(59h) Regarding Applying Industry 4.0 Technologies across the Value Chain of Chemical Processing Industry Production Plants | AIChE

(59h) Regarding Applying Industry 4.0 Technologies across the Value Chain of Chemical Processing Industry Production Plants

During the last decade digitalization has made breakthroughs in various aspects of our private and professional lives. Today`s chemical engineers are looking at their smart phones and advances in discreet manufacturing industries wondering where chemical processing industries will get to in a couple of years, once we complete our own digital transformation reaching for Industry 4.0.

Relevant to each industry there is a digital thread going through specific business areas; be it research and development where chemical scientists work with commercial, academic and open source software tools like LAMMPS and Mathlab running molecular simulations on high performance cloud computing platforms in order to discover new formulations, reactions and molecule level chemical components to be produced at chemical sites; or in marketing where digital market places bring customer-specific value to the screens and lives of our end-customers in construction, life science, automotive, agriculture, and other high added value industries. These two example areas, already highly digitalized, connect to operational production plants, that are lagging with regards to digitalization, thus leaving space for improvement when considering the complete digital thread. The connection points from R&D to operations are clear when it comes to manufacturing operations management and from there to customer relationship management when leaving operations and entering the commercial space. In addition to just operations, it`s beneficial to look at maintenance, supply chain and engineering spaces as well when implementing 4.0 in a holistic way that maximizes the gains and breaks down organizational and technical silos in chemical processing industries.

One possible reason for lower grade of digitalization in operations might be the long investment cycles and the physical quantities of assets and systems installed in the field compared to other industries. It`s somehow easier to revamp and reinvent oneself in consumer packaged goods, heavy machinery, automotive and aerospace industries. The operations and engineering spaces in these industries have already invested in digital twins to reach the next level in collaboration, data integrity, value chain integration, quality and requirement management. Each specific industry uses concepts relevant to its own business models and that is key when enabling improvements in time-to-market, optimization, system performance, cost reduction and in the overall capability to build and utilize physical production capability according to plan. Same must be true for chemical processing industries as well.

In this abstract I will have a look at the value chain of chemical processing plants identifying application areas for 4.0 technologies such as digital twins. The focus will be on structured and open data models that break down stand-alone and isolated knowledge silos - in effect integrating the value chains; the use of multiple digital twins as controlled copies handling business critical information for data-based business management; the continuous assessment of the correct technologies and technology levels to be implemented for each business relevant area; and both business and site level consulting on industry 4.0 until maturity is reached and digitalization is business as usual in the chemical processing industries.


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