Article | July 14, 2022
The chemical business is intricate, with numerous sub-sectors dealing with various challenges. Thus, there are some differences in the sector's main areas of digitalization. For instance, while specialty chemicals with smaller batches but larger profit margins are concerned with improving quality, large factories are concentrated on accelerating throughput speed.
To be able to react to quick and repeated changes in demand, supply, and working circumstances, however, every plant must optimize output, reduce waste, improve safety and sustainability, and become more nimble. Therefore, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing are expected to be the three most popular applications for digital transformation during the coming two years.
The first and most valuable use cases of digitalization in chemical plants center on production optimization through improved equipment performance, process automation, remote and predictive monitoring, and simplified maintenance.
Chemical factories, which often provide basic chemicals for use as end products in other sectors, have a special responsibility to maintain consistently high product quality. However, doing so can be challenging given the significant variations in raw material supply and quality. In addition, as process engineers can change the mix on the fly in reaction to fluctuations in quality, feedstock, or ambient temperatures, better data and analytics enable finer and more frequent adjustments.
The main advantage of digitally transformed plants so far has been cost reduction. The price volatility of raw materials is a problem for the chemical production sector because customers naturally want constant low prices. Minimizing waste is critical since facilities must contend with rising energy costs.
Analytics tools that monitor fluctuating raw material prices aid factories in negotiating the best deals with suppliers and preparing in advance for price spikes. The risk of oversupply is reduced since plants can prepare the proper quantities of various products thanks to more precise demand predictions.
Sustainability, Compliance, and Safety
The chemical industry is heavily regulated as a result of the quantity of hazardous chemicals and the number of end-use industries that rely on it. Businesses are adopting digital transformation to boost safety awareness, reduce emissions and dangerous flare incidents, and guarantee a transparent and accurate audit trail.
Plants that quickly adopt digital solutions for remote monitoring, supply chain visibility, waste reduction, production optimization, raising their safety profile, and opening up new opportunities will profit from higher profits and increased revenue, whereas those that hesitate for too long risk failing in the long run.
Article | August 2, 2022
The chemical industry is evolving. The marketing, purchasing, and selling of chemicals are being affected by forces in the market, with digitization unquestionably having the most significant impact. Many of the existing digitizing models have likely already been given some thought and then rejected.
Chemical businesses are currently conducting pilot projects or starting to gradually scale up their digital initiatives after moving past the proof-of-concept stage. Although this past year brought many difficulties, it also provided an opportunity to revise and re-evaluate foundations moving forward. The Great Reset, as the World Economic Forum has dubbed this time period, is illuminating how the chemical industry might leverage digital technologies to advance.
Whether prompted by governmental requirements or consumer desires, chemical businesses' net-zero ambitions will necessitate new expenditures throughout the whole chemical value chain. As a result, back-office costs must be as efficient as possible to free up money to pay for those investments while keeping a profit.
The most essential requirements for the success of a new product are a solid understanding of customer needs and wants, the competitive climate, and the makeup of the market. The primary factors that influence the needs of the consumer are price, timing, and quality. Therefore, companies create ongoing procedures and plans with these three factors in mind to better serve client needs and grow their market share by regularly creating new products.
The influence of digital technology is constantly growing. One of the foundational elements of 21st-century sources of growth is data-driven innovation. There are numerous items and procedures in the history of innovation that were the result of an accident or careful forethought. Vast volumes of data, or "big data," are being produced and used as a result of the convergence of numerous phenomena, including the growing migration of socio-economic activities on the Internet and the decline in the cost of data collecting, storage, and processing.
Large data sets are becoming an essential resource for the economy, supporting the development of new markets, procedures, and goods while also generating substantial competitive advantages. For example, a billion customers can now access broadband at a reasonable price because of the digital world's supporting infrastructure. In addition, cloud computing and the enormous amount of information processing equipment it needs are developing swiftly, and low-cost connected gadgets are being introduced into every industry.
The financial gains that can be realized through digitization are genuine. The new digital technologies and businesses have seen an influx of cash, and the public markets are rewarding early adopters with record values. The effects of digitization are spreading swiftly throughout every business. Digitization is the changing of life and work as a result of new technologies, not only their acceptance. Much like earlier technologies, modern emerging technologies like the cloud and big data quickly become part of businesses' operations. Unknown to many, this is having a much more significant impact on the industry that makes these tools as well as on customers.
Digitalization that derives from and includes strategic business objectives can greatly benefit chemical firms. Cost savings of roughly 30 to 40 percent can already be made on average today. Additionally, in certain situations, digitalization aided in improving service quality and affected the bottom line by, for instance, enabling new business models. On average, platform-driven digitization projects pay off after 18 months.
Article | June 11, 2021
Cybersecurity concerns must be considered in order for the chemical sector to succeed with digital commerce; simply listing your products on an online store and crossing your fingers won't cut it. It is crucial to pick a spouse who is aware of these hazards and has a strong defense in place. It is evident that the sector has massive potential for online sales, but selling chemicals online is different from selling common consumer goods online. Who your consumers are and how you gather and maintain data about them raise severe security and privacy problems.
Chemical company leaders have every right to be concerned about the privacy of their data, given that one cyber attack occurs every 11 seconds. However, they should still go online because there is too much business risk in not taking advantage of the digital opportunity.
Deloitte estimates that the chemical sector alone sold over $27 billion worth of goods online in 2020.
More than half (58%) of chemical purchasers reportedly stated that they would transfer providers if their demands, which include demands for a fantastic digital experience, were not delivered.
The objective is to limit risk and create a secure digital sales environment rather than dismissing e-commerce due to cybersecurity issues.
Setting up the appropriate IT infrastructure: Building for convenience and security is possible thanks to new IT technologies.
Emphasis on confirming identification: Always be aware of who you are dealing with, regardless of whether they came through a digital or physical means.
Offering simple (and safe) reorder alternatives to clients that have been verified.
It's ideal for business owners in the chemical sector who want to test selling online but are concerned about data collecting, security, and privacy for my company and customers.
Article | July 22, 2021
Petrochemical stocks plunged worldwide on 19 July ahead of the Q2 earnings season. The declines were consistent with those in economically sensitive sectors such as steel, copper, automotive and housing,” wrote my ICIS colleague, Joseph Chang, in this Insight article.