting where products can be prototyped or produced in small batches.

Abu Dhabi-based investment and development company Mubadala, the Dubai Future Foundation and the US-based General Electric (GE) Additive have partnered to build the first of their kind in the region, it was announced at a press conference during the Global Manufacturing and Industrial Summit in Abu Dhabi.

The companies said they planned to build a microfactory focused on serving industrial companies in Abu Dhabi and second in Dubai to cater to the consumer sector.

“We don’t want to be confusing a microfactory with an actual factory. It (a microfactory) is an incubator fused with a factory,” Badr Al Olama, CEO at Strata Manufacturing and associate director at Mubadala Aerospace and Defense Services, said at the press conference.

The first microfactory will be ready in a “year to year and a half”, Al Olama said.

“In terms of construction timeline, the next step for us is to actually formalise what exactly is going to be put inside the microfactory so that needs to be spec’d out,” he said.

“That’s probably going to be a 3–6 month exercise and then what we will look for is to create the microfactory in a community.”

He did not specify in which emirate the first microfactory will be built. The total cost of the project will depend on the location and size, which have yet to be confirmed, he added.

Beth Comstock, vice chair at GE, added that microfactories facilitated small batches of manufacturing, using materials and processes such as 3D printing.

“They make manufacturing much more accessible,” she said, adding that it also enabled rapid prototyping.

The UAE aims to attract $75 billion into the country’s new industrial manufacturing sector by 2025, economy minister Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri said on Monday.

Al Olama also called the idea of microfactories “the next big thing” for the region’s emerging manufacturing sector.

© Zawya Projects News 2017

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