LAB7 is empowering a new generation of innovators
Named after Aramco’s first commercial oil well, discovered over 80 years ago, LAB7 will support a new kind of pioneer to turn their vision into reality – the digital and technical entrepreneurs of the 21st century
Almost 2,000 years separate the advent of paper and the age of the Internet. The gap between the invention of the wheel and the world’s first automobile is even wider, stretching more than 5,000 years. Each of these breakthroughs had a profound impact on society, changing lives and behaviors in revolutionary ways. They are also clear examples of how mankind’s pursuit of progress is both timeless and relentless. But just as the needs of society evolve along with technological advances, so do the needs of our innovators.
Throughout history, the human race has been characterized by its capacity to innovate. Yet the rapidly accelerating pace of development has opened up a new realm of possibilities, from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to renewable energy. It is against this backdrop that Aramco is moving forward with an ambitious new project, LAB7, that seeks to empower the innovators of today - and help them deliver solutions for tomorrow.
From Well 7 to LAB7
Named after the landmark Dammam Well Number 7, the first commercial oil well in Saudi Arabia, LAB7 is a product development initiative that provides a platform for 21st Century pioneers to develop groundbreaking ideas from conception to completion, helping them turn their vision into reality. A purpose-built facility now under construction in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, will offer full technical and manufacturing support to projects accepted for the LAB7 program, as well as business development guidance to maximize their commercial prospects.
As we enter a new era of innovation, Aramco is seeking to promote prosperity, nurture potential and encourage the adoption of latest technologies – both inside the company and across the Saudi landscape, LAB7 will help advance technology development, which will in turn provide benefits through increased operational efficiencies, improved productivity and sustainability enhancements. - Ahmad A. Al Sa’adi, Aramco Senior Vice President of Technical Services
The state-of-the-art LAB7 facility is due to be finished in October 2021, complete with 24/7 dedicated workshops that can accommodate 19 projects and up to 300 innovators at any one time. However, in line with its mission to address key challenges facing the world today, projects must fall within one of three main domains to be considered: energy and sustainability, advanced manufacturing, and digital transformation. This aligns with Aramco’s broader commitment to finding efficient solutions that promote sustainable global development. Successful applicants will qualify to have their projects fully funded, teaming up with Aramco as partners. Alternatively, those who prefer to develop concepts independently can use the facility for a pre-determined rate.
Limitless possibilities for innovation
In either case, a highly skilled team of Aramco support staff will be on hand to provide technical expertise when required, leveraging the company’s wide range of capabilities to fill a crucial gap in the innovation value chain. That means successful applicants with accepted ideas, but who lack the technical skills or equipment to implement them, will get the help they need to see projects through to fruition – and prepare their products for market. Two manufacturing wings equipped with cutting-edge prototyping equipment provide limitless possibilities for product development, including automated manufacturing, electronic hardware development and non-metallic forming. Meanwhile, Aramco support staff at the facility will benefit from the immersive incubator experience, developing new skills that will ultimately help them advance in their own fields of expertise.
State-of-the-art and smartThe LAB7 facility itself incorporates cutting-edge features, from a smart management system called “INGINE8” developed in-house, to the deployment of nonmetallic materials in its construction. Recycled rubber from discarded tires contributes to more durable asphalt on its roadways, while its distinctive architecture incorporates open spaces to promote collaboration - and its adaptable systems take into account future technological advances to enable ongoing upgrades.
Features of INGINE8 promote safety, scalability, and creativity, to help LAB7 deliver on its promise to support innovation and growth. One component, for instance, is a smart fire evacuation system, which utilizes Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting technology to isolate hazardous areas, in case of an emergency, and visually guide occupants to the nearest and safest exits. Another feature will also incorporate an access control component that takes advantage of the building’s advanced systems, allowing innovators seamless and around-the-clock access to the lab’s resources.
Inspiring adventures in innovationThe facility embodies a spirit of innovation and commitment to accelerating human potential that are firmly rooted in the Aramco culture. Company programs across Saudi Arabia support economic and community projects that empower people to make the next leap forward. In doing so, Aramco will be helping individuals deliver solutions that prepare their communities for the future, giving them the tools to succeed in an ever-changing world. Aramco’s aim is to cultivating this culture of innovation through the application of both technology and imagination - and this is the philosophy at the heart of LAB7.
Its overarching vision is to encourage growth of the innovation ecosystem, creating and cultivating an atmosphere that empowers a new generation of entrepreneurs. In doing so, it aims to support development inside Saudi Arabia by enhancing the domestic landscape, creating quality job opportunities and promoting growth of a knowledge-based economy driven by innovation and technology. This is why other initiatives that complement LAB7 are also being planned, an online portal for freelancers and an annual industrial innovation summit on an international level.
Since Aramco first started producing oil more than eight decades ago, it has established itself as a leading innovator in the energy sector. It is a common thread that runs throughout its operations, from its specialized research centers to its application of cutting-edge Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies and its digital transformation project. LAB7 is another step on this exciting journey – illustrating how Aramco is not only leading by example, but also spurring on others through adventures in innovation that will ultimately usher in a new age of prosperity.