Artificial Intelligence and the Chemical Industry’s Rebound from COVID-19

It should come as no surprise that the Chemical Manufacturing Industry, like all industries, has experienced quite a shake up this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Global supply chain disruption, erratic spikes and lulls in demand, operational constraints and the nature of on-site jobs are just a few of many obstacles that the Chemicals industry faced as a result of the pandemic.

Let’s consider some chemical industry statistics that frame the impacts of these constraints on the global economy…


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics from data in September 2020, Chemical Manufacturing companies employ roughly 838,000 people in the United States alone, of that 838k roughly 524,000 are production and nonsupervisory employees.

The below figures are according to statista.com: 

In 2019, the Chemical Industry represented a total worldwide revenue of roughly 3.94 trillion U.S. dollars, with China controlling a 35.8% share of the revenue.

The leading Global Manufacturer of Chemicals, based on a revenue of approximately 65.3 billion U.S. dollars, was German chemical company, BASF. They were also the leaders in the category of global employment with approximately 118,280 employees.

In the United Kingdom the chemical and pharmaceuticals industry represent the second largest industry and a significantly important part of the national economy.


Based on this small sample of statistics alone, it is very clear to see that the Chemical Manufacturing Industry represents a significant part of our global economy. The good news is that as we learn more about the virus and find creative strategies to combat it, including artificial intelligence applied in various ways, we are already starting to see the Global Chemical Production rebounding from some pretty significant losses.


Percent change in chemical production due to COVID-19 worldwide 
between January 2020 and August 2020, by region 
GIObal 
Africa & 
Middle 
East 
Chile 
Latin 
America 
Mexico 
North 
America 
India 
China 
Asia. 
Pacific 
Former 
Soviet 
union 
Belgium 
Italy 
France 
Europe 
January 
2020 to 
Februa ry 
-2.1% 
0.1% 
2.3% 
-0.4% 
-0.1% 
-6.4% 
-3.7% 
-0.9% 
0.5% 
February 
2020 to 
March 
-3.3% 
0.2% 
-2.5% 
-1.1% 
-7.2% 
-8.3% 
-5.4% 
2% 
-0.8% 
-2.1% 
0.2% 
March 
2020 to 
April 
0.1% 
-8% 
-3.4% 
-2.9% 
-2.6% 
-15.9% 
1% 
-0.4% 
-0.1% 
-5% 
-4.2% 
-2.3% 
April 
2020 to 
May 
-0.5% 
-0.9% 
-10.2% 
-4.9% 
-6.5% 
-2.3% 
-13.7% 
4.8% 
1% 
-3.3% 
-3.9% 
-3.1% 
May 
2020 to 
June 
2020 
1.6% 
-1.2% 
-6.7% 
-3.2% 
-1.9% 
1.1% 
6.5% 
3.3% 
3.7% 
0.9% 
0.2% 
June 
2020 to L 
July 
1.7% 
0.3% 
-1.9% 
0.5% 
-1.1% 
1% 
17.6% 
2.1% 
1.7% 
1.9% 
2.8% 
5% 
3.2% 
3% 
July 2020 
August • 
2020 
2.7% 
2.9% 
4% 
0.9% 
10.3% 
3.3% 
2.9% 
1.3% 
2.6% 
4.9% 
1.7% 
3.6%
Source: Statista

Global production is rebounding slowly, but surely, with a 2.7% uptick in production from July of 2020 to August of 2020 with the most significant increase coming from India after a pretty difficult downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rebound in this industry is pivotal to the health of our global economy, as illustrated by the statistics above which represent how important chemical manufacturing is.

What steps have the Chemical Manufacturers taken in order to begin rebounding quickly and contributing to our global economy?


Many Chemical Manufacturers have turned to Artificial Intelligence and Digitization in order to combat challenges presented by COVID-19 whether they are applying these technologies to part of their process or to their entire estate.

Let’s take the international race to find a vaccine as an example. Many corporations have worked together to use Artificial Intelligence to rapidly increase the ability to find a treatment. Dan Drapeau, Head of Technology at Blue Fountain Media, has posited that Artificial Intelligence, when applied in the capacity of finding a vaccine, has become “a necessity right now, because we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and it’s vital for us to figure out a solution or vaccine therapy as soon as possible.

Mefuparib 
PARPI 
SARS-cov-2 
Toremifene 
Viral RNA 
NSP14 
RNA-dependent 
RNA polymerase 
Dexamethasone 
NR3C1 
Remdesivir 
AAKI 
Melatonin 
MTNRIA 
Baricitinib
Source: The Lancet
AI algorithms can be used for drug repurposing, which is a rapid and cost-effective way to discover new therapy options for emerging diseases.

