Digital Transformation Creates Efficiencies in the Chemical Industry

Every change-management consultant knows that effective transformation within a business requires a combination of people, processes, and technology. Global conditions, regulatory concerns, sustainability efforts, and the need to differentiate based on customer service instead of just price are major drivers for the chemical industry to digitally transform itself. The chemical industry operates in a competitive and global environment. Currently it’s experiencing an intensification of trade and geopolitical conflicts, with repercussions to the price of oil. The volatility of raw materials and end products is driving chemical executives to seek visibility across their supply chains to mitigate risks and disruptions.

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Westlake Chemical

Westlake Chemical (NYSE: WLK) is a quality manufacturer and dependable global supplier of petrochemicals, plastics and building products, which in turn make life better for people every day. Employing approximately 9,000 people, Westlake operates from 40 operating locations in 7 countries around the world.

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Chemical Technology

Future-Proofing the Chemical Industry with Digitalization

Article | August 8, 2022

Over the next five to seven years, the chemical sector will place a greater emphasis on sustainability, and digitization will play a significant part in this. Reducing resource use, pollution, energy consumption, and waste are some of its main applications. Additionally, it will increase demand for a circular economy supported by IoT, AI, and other digital technologies. Some of the systems now in place or being used in the sector include autonomous solutions that enable lower energy usage, dispatching systems for effective logistics and strategies for sustainable power and fuel consumption. Chemical players making the switch to digital platforms have a chance to triumph if they move swiftly and update their operational models in accordance with a few common success characteristics. In fact, according to our study, making the correct decisions can increase total earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization by 3 percent or more (EBITDA). The Next Step of Operational Excellence The same level of transformation is available with digital technology for optimal performance, together with success-enabling measures. The same level of corporate participation and realignment will also be necessary for the effective implementation of digital technology. Finance and telecoms were early leaders in adopting digital technology faster than the chemical sector, which has just recently started to move in more significant numbers toward digitalization. A circular economy in the sector is also being enabled by the use and evaluation of digital technology. The "Right to Fix" movement is being driven by governments and legislators in Europe and the US, and small and medium-sized businesses in the industry are expected to invest in technology that makes it easier to repair electronic items with the least amount of waste. On a side note, by enabling the re-use of resources and products throughout the supply chain, digitalization with lean manufacturing (LM) would enable businesses to improve operational excellence and create value, thereby supporting the circular economy goal. Conclusion Given its extensive safety and regulatory requirements, the chemical sector has evolved slowly. However, as the global economy changes, some skills will become obsolete and others essential. The interconnectedness of people, processes, and technology, as well as the requirement for real-time insight at the levels closest to the action, are among the basic principles of Industry 4.0. These values have existed for some time and are an extension of our teams' current operational excellence initiatives. Digital transformation is not a technology endpoint but rather the following stage in the process and business evolution as the chemicals industry advances continuously.

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Chemical Technology

Ways Your Chemical Company Can Benefit From Digitization

Article | July 20, 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. Consumer pull 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. Technology pushes 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. Economic benefits 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.

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Chemical Management

Reimagining the Workforce with Anglo American

Article | July 22, 2021

“At Anglo-American, we’re really focused on finding the best ways to attract the most talented people in the industry and effectively equipping our existing workforce based on what they need today and what the future will mean for their careers. We’re also committed to providing learning opportunities that lead to growth and development in the communities in which we operate. Our people are a strategic advantage. We want to ensure that continues to be the case as the mining industry evolves and faces more disruption.

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Chemical Technology

The Digital Transformation of the Chemical Industry: The Key Trends

Article | August 2, 2022

From novel process technologies to sustainable plastics— the chemical industry is scaling up its digital initiatives. This has opened new doors for organizations to explore opportunities to increase efficiency and streamline the process. Admittedly, the chemical industry has been a little slower in implementing digital transformation. But COVID-19 has vastly increased the momentum of digitization among chemical plants. According to a KPMG survey, 96% of industry CEOs saw digital transformation accelerate in their organizations, with 48 percent saying it advanced by a few years. In addition, according to a recent Manufacturing Leadership Council (MLC) survey, 82% of respondents agreed that the pandemic had "created a new sense of urgency" in driving investment in new technologies and digitalization. Digital transformation solutions offer tremendous potential in the chemical sector. It can play a significant role in driving more value. So let's dig deeper and look at key technologies in bringing digital transformation to the chemical industry. Circular Economy Chemical manufacturers cannot exist within their own four walls any longer. They recognize the importance of working with their customers and other businesses and organizations to conserve resources and protect the environment. Chemical companies may source raw materials from recyclers as part of a circular economy, which necessitates fool proof solutions to confirm their quality and availability. Circular economy consortiums may advocate for reducing environmental threats such as ocean plastics or exposure to hazardous chemicals, opening up new avenues for innovation. Customers are constantly looking for new ways to reduce waste and protect their ecosystems. For example, farmers may benefit from solutions that can instantly analyze soil quality, weather, and crops to determine the best products and schedule for applying fertilizers, crop protectants, or new seeds. Using this data, they use only what they need, generate less waste, and maximize output. Error-Proof Operations Chemical firms are also embracing technology to achieve operational excellence. They've discovered the benefits of using machine learning andIoT technologies to automate standard back-end processes. Technologies such as these reduce the need for human intervention — and thus the possibility of human error. Blockchain technology can also significantly reduce counterfeit chemicals' use, which is especially important for chemical manufacturers who supply products to the pharmaceutical or agricultural industries. In addition, blockchain technology can enable track-and-trace processes that require less work and waste while protecting the enterprise's reputation. Staying Sharp in the Dynamic Market Staying agile in an uncertain M&A environment is a top priority for some businesses. For example, chemical firms must be able to quickly divest assets, adjust portfolios, and adapt operations in response to market changes. Technology can provide executives with the visibility into operations, shipments, and market conditions required to make critical decisions and remain agile. Data Analytics The chemical industry is leveraging cloud-based storage systems to store and share confidential data anytime and anywhere. Additionally, data analytics solutions can analyze all the data effectively to provide valuable insights to the industry. This will help you make meaningful decisions in real-time.

