The U.S.-Saudi Business Council (USSBC) spoke again with Abdullah Al-Juffali, Country President, Honeywell Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, to learn about Honeywell’s logistics division and its participation in the Saudi logistics sector’s transformation under Vision 2030. Honeywell is a longtime member of the USSBC and an active participant across many of Saudi Arabia’s rapidly developing and diversifying economic sectors. Mr. Al-Juffali discussed Honeywell’s support for the country’s logistical needs, their utilization of digital logistical solutions, their partners in the logistics sector, and their major projects involved with land, sea, and air transportation.
The logistics sector plays a pivotal role in the success of Vision 2030. How has Honeywell supported the Kingdom’s diversification goals by supporting the logistics and transportation sectors thus far?
Transportation and logistics are fundamental enablers of the Kingdom’s economic growth plans under its Vision 2030. As the country diversifies its economy into sectors such as tourism, and grows its industrial base beyond energy, the need for logistics routes across air, road, and sea is continuing to increase.
For companies like Honeywell that can offer a broad range of digital technologies designed to maximize operational performance and efficiency, this represents a significant growth opportunity and we are already heavily engaged in supporting the advancement of these key sectors in Saudi Arabia.
In warehouses and distribution centers we have a portfolio of solutions that improve speed and accuracy of supply chains. We are also involved in the expansion of the Kingdom’s maritime infrastructure and are providing technologies to support the performance and growth of the country’s airports and air operators. In fact we have digital technologies deployed across virtually every part of the logistics supply chain, to maximize the efficiency of trade within and beyond Saudi’s borders.
Honeywell has a longstanding commercial presence in Saudi Arabia that includes several major joint ventures and billions of dollars in investments. How has Honeywell’s business relationship with Saudi Arabia evolved, particularly over the past decade?
Our journey in Saudi Arabia started in 1948 when we began working with Aramco, and today our presence encompasses seven sites across the Kingdom that are home to a workforce of around 500 colleagues – more than half of which are Saudi nationals. Our growth strategy in Saudi has been built on a foundation of localization, and that has increased exponentially as we have deepened our partnership with Aramco and other leading entities within the Kingdom.
Over the past decade we have opened advanced engineering and R&D hubs in Saudi, enabling us to localize a greater proportion of technologies for a broader range of critical sectors of the economy. We have focused on growing our Saudi workforce, including increasing the percentage of female hires into the team for consecutive years.
Honeywell has recently been awarded a contract to develop a suite of logistical based technologies at the King Salman International Complex for Maritime Industries, how do you see Honeywell’s involvement in the maritime industry evolving?
Much like airports, maritime ports are complex ecosystems that are always on and highly connected. At their core is a vast amount of operational data that, if harnessed in the right way, can unlock substantial improvements in operating performance, safety, security and efficiency.
Environments like this play perfectly to our core strengths because we have the know-how to integrate multiple disparate parts of an infrastructure, turn its data into insights that can be used to improve performance, and do this in close partnership and collaboration with local entities. As Saudi Arabia expands its maritime infrastructure we will continue to support with technology that maximizes the safety, security and efficiency of their facilities.
Honeywell is also actively involved in the aviation sector as evidenced by the recent MOU signing with the Riyadh Airport Company (RAC). How has Honeywell supported this sector given the increases in passenger travel post COVID-19?
The two key points for Saudi Arabia, and indeed the entire region, when it comes to aviation is that firstly, the sector is very much back in business after the pandemic. We see flight hours continuing to increase as people fly again to meet colleagues, family and contacts that they have not had the opportunity to see in person for the past few years. The second is the continued growth of regional travel within the Middle East, with new routes opening up that are driven in part by a rebound in regional tourism.
Saudi is well-positioned to support this growth and we are helping to establish its position as a major aviation hub in the region. As well as our work with Riyadh Airports Company on the deployment of automation technology to advance operational efficiency, uptime and continuity, sustainability, and passenger experience, we are also working with Saudia to localize maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services in-Kingdom. These speed up the turnaround time for aftermarket services, and help limit unplanned grounding by providing greater access to services domestically, without having to send aircraft away or source parts from overseas.
The National Transport and Logistics Strategy entails a comprehensive program to make the Kingdom a global logistics hub. How competitive will Honeywell have to be to be a major player in supporting this strategy?
We understand our customers in Saudi Arabia have a choice in their suppliers and we highly value and appreciate our long-standing partnerships with companies across the Kingdom. We are committed to continuing our support of their growth objectives through technology and localization, and are uniquely positioned in that regard through our long experience of doing business in the country, our technology capabilities and broad domain expertise in Saudi’s key growth sectors including logistics. We have the right technology and knowledge mix to support the Kingdom’s journey to become a global logistics hub, and are excited about the future of this sector.
What key market factors will have the greatest impact on the Kingdom’s logistics sector where Honeywell will be a major player in driving the success of this sector over the next five to ten years?
Technology is going to continue to be the key to the success of Saudi Arabia’s logistics sector. You only need to look at the transport and logistics automation ambitions of NEOM for an example of how far Saudi Arabia is prepared to push the boundaries of what is possible through innovation. This investment will be pivotal because the Kingdom has set itself ambitious goals around economic development and prosperity for its citizens.
We expect Saudi to be world leaders in the use of innovative technologies such as AI and robotics and its continued focus on, and investment in, these areas will have significant impact on all sectors — including logistics.
The other factor is the Kingdom’s commitments regarding sustainability. Logistics is a sector that has traditionally been carbon intensive right along the length of the supply chain. Saudi Arabia has signaled its intent to change that through the deployment of technology from the point of energy creation right through to its consumption, and Honeywell is proud to be an important partner in delivering against this objective with ready-now technologies at every stage of the value chain.