Artificial Intelligence is a massive disruptor in the vaccination process in regards to reduction of time consumed by molecular analysis and how the molecules should be used in chemical binding to target the disease. In short, humans can’t possibly conduct analysis on the billions of different molecules as it would take far too much time that our global population just doesn’t have. AI has been able to automate this process for the pharmaceutical industry to increase capacity, help predict which drugs would most likely be successful and also decrease the amount of financial resources spent on clinical trials that might ultimately fail.

But Artificial Intelligence’s reach in the chemical industry only begins here and, as a result of the pandemic, it truly has become a necessity for corporations to survive and even thrive in the current environment.

Chemical manufacturers, as well as other industries, all over the world are partnering with Elutions in order harness the power of Maestro’s Artificial intelligence to combat the disruption that COVID-19 has created. Maestro, when applied to the chemical manufacturing process at an estate-wide level, has the ability to transform operations.

To learn more about Digitization and Maestro Artificial Intelligence, stay tuned for Friday’s (Oct. 23) article on Digitization and Quantifying the Impacts of Artificial Intelligence. Also, please read previous articles regarding our work using Artificial Intelligence to combat COVID-19.


Up Next for NCW: Digitization and Chemical Manufacturing


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AI & COVID-19: Safely Back to School

As we enter September, in one of the strangest years to date, COVID-19 has infiltrated nearly every facet of our everyday lives. When people leave their homes, it is normal to grab keys, cellphone, wallet and now a mask. For most, the changes have simply become the new routine. But one of the biggest disruptors caused by COVID-19 is in the return to campus for many college students. This results in colossal questions being asked, and one extremely important question:

How can we ensure the protection of our student-body, faculty and staff braving the return to college campuses across the globe?

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) released that “…current evidence suggests that COVID-19 spreads between people through direct, indirect (through contaminated objects or surfaces), or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions. These are released from the mouth or nose when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings, for example.” We recognize that the spread of COVID-19 is an Airborne illness and yet, if colleges are to re-open this fall as many already have, how can we protect the integrity of the open, constructive in-person dialogue that many classrooms thrive upon? The answer exists, partially, in making the environment on campus the healthiest for all, limiting the spread of COVID-19.

According to the WHO, many reported outbreaks of COVID-19 share their occurrence in “closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing.” Additionally, the lack of social-distancing in practice and lack of mask wearing increased the rate of the spread and we’ve seen in many States bars and restaurants closing again to contain outbreaks. One of the most important things to pay attention to regarding these outbreaks and the future spread is this statement from the WHO,

In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out.”

The World Health Organization

Beyond wearing a mask, social distancing and lowering the capacity of contained spaces, the physical environment of the classroom and broader spaces can have a profound effect on the virus’ ability to spread. We acknowledge that this is one of the keys leading to the decreased spread of COVID-19 on the College Campuses, increasing the safety for all. In fact, we are currently working with esteemed universities to prepare their shared spaces for the return of activity on campus.

For years, our team has followed the gold star of industry standard guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and other international equivalents in our work on campuses and beyond. ASHRAE published a report in April of 2020 to rebut some false statements regarding HVAC and also put out a full statement with guidelines regarding the optimal HVAC conditions to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

In their reports, ASHRAE specifically stated the following, “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.” This is not only pivotal to the re-opening of college campuses but in all industries where offices are re-opening for example, busy sales floors at large corporations or call centers where many people are talking all day long in close quarters.

In relation to universities and colleges specifically, our team works with facilities teams to automate implementation of the guidelines set by ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force. The new guidelines for COVID-19 are vast and the automated implementation by Maestro allows for facilities teams to focus on non-COVID-19 related projects. While Maestro’s core remains to reduce operational and energy spend, our team is passionate about making the working environment as safe as possible for students, faculty and staff to return to this fall.

With Maestro, it is possible to return to safer classrooms and offices, all while achieving significant energy and maintenance cost reduction opportunities through automated, no-cost measures across the campus, eliminating the need for direct human interaction with the University’s assets.

Contact us to learn how Maestro can make your campus a safer place to return to.


