The digital future of chemical companies

Posted December 25, 2020 by tomlee01

From new technology to sustainable plastics, the chemical industry is undergoing profound changes.
From new technology to sustainable plastics, the chemical industry is undergoing profound changes. Today, the digital transformation of chemicals presents a huge and basically untapped new potential, which can not only improve efficiency, but also help enterprises design novel products and processes.

Potential of realizing digital transformation of chemicals

Advances in networks and sensors, data availability and processing, engineering and materials technology have considerable potential to expand the efficiency and productivity of the chemical industry. But the digital transformation of chemicals also provides important opportunities for increasing innovation in products and solutions. For example, a digital crowdsourcing platform can be used to conceive how to reduce the carbon footprint in the product life cycle.

In order to realize the potential of digital transformation, chemical companies need a common framework to evaluate the current state, define the expected future state, and formulate specific steps in the digital journey. The company's digital maturity stage will guide strategic decisions and action steps in five dimensions that are critical to growth:

User experience

Talent support

Asset reliability and performance

Material system innovation


A framework will help the team assess how far the company has gone on the digital maturity spectrum and what steps are needed to achieve the desired goals in the digital journey.

The future of digital chemicals: three pillars

The success of chemical companies in preparing for the future depends on their performance and reactions in three key areas today:

Growth and Innovation: disruptions in automotive, construction, agriculture and other end use industries create opportunities and challenges for the chemical industry. For example, while relatively novel technologies, such as additive manufacturing, are currently being demonstrated, they are not yet fully commercialized in many applications from engineering components to housing construction, but may generate demand for new materials, and they may reduce the consumption of traditional chemicals and materials. Most chemical companies are already reassessing their future growth strategies, including consideration of digital value-added services to supplement existing product offerings.

Performance and cost optimization: the next phase of using digital technology to optimize performance should go far beyond the factory and be easy to integrate with physical assets. For example, new digital technologies, such as blockchain and predictive analytics, can be easily integrated with existing Internet of things (IOT) infrastructure to achieve tracking and tracking capabilities. Some refinery scale plants have adopted new technologies such as crude oil to chemicals.

Sustainable development and circular economy: to address regulatory restrictions on disposable plastics and microplastics, chemical companies are working with customers to launch new products, invest in recycling technologies, and incorporate renewable and recyclable materials into their growing product portfolio. Chemical manufacturers need to bring together stakeholders of product innovation and technology commercialization with redesign thinking.

Common framework for solving digital problems, simplifying investment decisions and focusing on high impact projects

In order to take full advantage of digital transformation, an enterprise wide digital strategy is usually needed, which can be refined into customizable components suitable for the needs of various business departments. This digital strategy should also be combined with the digital Maturity Model - where the organization is now and where it wants to be once the digital transformation is complete.

The common framework for addressing each phase of the digital journey should span five key dimensions:

User experience - use customer analysis and needs to gain insight into customer trends.

Talent support - enhancing the capabilities of the workforce through the use of cognitive tools such as artificial intelligence (AI), wearable devices, augmented reality, and robotic process automation.

Use advanced digital technologies, such as Internet of things, remote monitoring and artificial intelligence, to enhance asset reliability.

Material systems innovation - the use of digital transformation to enhance research and development activities, such as process modeling software, with an emphasis on optimizing material and energy flows in chemical plants.

Ecosystem - actively participate in the value chain through cooperation, share demand forecasts, better manage the supply chain, and commercialize new products.

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Issued By Elynn
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Categories Agriculture
Tags chemical companies
Last Updated December 25, 2020