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Abil­ity

of tech­nol­ogy to im­prove de­ci­sion-mak­ing and drive prof­itabil­ity in global chem­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing will be crit­i­cal, as per ABB, one of the lead­ers in the field of au­toma­tion.

Chem­i­cal in­dus­try is likely to face more chal­leng­ing con­di­tions over the next decade as un­cer­tainty and dis­par­ity of per­for­mance are ev­i­dent through­out the in­dus­try, re­ports ABB, in its white pa­per on ‘Trans­form­ing Chem­i­cal Op­er­a­tions Through Tech­nol­ogy’.

The re­port states that the chem­i­cal in­dus­try is at an im­por­tant stage of trans­for­ma­tion and ex­plores the ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal chal­lenges which can be ad­dressed through dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion.

In an un­cer­tain macroe­co­nomic en­vi­ron­ment and an in­dus­try with sig­nif­i­cant pro­duc­tion and ge­og­ra­phy-re­lated com­plex­ity, chem­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers should in­vest in dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and ad­vanced an­a­lyt­ics to help them har­ness their data for max­i­mum per­for­mance.

Dr. Zied M. Ouer­tani, Dig­i­tal Lead, Chem­i­cals and Re­fin­ing for ABB’s In­dus­trial Au­toma­tion Oil Gas and Chem­i­cals Busi­ness Unit, says, “The com­plex na­ture of chem­i­cal pro­duc­tion ren­ders op­ti­mal de­ci­sion-mak­ing par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult. The num­ber of vari­ables to process for max­i­mum per­for­mance are enor­mous. In ad­di­tion to volatile costs and prices, chem­i­cals can be made in many ways to achieve the same out­put. Chal­lenges also vary by re­gion.”

ABB sug­gests that lead­ers must move quickly or risk be­ing sur­passed by com­peti­tors, who em­brace the full po­ten­tial of digi­ti­sa­tion to trans­form op­er­a­tions at the de­vice, process, plant and en­ter­prise level.

Dr. Ouer­tani adds, “Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, done well, al­lows chem­i­cal com­pa­nies to get a highly gran­u­lar view of their as­sets which, when viewed in con­junc­tion with data from more tra­di­tional busi­ness sys­tems, can gen­er­ate quicker and bet­ter in­sights to drive com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

“But com­pa­nies will need to em­brace dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion on a big­ger, much more holis­tic scale en­com­pass­ing end-to-end pro­cesses through­out plants and across the sup­ply chain – not just in iso­lated pock­ets of change.”

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