Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion drive in the chem­i­cal in­dus­try

Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East - - EDITOR’S COMMENT - Martin Me­nach­ery Edi­tor Re­fin­ing & Petro­chem­i­cals Mid­dle East martin.me­nach­[email protected]

Re­cently, I mod­er­ated a round­table or­gan­ised by Re­fin­ing &

Petro­chem­i­cals Mid­dle East on ‘Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion as a Key En­abler in Chem­i­cal Plants of the Fu­ture’, in Dubai.

The round­table was at­tended by Ali Vez­vaei, pres­i­dent and CEO, Bil­fin­ger Mid­dle East; Chris­tian Cravedi, se­nior vice pres­i­dent, IMEA hub BU man­ager, oil, gas and chem­i­cals, ABB; Fadi Matar, di­rec­tor, pub­lic af­fairs and gov­ern­ment af­fairs, In­dia, Mid­dle East, Africa and Turkey, Dow Chem­i­cal; Fady Sleiman, global chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer, Petro­fac; Imre Csoti, vice pres­i­dent, on­shore op­er­a­tions, MENA, Mcder­mott; Ishaq Mo­hamed Al-sarhni, gen­eral man­ager – en­gi­neer­ing, Duqm Re­fin­ery; and Naji Masri, head of strat­egy and con­trol­ling, Mid­dle East, BASF.

The round­table dis­cussed the themes of the ‘Key Role that Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion Plays in the De­sign, En­gi­neer­ing, Con­struc­tion and Com­mis­sion­ing of a Chem­i­cal Plant’, ‘How does dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion op­ti­mise op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency in a chem­i­cal plant?’, and ‘Cre­at­ing a Sus­tain­able, Hse-com­pli­ant, Volatil­ity-man­age­able and Prof­itable Chem­i­cal Plant, Us­ing Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion So­lu­tions’.

At the round­table, while Chris­tian Cravedi ex­plained why the role of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion is crit­i­cal in com­plex chem­i­cal projects, Fadi Matar talked about the chal­lenges faced by the Mid­dle East­ern chem­i­cal com­pa­nies in dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion in their projects. Ali Vez­vaei elab­o­rated on the key changes that dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion can bring in the mega projects in the chem­i­cal in­dus­try. Imre Csoti de­scribed the ad­van­tages of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in the man­age­ment of mega projects. While Fady Sleiman gave an over­view of the lat­est trends in dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, Ishaq Mo­hamed Al-sarhni ex­plained how dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion can help in the smart man­age­ment of en­gi­neer­ing chal­lenges in mega projects. Naji Masri por­trayed the acu­men, re­source­ful­ness and in­volve­ment of the Mid­dle East­ern chem­i­cal in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als in the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion.

One of the key ad­van­tages of dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion is knowl­edge man­age­ment. Knowl­edge man­age­ment is some­thing that every­body has strug­gled with in the past. How do you take what is in the brains of ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple and get it in to the minds of younger em­ploy­ees? With the de­vel­op­ments in dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, chem­i­cal in­dus­try can ac­tu­ally do a good job on this front. Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion is the best tool to make the tran­si­tion of knowl­edge from highly ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­a­tors to the new mil­len­ni­als.

Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, and the con­ver­gence of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and op­er­a­tional tech­nol­ogy can un­lock a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing the op­er­a­tions phase of a chem­i­cal plant. Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion could also be used for fur­ther im­prov­ing safety, pro­duc­tiv­ity and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, and to drive the over­all equip­ment ef­fec­tive­ness of pro­duc­tion in chem­i­cal plants to get en­hanced up­time and re­duced down­time.

It is pro­jected that in the global chem­i­cal in­dus­try, an­nu­ally $20bn is lost be­cause of down­time. If some­thing wrong is go­ing on a plant, the project man­agers can im­me­di­ately re­trieve the data us­ing dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion tools for the ven­dor who has supplied the par­tic­u­lar in­stru­ment in fault and ad­vise the op­er­a­tors what pa­ram­e­ter is to be changed and that in­te­gra­tion can be done with a man­ual in­ter­ven­tion. Data is trans­ferred dig­i­tally but a hu­man el­e­ment with knowl­edge about the sys­tem can in­ter­vene with it im­me­di­ately.

Cur­rently, many or­gan­i­sa­tions are spend­ing more money on soft­ware than hard­ware. Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion so­lu­tions are re­defin­ing how an en­ter­prise col­lab­o­rate with its sup­pli­ers and cus­tomers. These so­lu­tions em­power the in­dus­try to im­prove busi­ness per­for­mance and prof­itabil­ity through the plant life­cy­cle. Re­al­time ap­pli­ca­tions, truly in­te­grated ap­proach and pow­er­ful sim­u­la­tion tools of­fered by dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion so­lu­tions en­sure op­ti­mised pro­duc­tion, en­hanced de­ci­sion-mak­ing power and im­proved de­signs. In­te­grated sim­u­la­tion en­vi­ron­ment pro­vided by dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion so­lu­tions en­ables busi­nesses to meet chal­lenges of to­day and to­mor­row. Ef­fec­tive use of these so­lu­tions is fast be­com­ing a ‘nor­mal’ in the world­wide chem­i­cal in­dus­try land­scape for bet­ter man­u­fac­tur­ing and busi­ness prac­tices, as well as de­ci­sion­mak­ing pro­cesses.

The Mid­dle East­ern chem­i­cal in­dus­try is at the be­gin­ning stage of the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney. It is clear that the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion drive de­pends a lot on ex­ter­nal el­e­ments like gov­er­nance and cost el­e­ment rather than the avail­abil­ity of tech­nol­ogy be­cause state-of the-art tech­nolo­gies are avail­able in the re­gion. What is evolv­ing is the strat­egy to find out the best way of do­ing things through dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion in the chem­i­cal in­dus­try.

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