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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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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Enterprise Artificial Intelligence – Academic Theory or Ready for Primetime?

Solvetheunsolvable has already explored various aspects of consumer AI and products purporting to leverage AI technologies, but is AI for Enterprise ready for primetime?

Investors aren’t the only ones betting big on Artificial Intelligence, it turns out Higher Education is also investing heavily into the space. With heavy investment in research and development, enterprise level AI seems to be having a rocky start.  Earlier this month Northeastern University allocated $50 million to an Institute for Experiential Artificial Intelligence. This institute will be dedicated to uniting leading experts to solve the world’s unsolvable problems.

“This new institute, the first of its kind, will focus on enabling artificial intelligence and humans to collaborate interactively around solving problems in health, security, and sustainability. We believe that the true promise of AI lies not in its ability to replace humans, but to optimize what humans do best.”


Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun

This isn’t Northeastern’s first step into the world of Artificial Intelligence and Automation. They already have an Institute for Experiential Robotics that is bringing together engineers, sociologists and other experts, including economists, to design and build robots with abilities to learn and execute human behaviors.  Northeastern isn’t just building Institutes for experts to conduct research, they are making it a priority to prepare their students for success in the age of artificial intelligence. They have an entire curriculum dedicated to what they call, humanics which is a key part of their strategic plan, Northeastern 2025.

Northeastern 2025 Promo Video

“We are building on substantial strengths across all colleges in the university,” said Carla Brodley, dean of the Khoury College of Computer Sciences. “Experiential AI is highly relevant to our mission.”

Though Northeastern is an example of one university betting heavily on AI, they are not alone in their quest to equip students with proper education for the AI-enabled future. In fact, government agencies are getting involved in funding AI in Education. The UK has pledged to invest £400 million in math, digital and technical education through the government’s AI sector deal to protect Britain’s technology sector amid Brexit and an additional £13 million for postgraduate education on AI. In the US, just a few days ago, the National Science Foundation announced a joint federal program to fund research focused on artificial intelligence at colleges, universities and nonprofit or nonacademic organizations focused on educational or research activities. 

The National Science Foundation is awarding $120 million to fund planning grants and support up to six institutes, but there’s a catch. Each institute must have a principal focus on at least one of six themes:

  • Trustworthy AI
  • Foundations of Machine Learning
  • AI-Driven Innovation in Agriculture and the Food System
  • AI-Augmented Learning
  • AI for Accelerating Molecular Synthesis and Manufacturing
  • AI for Discovery in Physics

As universities and governments bet big on the future of AI and education, it underscores the importance of AI on a global scale in the future, but does it call into question the current existence of AI solutions ready to take business to the next level? Utilizing AI and automation will be imperative for corporations to remain competitive and for the advancement of business, but when will the floodgates be swept open, and by who, remains a mystery.

Will you leap into the future and embrace AI now? How do you see the futuristic vision of enterprise AI transform your business? Challenge Solvetheunsolvable with your business conundrum or leave your thoughts in the comments below and let’s explore what AI can do for you. 


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