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Spotlight

Westlake Chemical

Westlake Chemical (NYSE: WLK) is a quality manufacturer and dependable global supplier of petrochemicals, plastics and building products, which in turn make life better for people every day. Employing approximately 9,000 people, Westlake operates from 40 operating locations in 7 countries around the world.

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NGOs file suit over transparency of TSCA new chemicals programme

Chemical Watch | March 18, 2020

A coalition of NGOs has sued the US EPA over an alleged lack of transparency in the TSCA new chemicals programme, which "thwart[s] the ability of the public to be informed and to provide input". According to a complaint filed by five environmental nonprofits in federal court today, the EPA has operated its TSCA premanufacture review process in a "black box, denying the public information to which they are legally entitled". Having access to timely information, they contend, is necessary to ensure the members they represent "are able to provide input on the potential risks of new chemicals and the need for protections from those risks prior to completion of EPA’s reviews." And they therefore have asked the court to ensure that the EPA complies with TSCA’s disclosure provisions, including by requiring that it:

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ACC to Trump, governors: Keep chemical industry going during coronavirus crisis

S&P Global | March 18, 2020

The US chemical industry's trade group told President Donald Trump and state governors this week that its sector must maintain operations as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to ensure supply of chemicals needed for disinfectants, plastics for food preservation and medical equipment, and staples like diapers and soap. "The role of chemistry is particularly important today, as chemicals enable countless products that will be needed to support good hygiene and treat those who are infected with the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead," American Chemistry Council President and CEO Chris Jahn said in a letter to Trump and governors late Tuesday. Efforts to hinder the spread of coronavirus have included cancellations of major sporting events, concerts, conferences, parades, and other large gatherings, as well as closures of bars and limiting restaurants to takeout and deliveries. Companies have increasingly sent employees to work from their homes, while hospitals, grocery stores, and drug stores work to keep up with demand for care and products.

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How small chemical company leaders are dealing with the coronavirus

C&EN | March 17, 2020

As measures to contain the coronavirus—SARS-CoV-2—sweep across the US, the heads of privately owned chemical and instrument companies find themselves in uncharted territory trying to keep their companies going and their employees safe. C&EN reached out to CEOs of several such firms to learn what they are doing to keep business moving forward. We heard stories about setbacks, as expected supplies didn’t come through, but also small triumphs, as needed safety equipment was finally found. Overall, these leaders are keeping a close eye on supplies while planning for the real possibility that orders will drop in the coming months. Keeping staff healthy and maintaining continuity in customer service are the top priorities at Boron Specialties. “We are a pretty small facility, seven people &on-site&, so as best as we can we’re isolating,” CEO and founder Beth Bosley says.

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NGOs file suit over transparency of TSCA new chemicals programme

Chemical Watch | March 18, 2020

A coalition of NGOs has sued the US EPA over an alleged lack of transparency in the TSCA new chemicals programme, which "thwart[s] the ability of the public to be informed and to provide input". According to a complaint filed by five environmental nonprofits in federal court today, the EPA has operated its TSCA premanufacture review process in a "black box, denying the public information to which they are legally entitled". Having access to timely information, they contend, is necessary to ensure the members they represent "are able to provide input on the potential risks of new chemicals and the need for protections from those risks prior to completion of EPA’s reviews." And they therefore have asked the court to ensure that the EPA complies with TSCA’s disclosure provisions, including by requiring that it:

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ACC to Trump, governors: Keep chemical industry going during coronavirus crisis

S&P Global | March 18, 2020

The US chemical industry's trade group told President Donald Trump and state governors this week that its sector must maintain operations as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to ensure supply of chemicals needed for disinfectants, plastics for food preservation and medical equipment, and staples like diapers and soap. "The role of chemistry is particularly important today, as chemicals enable countless products that will be needed to support good hygiene and treat those who are infected with the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead," American Chemistry Council President and CEO Chris Jahn said in a letter to Trump and governors late Tuesday. Efforts to hinder the spread of coronavirus have included cancellations of major sporting events, concerts, conferences, parades, and other large gatherings, as well as closures of bars and limiting restaurants to takeout and deliveries. Companies have increasingly sent employees to work from their homes, while hospitals, grocery stores, and drug stores work to keep up with demand for care and products.

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How small chemical company leaders are dealing with the coronavirus

C&EN | March 17, 2020

As measures to contain the coronavirus—SARS-CoV-2—sweep across the US, the heads of privately owned chemical and instrument companies find themselves in uncharted territory trying to keep their companies going and their employees safe. C&EN reached out to CEOs of several such firms to learn what they are doing to keep business moving forward. We heard stories about setbacks, as expected supplies didn’t come through, but also small triumphs, as needed safety equipment was finally found. Overall, these leaders are keeping a close eye on supplies while planning for the real possibility that orders will drop in the coming months. Keeping staff healthy and maintaining continuity in customer service are the top priorities at Boron Specialties. “We are a pretty small facility, seven people &on-site&, so as best as we can we’re isolating,” CEO and founder Beth Bosley says.

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