Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence and the Chemical Industry

In the previous articles in this series, we discussed the importance of the Chemical Industry to the global economy and how that industry is poised to benefit tremendously from digitization. Digitization is a vast concept, it encompasses everything from advanced analytics and process controls through to Artificial Intelligence and full automation. Although many experts agree that digitization is critical for the future of the industry, what exactly that means in a business application remains to be seen.

STEPS TO BRING 
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION 
IN THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY 
ORGANIZATION 
AND TECHNOLOGY 
DIGITALIZE 
THE ENTERPRISE 
REGULATION 
ECOSYSTEM 
COLLABORATION 
CYBER SECURITY 
WORKFORCE 
AUTOMATION 
AND ROBOTICS 
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CULTURAL 
CHANGE 
NEW BUSINESS 
MODEL 
BRING THE WORKFROCE 
INTO THE DIGITAL AGE 
RIGHT DIGITAL 
STRATEGY 
CHEMICAL 
SALES IN 2016 
€3.5 trillion 
NIO million 
PEOPLE EMPLOYED 
IN THE INDUSTRY 
USING ADVANCED 
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GLOBAL GDP 
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RECAST CHEMICALS 
SALES IN 2030 
THE IMPORTANCE 
INDUSTRY 
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CHEMICALS ON THE 
ENSURE 
CYBERSECURITY 
ENSURE REGOLATORY & 
HARMONIZE POLICIES 
CHANGING 
THE MINDSET 
STRENGTHENING 
KEY AREAS 
ARTIFICIAL 
INTELLIGENCE 
CLOUD 
MOBILITY 
CONVERGENCE AND DEVICES 
PLATFORMS AND 
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BIG DATA 
ANALYTICS 
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CONTAINING CHEMICALS 
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o 
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Source: Pinpools

Industrial digital transformation represents a host of possibilities, whether it’s a reference to digital technologies applied in various levels of the process, to the entire process or even to the entire estate. For the purpose of this article, at a process level, Chemical Manufacturing and Artificial Intelligence will be the main focus of digitization in chemicals. Transformational benefits such as increased margins, reduced downtime, sustainable business practices, and more are all achievable in chemical manufacturing through the application of Maestro Artificial Intelligence.

For many corporations it may be tempting to apply digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, at a plant level or in an ad hoc basis and while benefits can certainly be achieved this way, in order to be truly transformative, from our years of experience, estate wide application is a necessity. Estate wide application allows for a full picture of the process rather than a point in time, isolated view of the equipment. The estate wide view gives way to a true understanding of how upstream and downstream processes impact the entirety of production.

The adoption of Artificial Intelligence across the entire estate is pivotal to the growth strategy of industrial chemical manufacturing and to their ability to combat digital-led disruption in end markets.


Long term consequences from the adoption of digital in other industries is being predicted to cause a large ripple effect in chemicals. The ripple effects can be positive or negative, take the following example: Digital technologies applied to the automotive value chain will have tremendous impact on the demand for production of chemical coatings as the dawn of driverless cars is set to increase safety on the roads and decrease the needs for chemical coatings. While a world filled with driverless cars may seem like a distant future, Chemical Manufacturers that produce these coatings need to begin planning for this disruption by applying digital now in order to survive in the future.

We have all learned many lessons about the uncertainty of the future, especially due to the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which manufacturers have suffered extensively from. Where have manufacturers turned in order to correct the course? Digitization. An internal research study revealed that the largest drivers for digitization in the chemicals industry are workforce, changes in utilities/ energy costs, COVID-19 related changes, growth strategy and global industry pressures.

Source: Internal Research

Financial incentive alone, derived from increased production, decreased downtime etc., is a significant reason to go digital. Additional benefits relating to sustainability such as reduced energy consumption and hazardous waste are also key drivers. Reduced research and development cycles are another fantastic benefit that comes from digitization.

The above drivers are the “why” that is causing Chemical Manufacturers to adopt digital technologies at increased rates. But how can they drive benefit, adopt solutions quickly and do it all at scale? 

The most important decision in adopting Artificial Intelligence and digitizing is choosing the partner that will transform business operations.


A true partner, like Elutions, will work with the business to establish clear targets, quantify the benefit, develop a governance plan, create a bespoke solution for targeted needs, prioritize speed to benefit and above all remain committed to future growth and surpassing designated targets and goals. Digitization in chemical manufacturing is not a “one size fits all.” Businesses deserve a partner that understands that and is experienced in working together to create the perfect fit.

To learn more about specific case studies of Maestro Artificial Intelligence applied, please contact us.


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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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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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Robotics: Automation or Artificial Intelligence?

The rise of robotics – a long touted seismic shift in human existence, the day an inanimate creature is brought to life.  A scary reality in the minds of many conspiracy theorists, and a reality many tech leaders would have us believe is already upon us.  But how close are we to engineering a robotic race?

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell, 1984

It’s difficult to not think about physical robots tackling common human tasks when we see the word robotics, but now robotics refers to a much larger application of technology and rising industry. Robotics refers to a focus on creating efficiency and replicating mundane tasks, a world that exists beyond purely physical robots, giving rise to automation bots.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an example of an automation bot operating in a digital world. You may be thinking, obviously it’s automation, it’s even in the name, but what is RPA? Used to perform simple, repetitive tasks, such as data entry, RPA is a programmable “bot” that automates a process in order to free up more time for humans that would otherwise be doing these mundane tasks. RPA cannot be considered Artificial Intelligence as it does not have the ability to understand the implications of the tasks it is performing, or predict future scenarios arising from the performance of these tasks.

Amazon Scout

In contrast, Amazon’s Scout is out on the streets in California, a physical robot, making package deliveries.  This Scout robot may be physical and operate in the real world but similarly to RPA it is another example of automation, lacking human intuition. Just like RPA this Scout robot is programmed to deliver a package straight to your door, removing this repetitive task, lessening the burden on man and machine, but the bot is not capable of modifying the delivery location to the back door under the overhang when rain is predicted, unless the delivery instructions are explicitly programmed to do so.  Far from artificial intelligence, the Scout is simply a machine programmed to automate a repetitive human function.

While individuals commonly mistake robotics as artificial intelligence, it’s important to understand why RPA and delivery robots are not examples of true artificial intelligence. Are they intelligent bots? Maybe. They certainly process and execute complicated instructions and factor many variables, but they lack inherent cognitive function.  Humans are constantly concerned about the demise of humanity as robots are brought to life, but because artificial intelligence still lacks the ability to replicate common sense, the rise of the robotic race will still remain in the halls of science fiction.



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