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Virtual CogX: The Festival of AI & Breakthrough Technology

Elutions is proud to announce their Lead Partnership of The CogX Global Leadership Summit and Festival of AI & Breakthrough Technology, June 8th- June 10th. In a world that is constantly in flux to adapt to impacts of COVID-19, CogX made the difficult decision to virtualize their event. We fully align with this decision as they themselves said,

“There are important, and in some cases urgent, topics to discuss: both the immediate challenges presented by COVID-19, and to play our part in helping restart the economy by connecting, collaborating and supporting each other.”

Relevant, now more than ever, is CogX’s 2020 Event Theme- How Do we Get the Next 10 years Right? Outlined below are the ways in which the conference aims to address this massive question:

– Move the conversation forward with concrete actions

– Reframe the climate emergency as the biggest economic opportunity in the last 200 years

–Increase understanding of the current Covid-19 pandemic and champion innovative solutions

The global pandemic has allowed many of us, corporations and individuals, to pause and re-evaluate what the next ten years will look like. It is clear now that the businesses that successfully and swiftly adopt to automated, autonomous applications of AI and rethink their business models will be the ones realizing a competitive advantage.

We will be hosting a virtual expo booth across the three days, June 8th through June 10th, where attendees can reach out to our team to learn more. We will also be hosting virtual lunch and learns, happy hours, and coffee chats. Our Managing Director of EMEA, Jamie Devlin, will also be a featured speaker on Industry 4.0 and sustainable supply chain, Monday, June 8th, 5pm BST (12pm EST).

For a limited time, we are offering our readers, interested in attending our speaking events, the chance to receive a Gold Pass, free of charge. Please click here and provide your full name, title at your company, email address and phone number to receive a Gold Pass.


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College and University Campuses can Combat COVID-19

It’s graduation season around the world and for what seems like the first time, graduation will not commence per usual. The celebratory hustle and bustle of college campuses at this time of year is now replaced with empty classrooms, haunted hallways and desperate hopes that students will return in the Fall. The truth is, nobody knows what will happen in the Fall semester, but students aren’t the only ones feeling the immediate impacts of campus closures. Colleges and Universities are now scrambling to address not only the concerns of parents, students, and staff but also the significant impacts on endowments, revenues and their budgets going forward.

An Inside Higher Ed survey of 172 campus leaders shows that the number one concern remains bringing the students back to campus safely and continuing their high standards for education off campus. However, the financial focus is right up there, “more presidents citing a desire for financial health and operational planning support (60 percent) than for anything else.” Artificial Intelligence can address operational concerns while freeing up financial resources for other concerns such as faculty training and instructional technology.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

While revenues are experiencing immediate impact, the need to protect buildings and assets, ensure environmental compliance is met, and reduce building baseloads becomes more critical as staff and services are less present. After all, students need a campus to return to. Artificial Intelligence, and Maestro specifically, is primed to not only address these impacts in the immediate term but provide long-term stability and digital transformation.

At an operational level, buildings have been closed but the need to maintain them to prevent asset degradation and compliance requirements still need to be met. With fewer people onsite to identify and manage issues and IT stretched with online learning, now more than ever AI and autonomous or remote adoption of solutions need to be applied. At this point, it is likely that there are already significant maintenance backlogs, which AI can address and mitigate future negative impacts of.

The short-term, mid-term and long-term impacts can all be addressed through Maestro artificial intelligence in the following ways:


Short Term: Reduce costs, ensure compliance and protect assets through improved approach to managing assets with limited onsite staff. Optimize baseloads. Identify and prioritize critical failures. Iron out inconsistencies in data. Move to PPM.

Mid Term: Significant cost savings in resource efficiency, maintenance, increase asset life use, reduced capital expenditure.

Long Term: Enhanced scenario modelling for space optimization and asset acquisition ROI assessments.

Benefits like this can be achieved through Maestro’s artificial intelligence and neural network computing capabilities to target significant energy and maintenance cost reduction opportunities through automated, no-cost measures across the campus, eliminating the need for direct human interaction with the on campus assets. A run-rate to deliver a benefit of >$20m annually could easily be achieved in as little as 60 days through a rapid deployment of the technology and the prioritization of the highest energy cost consuming facilities.

In an effort to focus on creating a stable environment for students to come back to, Higher Education Institutions must turn to AI as a remedy for immediate negative financial and operational impacts caused by COVID-19. To learn more about how AI can turn your business operations around, stay tuned for our COVID-19 & AI series or contact our team today to learn more.


