Article | June 6, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Article | July 20, 2022
TEN YEARS AGO, fellowblogger Paul Hodgesand Ifirst highlighted the leading rolethat changing demographics would play in reshaping petrochemicals supply and demand. We have been emphasising the importance of demographics ever since.
Demographics have, of course, always been a critical shaper of economies throughout human history. But during the last 70 years, there have been such major changes in demographics that the study of demographics must be at the very heart of your company’s strategy.
The Babyboomer generation in the West led to a surge in demand as the rapid increase in babies born in the 1950s and early 1960s joined the workforce from the 1970s onwards.
This helps explain high levels of inflation during that decade because too much demand was chasing too little supply. Another driver of inflation was the Middle East embargos against oil exports to the West because of the West’s support for Israel.
Then came the 1990s and first the integration of Eastern Europe into the global economy. This helped dampen inflationary pressures because of the plentiful supply of workers in the east willing to work for low wages in export-focused factories. This reduced the cost of finished goods in the West.
Next came Deng Xiaoping’s critically important“southern tour”in the early 1990s and China’s gradual integration into the global economy. China increasingly leveraged its very youthful population to again make cheap goods to export to the West.
Hundreds of millions of young people were willing to migrate from the countryside to China’s coastal cities to work in export-focused manufacturing plants. The world began to talk about the “China price” and how it was further depressing global inflation.
Article | July 8, 2022
The market size for polymeric and resin binders in the global printing ink marketwas estimated to be over 1,200,000 MT in 2020, with a CAGR of about five percent. A major driver of this growth comes from the packaging industry, due to increases in consumer spending and online shopping, as well as demand for processed and packaged foods and beverages.
In addition, increased use of water-based inks is promoting market growth, off-setting environmental and health concerns regarding solvent-based inks in addition to strict environmental protection policies. Water-based inks are projected to overtake solvent-based inks due to environmental regulations, the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the pressroom, and improvements in overall print quality.
Ink formulations are complex mixtures, consisting of four basic component classes: pigments, polymeric binder resins, solvents or an aqueous dispersant media, and additives, such as surfactants, waxes, and rheology modifiers that enhance print quality. The purpose of the resin binder is to disperse and carry the ink pigment to the substrate, stabilize the pigment and additives dispersion to prevent settling, and provide print properties such as ink transfer behavior, setting, and drying characteristics. The binder also contributes surface appearance and gloss, strength and flexibility, chemical and solvent resistance, and also rub resistance. Ink binders can be categorized into the following polymer and resin types: acrylics, polyurethanes, polyamides, modified resins, hydrocarbon resins, and modified cellulosics.
Article | June 29, 2021
POLYMER BUYERS outside northeast (NEA) and southeast Asia (SEA) have a big opportunity to save millions of dollars on procurement costs during the rest of this year through purchasing more from the two regions.The opportunity has arisen because I believe that NEA and SEA polymer prices will remain very cheap relative to most of the world until at least the end of 2021.
NEA comprises China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Our definition of the SEA region is Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.NEA and SEA producers can also make a lot of money by constantly monitoring and acting on strong arbitrage opportunities in other regions.
As supply disruptions in the US look likely to continue, Europe and South & Central America seem particularly good opportunities for both buyers and producers.Before we discuss why I see NEA and SEA remaining cheap relative to most of the rest of the world until at least the end of the year, let us consider in more detail the size of the prize, starting with the resin buyers.