Tech takeover: the rise of electronics in the Gulf

Is the rising tide of electronics and circuitry finally submerging the Gulf?

COMMENT, PMV

The PMV segment is constantly faced with the relentless March of successive technologies, and industry operators constantly face the dilemma of when and whether to invest in the latest technologies and systems, or to cling on for the moment to the modes of operation that they know.

At first the technological changes in many industries were subtle — the creep of electronics in the automotive industry was gradual, but they are now so well entrenched in cars and trucks that, save for a few vestigial Land Rovers with mechanical injector systems still roaming around Africa, the faithful mechanical vehicle is all but lost to the world. However, a fierce resistance has been fought it many sectors, with the electrification of previously mechanical systems being viewed with hostility as not only a complex and unnecessary change, but one that adds to maintenance overheads and overall costs.

Low-tech mechanical systems continue to find favour in many corners of the Gulf due to the inherent reliability and ease of service associated with such features. Sennebogen is one crane brand that actively pursues a low-tech ethos in the region to accommodate local tastes.

And yet, there is a certain inevitability to it all. Mission creep is everywhere, including GCC legislation requiring the presence of telematics systems — as is now required in cranes.

Where the economic case for technological change is adequately conveyed, the situation can swiftly switch to one of rapid adoption — consider automatic transmissions in trucks.

In trucks, we may also see the next phase guided by the wallets of professionals, not legislation, as Daimler makes its Telligent brake assist, lane assist and active cruise control features available in the region for the first time. The economic case is clear: fewer crashes.

But these driver assist technologies are also the vanguard of fully autonomous technology. A guest columnist this month, Khizer Hayat, seeks to accelerate supply chain calculations with artificial intelligence — not to put people out of work, but due to a chronic labour shortage at a time of growth in the segment.

Indeed, automating certain processes often frees up workers for tasks that genuinely require human attention. It also tends to lead to greater productivity and, critically, safety.

Industries can be reluctant ro accept new technology, but realisation tends to dawn when hard economic truths trump historical practices, and in the long-run the technology always wins.

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