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AI & COVID-19: Stabilize & Survive

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, why are corporations accelerating rather than delaying their digital transformation initiatives? The pandemic’s unprecedented impact on demand, workforce, supply chain, short-term costs and liquidity has forced corporations to take immediate, strategic action to maintain operations. In exploring their means of stabilization and survival, corporations found that Artificial Intelligence is uniquely positioned to ensure business continuity in the short-term, with its proven value in improving employee safety & security, short-term costs and liquidity.

While no industry has proven immune to the pandemic, the depth and breadth of its disruption in the manufacturing vertical clearly demonstrates why corporations have adopted transformational technologies over traditional solutions to beat COVID-19. Manufacturers have felt the acute pressure of COVID-19 in their plants and across their value chains.

  • Demand: Sharp declines in demand across non-essential product segments have disrupted each step of the value chain, driving significant earnings adjustments; essential goods producers are struggling to continue operations with heightened risk, and to satiate demand with unprecedented operating and supply chain limitations.
  • Supply Chain: Despite the geographic diversity of supplier networks, sudden overseas supplier shutdowns and domestic fulfillment delays have disrupted if not halted downstream activity, depleting on-hand inventory, prompting a rapid search for market alternatives, and driving material and part shortages, price increases, and an expected spike in upstream transportation costs as restrictions lift.
  • Workforce: Rapid adoption of new distancing protocols, shift structures and offsite resourcing arrangements have ensured employee safety & security, but constrained operating efficiency, quality, throughput and yield; deferred critical asset maintenance and replacement have increased downtime risk and may increase mid-term CAPEX obligations.
  • Short-Term Costs: Essential and non-essential product manufacturers have made significant adjustments to minimize variable costs, maintain business operations, and operate in an environment of significant macroeconomic and trade policy uncertainty, including layoffs, furloughs and temporary plant closures.
  • Liquidity: With strong macroeconomic headwinds, demand and supply side disruption, and constrained operational agility, liquidity is a principal concern of manufacturers that will not be alleviated at the moment restrictions are lifted, but gradually as the supply chain and broader economy rebound.

How is Artificial Intelligence empowering corporations with substantial value chain disruption to act fast and weather the storm?

Elutions’ highly-automated and autonomous Artificial Intelligence solution, Maestro, leverages historical data, deploys rapidly and delivers immediate improvements in safety & security, short-term costs and liquidity. The following Artificial Intelligence use cases are paramount to ensuring business continuity in manufacturing.

  • Remote Operability, Operational Automation & BEP Adherence: By enabling remote asset and process control, visualization and planning, and automated system-driven asset and process optimization, corporations ensure operational continuity, resilience and efficiency, improving employee safety & security, reducing labor requirements and operating costs, and increasing cash-on-hand.
  • In-Line Quality Assurance & Scrap Reduction: By enabling automated quality prediction and dynamic operating parameter adjustment at each stage of production, manufacturers autonomously ensure end-product quality, minimize scrap and rework, and optimize the Unit Cost of Production as conditions change, improving operating margins, yield (revenue), and liquidity through minimized waste.
  • Dynamic Downtime Prevention & Predictive Preventative Maintenance: By enabling dynamic, system-driven alternate control sequencing in the event of a sensor, asset or process failure, corporations autonomously avoid unplanned downtime, associated repair and replacement costs, and foregone revenue. With system-driven Predictive Preventative Maintenance and automated Work Order creation, corporations minimize downtime and production risk, extend asset use life, generate significant savings through right-time, right-size maintenance, and improve safety & security through truck-roll consolidation.
  • Market, Demand & Capacity Driven Procurement & Inventory Management: By continuously predicting raw material costs, sales and capacity alongside the live environment, and enabling automated procurement and IM directives, corporations optimize operating productivity, inventory levels, and the margin value of Inventory on-hand. Similarly, by continuously predicting replacement part costs, process demand alongside forecasted utilization, and automating replacement part purchasing, corporations optimize part inventory levels, reduce short-term costs and improve liquidity.

Beyond short-term survival, corporations have placed their bets on Artificial Intelligence to thrive in the mid-to-long-term. Stay tuned for more market intelligence on how AI is helping corporations build resilience and optimize operations.


Up Next for NCW: Digitization and Chemical Manufacturing


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Preparing for Landing: AI, Airports & COVID-19

An industry that felt a near immediate and drastic impact from COVID-19 was the air-travel industry. With the COVID-19 measures and bans, a large part of air traffic, mostly passenger but also cargo, has come to a near standstill across the globe. Air traffic has historically been cyclical, closely following the regional and global economic growth metrics, and it had experienced unexpected downturns during or after tragic events like 9/11. However, it has never been hit by an incident of this magnitude that led to reports by TSA of less than 1% of the amount of travelers going through airport security year over year from this time in 2019 to now.

