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Spearheading innovation: Aramco unveils new 'Fourth industrial revolution center'

Khalid Abusalem, chairman of UAV and Robotics, operates a drone pilot simulator in the Immersive Zones Hub at the 4IR Center, while Osama Bahwal instructs. The zone showcases Saudi Aramco’s readiness and capabilities related to immersive technologies and digital transformation.


At Aramco’s premises in Dhahran, a remodeled and vastly expanded office wing has been converted into a 4IR Center, where technological and digital innovation is, in turn, transforming the way in which the company runs its operations.

In a global economy that is increasingly leveraging the opportunities afforded by what is known as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (4IR), it is essential for industry to tap into the many opportunities and possibilities contained within it. Lagging behind is simply not an option, and Saudi Aramco is effectively blazing a trail in the energy industry with its targeted strategic focus on cutting-edge digital technology.

The 4IR Center will play a pivotal role in uplifting the technical skills of our workforce and bringing advanced technology capabilities to realize the company’s digital transformation vision. The center will help the company’s operational performance to enable greater efficiencies and significant cost savings, and help further strengthen our global leadership in the oil and gas industry.  

“We are excited about the potential of the center. It will play a key role in accelerating the digital transformation across Saudi Aramco, be pivotal in enabling a paradigm shift for our operations through more digital technologies, while unlocking new business and operating models,” says Ahmad A. Al-Sa’adi, senior vice president of Technical Services

Technology zones

With its advanced capabilities, extensive access to information, and people-centric environment, the center is a digital transformation ecosystem for digital solutions throughout the hydrocarbon value chain. It is designed to support the end-to-end use case development throughout its ideation, prototyping, piloting, and full-scale deployment.

Some 2,500 square meters of office space was remodeled in the construction process. The facility features 279 square meters of video walls, with a total of more than 109 million pixels pitch that split into multiple clusters and zones.

Visitors are welcomed by a “V-receptionist” hologram that provides safety instructions and gives an overview of the center. At the heart of the center is the futuristic circular bright space of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Hub, which is ringed by a massive concave video screen on which over 20 operational solutions are displayed. It is one of the biggest screens of its kind in the world.

The AI Hub is focused on developing advanced analytics and machine learning solutions in hydrocarbon related applications. The big data and advanced analytics make use of the innovative solutions in this domain to visualize and predict the performance of critical Saudi Aramco assets. This hub combines in-house development and external tools to enable our subject matter experts to make timely decisions to improve asset availability, utilization, and efficiency. The value and cost savings realized from these solutions underlines the significant impact on our operations and business.

Next to the AI Hub is the “VR Zone,” which is used to develop, prototype, and train for augmented and virtual reality, among other capabilities. This hub can be used to visualize plant assets and to get a live sense of the plant experience from a simulation booth.

The center also has the capability demonstrating operational use cases of air, ground, and underwater robots through the “UAV Space.” This section combines cutting-edge technologies that supports a variety of different applications — including methane detection, emergency response, inspection services, project monitoring, inventory management and many others — to reduce cost, enhance efficiency, and improve health, safety, and environment.

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