Sunday, December 06, 2009

Manufacturing on the Rise

The quiet industrial revolution which has been transforming Oman’s manufacturing sector over the past decade will be entering the limelight at a major international conference later this week.

Organized by PEIE and held under the patronage of HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry, manufacturers from across the sultanate will be joining PEIE’s annual Smart Manufacturing conference - to share the secrets of success from those who have been leading the way.

The event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 7 December is part of PEIE’s annual outreach program and is supported by Reem Batteries, Oman Cables, Al Mudhish, Origin Oman, Business Today and Times of Oman.

Delivered by Dr. Abdullah Al Zakwani (pictured), Director, Industrial Innovation Centre, the Smart Manufacturing Conference keynote address will focus on innovation and its role in manufacturing.

“Local manufacturers have to continue being better than anybody else. Many of our customers are in Europe, Asia and the US, so we’ve got to overcome that physical separation by being better at what we do and turning the geographic disadvantage into a source of competitive advantage. Innovation plays a critical role in achieving that,” argues Al Zakwani.

Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Marketing Director and organizer of Smart Manufacturing said: “This one-day event is an opportunity to discuss the challenges industry faces today, whether that’s accessing finance, attracting talent, exploring new export markets or changing the public’s perception of the sector. Given the state of the global economy this conference comes at an extremely important time. Indeed, it’s crucial that we continue to build upon our current position and strive to increase the sector’s productivity and international competitiveness.”

“Given that we’ve over 20 presenters from Europe, Asia and the Middle East participating we firmly believe that delegates will gain valuable insight that will make a marked difference to their businesses and help them prepare for what we expect to be a bumpy 18 months or so,” adds Al Faruji.

However, we have to be careful not to paint too black a picture and talk ourselves into something far worse than what we’ve weathered before, comments Al Faruji. “For example, orders to US factories rose in October, the sixth gain in the past seven months. This is further evidence that the manufacturing sector is beginning to recover.”

The US-based Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its manufacturing index read 53.6, slightly lower than October's 55.7. But any reading above 50 indicates growth.

Economists were especially encouraged that new orders in the ISM report jumped over 60 for the third time in the past four months. The last such streak was in 2005. Of the 17 industries surveyed, 13 reported higher orders.

“These US figures bode well for a pick-up in global economic activity. With lowered inventories, new orders will need to be filled by increasing production with eventual increases in employment. In fact, the overall picture is looking a lot more healthy,” suggests PEIE’s Marketing Director.

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