Take Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson a once bustling airport and one of the world’s largest and busiest hubs has now reported massive losses. According to the airport’s general manager, John Selden, “Revenue is probably down, off the top of my head, 50 to 60%,” he also added, “we usually have 2,600 flights a day here, fully loaded. In other words, almost no seats available. Right now, we’re down to 1,200 flights and they’re mostly empty.” The airport is down 85% in passengers.

While there is no clear picture on when air traffic will recover, looking at the TSA reports there is a clear increase in travel during the month of May thus far, at least in the US. Domestic markets are expected to be opened first, following the example in China. However, consumer confidence and regaining the trust of travelers will be integral to the timing and speed of industry recovery.

According an IATA-commissioned survey, 40% of passengers say they will wait 6 months or more before traveling. The recovery will also depend on the financial outlook as a prolonged global recession will dampen demand for air traffic further.


The uncertainty surrounding travel is leaving many leaders to wonder,

“How can we ever recover from this?” 

The answer lies in the application of Artificial Intelligence.


Artificial Intelligence-led initiatives will provide a helpful remedy to the negative impacts of the COVID-19-led disruption and will also inform post-COVID-19 operating models as they are developed and tested. As for many other industries, it is imperative to recovery for airports to fast-track AI-led initiatives in these times of increased operational uncertainty and unforeseen structural changes.

In the short to medium term, AI will help airports minimize their operational costs by increasing resource efficiency according to operational demand and reducing maintenance costs through predictive preventative maintenance, and maintain, possibly even enhance, their standards of operations with a reduced workforce through its autonomous application. In turn, greater flexibility will be provided to airports which had been forced to suspend terminal and runway capacity and reduce workforce as an immediate response to the loss of air traffic, particularly as some of the travel demand returns over the next few months.

In the medium to long term, AI will inform future operating models as airports will develop and test new ways to run every bit of their operations from car parks to passenger gates. Insights gained by AI will add a strategic value to airports as they plan for their future.

Businesses that successfully and swiftly adopt to automated, autonomous applications of AI and rethink their business models will be the ones realizing a competitive advantage once we return to normalcy. Contact our team today to harness the power of Elutions’ Artificial Intelligence Solutions.


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Up Next for NCW: Digitization and Chemical Manufacturing

AI & COVID-19

Throughout modern history, several infectious diseases have spread with sufficient speed, scale and severity to be considered pandemics. Malaria, Smallpox, H1N1, and HIV/AIDS, which remains active, made the list. COVID-19, however, is in a league of its own. The last pandemic of comparable economic impact, if not on human life, was the Spanish Flu, which directly followed WWI and wrought havoc in a significantly less interconnected world than the one in which we live today.

The Global Impacts of COVID-19 have already been unprecedented. “Stay-at-home,” “social-distancing” and travel and trade restrictions imposed to protect public health have had devastating impacts on the global economy, supply chain and employment. How and when this pandemic will end remains unclear. What is certain is that businesses now face an existential threat, and their leaders must take immediate action to set and execute strategies to weather the storm and ensure they are prepared for future economic, operational or human crisis.

In a time when “non-essential” businesses have been forced to shutter operations or shift to remote collaboration, and “essential” businesses face unparalleled demand alongside novel operational and supply chain challenges, how can manufacturers, O&G companies, airports, utilities, universities and other major businesses survive?

If they adapt quickly, can they thrive?

The answer to this question for industry lies in the adoption of end-end Artificial Intelligence.

Over the next few weeks, we will dive into the major business impacts of COVID-19 and how Elutions Artificial Intelligence platform, Maestro, is addressing them across multiple verticals.  We strongly believe that businesses that successfully and swiftly adopt automated, autonomous applications of AI and rethink their business models will be the ones realizing a competitive advantage once we return to a “new normal”.

Inspired by industrial trends a multitude of sources, reports by McKinsey and many others, Elutions’ AI & COVID-19 Series will specifically address the themes of Survival, Optimization, and Transformation. 


Survival: Artificial Intelligence applied immediately to stabilize business operations.

Optimization: Artificial Intelligence’s intermediary impacts, growing and preparing for a “new normal.”

Transformation: Artificial Intelligence’s long-term impacts in a post-pandemic landscape.


Check back in with us weekly for new content on how to address the business impacts of COVID-19 through the strategic application of end-end Artificial Intelligence.


Up Next for NCW: Digitization and Chemical Manufacturing


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