Chemical Industry’s Digital Evolution: Embracing Transformation

chemical industry

From the moment technology started infiltrating offices at a fast pace across various trades, organisations acknowledged its potential and many started adopting more of it within their daily processes until they switched to digital. The need to switch became even more apparent when the last global pandemic hit, as everyone went online with homeworking and Zoom meetings becoming a common thing.

From small businesses to conglomerates, switching to digitisation represented the natural way forward for their commerce to bloom, by simplifying procedures, increase reach, interacting with clients, enhance marketing and leveraging on income, the advantages are tangible.

As we will see, switching to digital will benefit even the chemical industries, yielding growth and profit as there exist a myriad of opportunities and potentials. Let`s delve deeper to see how chemical industries will flourish by switching for the digital realm.

Research and Development

When we talk about the chemical industry we can`t omit their prime areas of interest namely research and development, as they usually go in tandem.

Businesses in this sector are in fact focusing their digitilisation specifically on these zones. Here are some interesting examples:

Digital Twin – Virtual process or product made of simulators, models and algorithms, which yields the targeted result before it is actually processed, avoiding unnecessary time and money spent on the real thing. A very helpful tool.

Document Management Systems – In R&D almost everything needs to be documented which can be very time consuming, thus this tool would speed up the process, eliminate paperwork which takes up space and reduce human error which could result in misinterpretation.

Networking – A new product will involve several departments within the business which could be far from each other especially within conglomerates. Thus networking, virtual or online meetings will enable faster brainstorming sessions while leaving individuals at their desks, as there is no need for them to travel.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Chat GPT is one example of AI here, but similar tools would enable a faster automated evaluation, analysis and interpretation of any tests as needed. Machine learning can be linked with this too, as by time this tool can support R&D by generating pitches for the manufacture of say new recipes.

Internet of Things (IoT) – This links the virtual world to the real world, and a well-known example is the smart fridge, which by its sensors detects and advises what missing items need to be bought, or automatically orders them via the internet. In our case the IoT allows for the digital reporting of changes to physical objects within R&D.

Chemical Production

Digital tools aren`t restricted for a company`s R&D only though, as even in production digitilisation can provide options, support and automation which lightens the workload while it increases efficiency.

Predictive Maintenance – Digital tools detect and fix issues beforehand preventing failures, giving the business time to react while preventing the interruption of production.

Augmented Reality (AR) – Getting machines back up and running is crucial. This tool enables troubleshooting fast, simplifying maintenance and repair work as most of the time a technical expert can examine, evaluate and suggest even remotely.

Real-time Monitoring – It is paramount that raw materials are combined correctly. Automated monitoring would ease the workload during production as digitilisation would enable live monitoring of goods, mixtures and final products.

Robotics – Appropriate utilisation of robots will reduce human error for a more seamless and continuous routine, while employees are saving time from those particular recurring tasks, dedicating it instead towards alternative elevated quality of work.

Chemical Supply Chain

You guessed right, digitilisation can be also applied in this area, and here are two examples.

Real-time Tracking – A chemical company can utilise digital tools to track its supply and monitor location of goods and shipping.

Traceability – If a company encounters a time-consuming scenario like a recall, it would be a nightmare to effect it manually. Digitalisation simplifies the process as all the data is stored in the system and can be accessed with a couple of clicks. 

Digital Security & Data Protection

The safeguarding of data is crucial and going digital can provide options in the form of Cloud storage and solutions. Businesses need to do their homework and planning well before investing in this digital gear to make sure their sensitive information is well protected and can be easily accessed by authorised personnel on demand.

Having said that this doesn`t mean excluding insurance, especially for those chemical industries handling hazardous chemicals or materials, but also in general and across the board it always makes sense to cover your investment while backing your company and staff.

Typical Challenges

Switching to digital will surely find some sort of resistance, like the typical “it was always done this way”, while due to the introduction of automated processes some employees will feel that their job is at risk.

Digitisation though cannot be stopped and it`s the new way forward as competition never sleeps.

Some hints:

  • Management is to be actively convinced, involved and dedicated for the digital switch to happen, encouraging employees by listing benefits
  • Streamline an end-to-end strategy
  • Involve all stakeholders
  • Provide training

In Conclusion

It is evident that digitilisation is the new trend as technology is being utilised and applied more across the board, so much so that it has become the way to go for many businesses if they don`t want to lag behind, and by now we know that this also applies for the chemical industry.

Stubbornly staying put insisting with old methods or opting to remain analogue would only mean losing on big opportunities the cyberworld has to offer, while it will surely be a disadvantage when compared to the direct competition which is thriving by obtaining all the valuable assistance from going digital.

Smart chemical industries switching to digital are on the rise, and rightly so since it is the way forward for any company to remain relevant, actively marketing, and competing on a level playing field against its adversaries within their common niche, while ultimately leveraging on revenue.