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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Artificial Intelligence: A Green Chemistry Technology

Sustainability has been a buzzword for at least the last decade across all industries and even within people’s homes but it seems now, more than ever, it is actually becoming a leader in disruptive change for corporations all over the globe. We see this push in Chemistry with the increased focus on “Green Chemistry” which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines as “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances.”

Green Chemistry represents a broad reach in the Chemical Industry to become more sustainable in many different facets of the word. The EPA states that corporations that create technology which, “reduces or eliminates the hazardous chemicals used to clean up environmental contaminants” are creating green chemistry technology. Per this definition, Artificial Intelligence, when applied to Chemical Manufacturing Process to reduce environmental contaminants or when used to develop materials in a less hazardous way, and many more applications, can and would be considered green chemistry technology.

Dr. Paul Anastas, known as the “Father of Green Chemistry” and the Director of Yale’s Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering, has shed even further light on sustainable chemistry sharing his ideas that not only is Green Chemistry about aligning environmental and health goals but also the consideration that “Green” must extend to economic goals through new inventive and innovative change.

Dr. Yuan Yao, a rising star in the industry and a Yale Professor, has worked alongside Dr. Anastas to conduct investigative research that illustrates, “…how emerging technologies and industrial development will affect the environment,” and she also uses, “interdisciplinary approaches in industrial ecology, sustainable engineering, and machine learning to develop systems analysis tools to support engineering and policy decisions towards sustainability.”

It is Dr. Yao’s belief that, “artificial intelligence shows great potential in reducing the energy consumption and environmental footprints for the chemical industry.” And the team at Solve The Unsolvable and Elutions have to agree with her, as our lengthy experience in chemicals and beyond prove this statement to be true

Artificial Intelligence, and Elutions’ Maestro Platform specifically, can certainly be considered innovative and a large contributor to sustainable chemical manufacturing. Our team works tirelessly to solve previously unsolvable business quandaries in the Chemical Industry and beyond to create more sustainable business processes and practices. Through the bespoke application of Maestro AI across the entirety of the chemical manufacturing process, from procurement all the way through to the sale of the product, enterprise efficiency is taken to a new level.

Not only does Maestro cover many of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry such as waste prevention & energy efficiency but it goes far beyond to incorporate Dr. Anastas’ ideals of taking into account economic goals, through significant operating margin increases and constant innovation within our Neural Network. Maestro maximizes benefits with continuously increasing speed, scale, and impact.

To learn more about Maestro, please contact us and to read more about our work in chemicals, and beyond, please subscribe below.


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National Chemistry Week Celebration!

Each year in the United States, since the late 1980s, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has designated a week, National Chemistry Week (NCW), to celebrate and promote to the public the positive changes in the Chemical Industry. This year’s NCW theme is “Sticking with Chemistry” with a focus on Glues and Adhesives, something that touches all of our lives, almost daily and especially the lives of children. While the ACS predominantly focuses on educating elementary and secondary school children, we would like to share our thought leadership with businesses around the globe.

As a company with several partnerships within the Chemical Industry, including a membership in the Chemicals Industry Association in the United Kingdom, Elutions is excited to share the positive changes we, and Artificial Intelligence in general, have made through Chemical Themed articles celebrating this year’s National Chemistry Week from October 18th through October 24th.

Please check out our upcoming articles on Monday 10/19, Wednesday 10/21, and Friday 10/23 about the positive changes being made, specifically in the Chemical Manufacturing Industry, through Artificial Intelligence and our AI platform, Maestro.

To learn more about Maestro, please contact us.


Up Next for NCW: Digitization and Chemical Manufacturing


Stay up-to-date on this series and all of our industry disrupting insights!

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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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Alexa, How are you using my data?

Smart Home technology is a well saturated market with technology that just a short few years ago many thought could not be possible. We have long talked about voice assistants and video enabled devices but now technology that was once thought to be futuristic has arrived, seemingly omnipresent in many households around the global. Not only are Artificial Intelligence enhanced video enabled devices now available but they come in many varieties, from home protection to two-way video chatting with your pet.


Video “chat” with a pet?….

When did animals start chatting?


With these ever present devices in so many households – cameras, digital assistants, smart TVs, smart thermostats and more – are we enhancing our physical privacy or actually putting it in jeopardy? Are the benefits, such as automation, smart phone remote capabilities and more, worth the risk of data privacy?

Are you taking advantage of Smart Tech, or is it taking advantage of you?

So what’s the big deal if your smart home has data that’s making your life easier? Amazon’s Alexa can make it easier for you to order more household items. Google Home can integrate with Google Nest to allow you to control your A/C by simply telling it to change the temperature. All great features that help make things a little bit more convenient in our day to day, but what exactly are these companies doing with our data?

Amazon is pretty transparent in regards to the voice data Alexa is storing, a quick look on their website tells us that. But what about Google, their biggest competitor in the Smart Home space? Google is fairly transparent as well, though as previously mentioned in the intro post, changing your privacy settings may impact your service. Google’s privacy policy website tells us that they are mostly using your saved data to improve searches and targeted ads, see this video below:

These are great examples of transparency from these corporations and they outline relatively mundane uses for your data but it’s still important to understand. The future consequences of these corporations having your stored data should be the biggest concern. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said in 2010:

“One of the things that eventually happens … is that we don’t need you to type at all,” later adding: “Because we know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less guess what you’re thinking about.”

Eric Schmidt

Adapt that quote to the Smart Home and eventually Google doesn’t need you to speak to Google Home, rather the A/C just changes to suit your pre-determined preferences when you arrive home because of patterns in your stored data combined with Artificial Intelligence. Alexa doesn’t need you to tell her to order paper towels, they just show up because all of your stored data has told them it’s time for another shipment.

While these specific examples of transparency regarding data storage are promising, consider how much you’re willing to give away and where the line is with your data privacy. Consider the fact that these devices are always listening and while the corporations behind them may be simply using this data to “train” their AI, the government or third party apps could be using this data for other reasons.

In 2018 law enforcement subpoenaed Amazon for Amazon Echo data as evidence in a criminal trial for murder. The lines between privacy, technology and criminal justice are changing daily. Amazon is not the only tech company that has had this happen, Fitbit and Apple have run into similar situations.  While most technology companies are quick to defend consumer privacy the question still stands:


How much of your personal privacy are you willing to give away?


Letting AI into our daily lives is not something to fear but maintaining control over data and privacy should be a top concern. There’s many ways to protect your privacy, or at least limit your exposure, while utilizing the benefits of Smart Home tech. Awareness is the first step in achieving enhanced privacy. Visit 101 Data Protection Tips for a comprehensive list of ways to attempt to protect your privacy.


Up Next for NCW: Digitization and Chemical Manufacturing


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