Fine-tuned faculties: Rapid PMV market maturation

To the relief of high-end manufacturers, and in line with global trends towards greater efficiency, the GCC is finally coming to appreciate the benefits of data

COMMENT, PMV

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Despite the abundant enthusiasm of the Gulf countries for leading technological developments in various sectors, the sentiment has barely spilled over into plant and machinery.

For years, contractors have demanded quick and dirty solutions that prioritised low-cost machines and cost per volume over cost per weight — to the frustration of leading OEMs.

However, the region is playing catch-up, and it is doing it quickly. Some contractors woke up following the 2008 recession, but many more have been jolted awake by the low oil price, budgetary constraints and the prospect of a prolonged down-turn in spending and projects.

Largesse is no longer an option, and we see this first and foremost in the oil and gas sector, which is leading in the uptake of telematics, slashing its inefficiencies to the bare minimum.

However, as acknowledged in the April issue of PMV Middle East, the rise in the uptake of data technologies for vehicles and machinery across the region far outstrips similar trends in other markets in terms of the pace of change.

It will surely only be a matter of time before advanced machine controls on motor graders or hauling equipment become wide spread, as the time saving made by avoiding manual surveying, or the diminished cost of fewer passes, become tangible and actionable issues for contractors.

At Bauma, Caterpillar CEO Dough Ober Oberhelman proclaimed the ‘age of smart iron’ — a golden epoch of data aggregation, analysis and interpretation to create actionable results that at present remains beyond the Gulf’s reach.

However, it will be interesting to see what becomes of the tantalising baby steps that are already being made in the region, and whether objectives like the connectivity-themed Dubai 2020 Expo can drive the digital awakening.

The Road & Transport Authority (RTA) in the emirate is already contemplating a mandatory telematics roll-out for heavy vehicles and at the end of April hosted the 5th biennial MENA Transport Congress & Exhibition — furnished with a driverless transit vehicle at its entrance from transport and robotics pioneer, Easymile.

The signs of the data revolution are there-fore out and about, and while the proportion of companies using advanced data technologies with respect to their fleets of machinery remains low, it rarely pays to underestimate the GCC.

While much regulatory work needs to be done to take most sectors from the reality to the ideal, the Gulf has already achieved far more than was ever considered possible some 40 years ago.

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PMV Middle East - September 2020

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