Strata Manufacturing is an advanced composite aerostructures manufacturing business, wholly owned by Mubadala Investment in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
In the ten years since it was founded, Strata has created partnerships with leading aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing and Leonardo. The company is also a tier one supplier to Piatus and Saab. Ismail Ali Abdulla moved from deputy CEO to CEO a year ago and has led the company through the huge challenges brought by COVID-19.
Abdulla said is was important to keep “a positive state of mind” in an uncertain climate, emphasising that manufacturing commitments were still being fulfilled in accordance with social distancing measures and regulations which put the safety of Strata’s employees first.
Strata plays a part in Abu Dhabi’s vision to create a knowledge economy by the year 2030. Within the past decade, the company has grown from one production line to over 13 and from secondary structures to primary structure.
“Success story” is Strata’s workforce
But Abdulla said growth wasn’t just about the parts manufactured, it was also about developing the skills of the people within the workforce. “The success story is actually not only building the facility and buying the machine, because you can replicate that anywhere in the world,” he explained.
He added: “Today, our monetization rate stands at 60 per cent. Out of which, for every one male UAE national, we have nine ladies. And this is something unique for the industry, not only on the local level, but also on the international level.”
Manufacturing is an area where there is an increasing shift towards the digitisation of technologies such as 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Abdullah explained how Strata is already using additive manufacturing to transform and reshape its processes.
One of the largest 3D print facilities in the region
He said: “We have prioritised a number of key technologies that we believe will shape the future of the industry. In terms of manufacturing, we are talking about additive manufacturing, we have a number of printing machines actually, we have one of the largest printing machines here in the region. And we have started applying and supplying some of the production lines with consumable parts that are used to manufacture the larger work packages or aerostructures.”
The company is also using AI to help it make real-time decisions both on the shop floor and within engineering which will help the company to get more connected with the supply chain. He said: “I believe that with machine learning we will be able to establish a connected web when it comes to orders when it comes to delivery of the parts required.”
A long term view of COVID recovery
Abdullah remains optimistic about COVID-19 recovery within the next three to five years, taking a long term to the developing middle income class within India and China.
“Travel was beyond luxury for them was not attainable. Tight now, and in the near future, travel will be attainable. And it will be something that probably a lot of people want to do. So, from our perspective, there is a requirement for anywhere between 50,000 to 40,000 aircraft over the next 2025 years long here. The industry is strong. And I believe that we will go back to the four plus percent growth within the next three, three and a half years.”
Within the From The Top series, we ask industry leaders what keeps them awake at night – and forward momentum is the last thing on the Strata CEO’s mind:
“I always think about what should we do in order to continue to pivot in order to continue to navigate through the next couple of years? What are the opportunities where we can utilise the knowledge that we were able to accumulate and build over the last 10 years and utilise all those capabilities to enter into new markets.”