On March 19, 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, the chemical industry was deemed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to be an “Essential Infrastructure … critical to public health and safety, economic and national security.”
Three months later, some have already forgotten how essential the chemical industry is to the U.S. and global economies. But consider the following data, which illustrate the vital role the industry plays in the creation of local and global products that make our lives healthier, safer, more sustainable and more productive.
- The U.S. chemical industry supports over 25% of the nation’s GDP.1
- The global chemical industry contributed nearly $5.7 trillion (7%) to world GDP in 2017.2
- Over 96% of all U.S. manufacturing goods are directly touched by the chemical industry.1
While the global pandemic has tested manufacturers in this critically important industry, it has also taught them how to navigate huge shifts in demand, supply, workforce and economics. By embracing advanced digital technologies with new urgency, chemical companies can employ new strategies to improve agility, resiliency and sustainability.
Optimize Production with APC Technology
Advanced Process Control (APC) technology is a critical piece of any digitalization strategy. APC stabilizes operations within a new target range as demand varies, integrating capabilities of assets to find optimal operating conditions. For many units, this optimization can be done dynamically to ensure operational efficiency, even at low rates.
Adapt Process to Meet Variable Needs
Digital twin technology creates virtualized copies of existing assets to define new production boundaries and potential alternate sites — while integrating safety limits and cost concerns. As operations remain highly variable, digital twins can also help bring plants online faster and train operators to deal with potential issues.
Improve Product Quality with Insights from Data
Multivariate analysis identifies causes of process variability and targets the optimum conditions to improve product quality, yield and throughput. It can be particularly valuable when market volatility shifts operations to new and unexpected regimes.
Develop Agile Production Planning
Plant staff can leverage tools that enable quick reviews of alternate operating and supply scenarios to help staff make more informed decisions for better business outcomes. Enhanced collaboration tools improve communication between teams working remotely to boost individual and team productivity across supply chains and operations, even as market expectations rapidly change.
To read more on digitalization strategies and the ways AspenTech can help chemical companies optimize their assets by running safer, greener, longer and faster, download our recent white paper on building resilience, agility and recovery for the chemical industry.
1 The Business of Chemistry by the Numbers, American Chemistry Council, June 2020
2 The International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA), March 2019