LAB7: Delivering on the drive to innovate
LAB7 is the centerpiece of a plan to usher in a new era of idea-driven prosperity. The innovation hub and surrounding Green Innovation Park is designed as a beacon of innovation, using advanced and novel technologies that visibly integrate innovation into every aspect of the facility’s design, construction, and operation.
In today’s business world, cutting-edge technology and unique solutions are what drive industries to go further and faster. This has been a critical component of Aramco’s DNA throughout its history — a commitment to fostering a culture of innovation that creates value and addresses corporate challenges.
Looking to maintain that culture and its place as an innovation leader globally in the industry, the company sought a way to cement its aspiration in becoming a catalyst for innovation.
Innovation is the driver for growth that allows us to capitalize on our challenges and transform them into opportunities to reach new heights of operational efficiency, productivity, and sustainability, keeping Aramco at the forefront of the competition.
— Ahmad A. Al Sa’adi, senior vice president of Technical Services
Ahmad A. Al Sa’adi, senior vice president of Technical Services, envisioned a world-class idea hub that would bring together employees and community members in a collaborative and creative environment that would extend the culture of innovation beyond company walls. This vision is being realized though the creation of LAB7, an incubator and accelerator for the development of ideas into commercialized products that support the company’s strategic and societal objectives.
Located beside the Kingdom’s first commercial oil well, Dammam 7, the center pays tribute to the Prosperity Well and will usher in a new era of idea-driven prosperity. The 5,500 m2 LAB7 innovation hub and surrounding 60,000 m2 Green Innovation Park is designed as a beacon of innovation, using advanced and novel technologies that visibly integrate innovation into every aspect of the facility’s design, construction, and operation.
The building will consist of three main segments: The Engineering Exhibition and two mirrored Manufacturing Wings. The engineering structure provides an exhibition and common area fully equipped with audiovisual technology, smart glass, and collaborative spaces to inspire creativity and provide a showcasing area. In contrast, the two manufacturing wings serve as industrial manufacturing areas housing 14 individual workshops fully furnished with the latest prototyping equipment and functionality necessary to support diverse product development capabilities.
By nurturing innovative ideas, hosting exhibitions, and offering plentiful prototyping and fabrication spaces, the center will provide opportunities for Saudi innovators, developers, and entrepreneurs to tackle real-world problems and corporate challenges.
Construction of the facility began in January 2020 as an integrated project, under Technical Services, and from the preliminary stages of construction, the facility capitalized on unique construction approaches that enhance construction efficiency while maintaining durability and safety. The building’s steel structure, CONXTECH, is a prefabricated structural steel building system that combines high-tech manufacturing with building information modeling to erect multistory buildings faster, more safely, and with less waste.
The facility also incorporates the use of sustainable and cost-effective nonmetallic materials in various aspects of its structure, such as the façade and surrounding fencing. Nonmetallic materials offer a lightweight, and corrosion resistant structure that is easily installed and that effectively reduces cleaning and maintenance needs.
Similarly, recycled material alternatives were also explored for the facility’s road construction. One of which is the use of recycled rubber from old tires to produce increased strength asphalt roadways. Likewise, walkway construction relies on prefabricated modular recycled plastics that are hollow and allow quick installation, facilitating the rapid installation of utility, piping, and cabling with little to no excavation.
As innovators enter LAB7, they will be greeted by seamless security access allowing visitors to easily wander through various areas of the facility while access authorizations are maintained by the Smart Management System (SMS). This system integrates with the building management system to significantly enhance user experience by reducing physical access obstructions all while maintaining the highest level of interbuilding security. Developed in-house, the SMS is an example that LAB7 innovators can aspire to as it is a working representation of the tangible value added by the company’s existing creative minds.
Also integrated into the building management system, is the power over Ethernet (POE) lighting system, which utilizes Ethernet for power and data transmission to and from lighting fixtures, enabling a high level of control over the lighting system throughout the facility.
LAB7 innovators will be able to capitalize on the latest equipment and tools, providing limitless possibilities of product development and manufacturing ranging from 3-D printing, to vacuum forming, and to circuit board printing. One example is the ability to prototype unique-shaped metal 3D parts through the use of the metal 3-D printing technology, which utilizes fused metal deposition to enable high quality rapid prototyping of metal 3-D parts. Another is the capability to quickly and easily transform the design of electronics to professionally printed high-resolution circuit boards through the use of a multi-material precision 3-D electronics printer.
Green Innovation Park technologies
Just as nature interacts with its surroundings, the Green Innovation Park utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning to interact with visitors through an architectural Jebel Monument that blends in with the surrounding rocky landscape. A harmonious integration of landscape, architecture and sustainable technologies, the Green Innovation Park showcases green technologies that both physically and practically compliment nature, and harness the subtlest of renewable potentials, such as a simple breeze.
The park is scattered with various artificial trees such as wind turbine trees, which use biomimicry to capture the rustling of wind through the leaves by the use of small conical wind turbines that imitate leaves and generate electricity from the smallest wind movement. Similarly, carbon capture trees use organic algae to replicate a tree’s ability to improve air quality and reduce pollution while relying on advancements in biotechnology to do so at an amplified rate.
Through its incorporation of state-of-the-art technology, novel solutions, and sustainable design in every aspect, LAB7 stands as an inspirational monument of creativity and exemplifies the true meaning of innovation inside and out. Leading by example, Technical Services has created an inspiring environment built completely on the same values of innovation and human potential, which they seek to unleash throughout the company and beyond.