Sunday 12 July 2020
 
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Paige Marie Morse

AspenTech outlines path to recovery for chemical industry

DUBAI, 18 days ago

For the chemical industry, the current conditions are a unique opportunity to optimise business processes and get closer to customers.  
 
Digital technologies provide insight on operations and capabilities of production systems, enabling greater visibility on status and integration, as well as deep exploration of alternatives to aid decision-making.
 
Paige Marie Morse, Industry Marketing Director, Chemicals, AspenTech outlines short-term initiatives chemical companies can implement — and are already implementing — to navigate today’s volatility and uncertainty, as well as prepare for future economic recovery.
 
Adapt process to meet variable market needs - Using digital twin technology, you can create twins of existing assets to define new production boundaries and potential alternate sites — while integrating safety limits and cost concerns. Digital twins can also be used to bring plants online faster and train operators for unexpected operating upsets.
 
Optimise production with APC technology- Today’s advanced process control stabilises operations within a new target range as demand varies, integrating capabilities of assets to find optimal operating conditions. For many units, this optimisation can be done dynamically to ensure operational efficiency, even at low rates. EXAMPLE: Wacker refers to advanced process control as “the cornerstone of digitalisation.” The company views APC as the foundation to maintain margins, including minimising energy use, and a critical tool to manage operational interruptions.
 
Improve product quality with insights from existing data - Multivariate analysis identifies causes of process variability and targets the optimum conditions to  improve product quality, yield and throughput. This analysis can be particularly valuable when market volatility shifts operations to new and unexpected regimes, helping to define the “new optimum” conditions.
 
Develop agile production planning - Leverage new tools to increase supply chain alignment and collaboration between teams in remote locations, even as market expectations rapidly change. Enable quick reviews of alternate operating and supply scenarios to help staff make more informed decisions about operations and alternative economic options for better business outcomes. Also, enhanced collaboration tools help to boost individual and team productivity across supply chains and operations. EXAMPLE: A global chemical customer is running many scenarios every day to build a portfolio of supply chain “game plans” to best respond to existing and future supply/demand conditions, constraints and implications. The company appreciates that as changes happen in different countries where they operate, the flexibility in AspenTech’s solutions can help ensure business continuity.
 
Maintain plant equipment reliability - Reliability concerns increase as maintenance activities are delayed and non-routine operations create equipment stresses. AI-enabled prescriptive maintenance uses operational and equipment data to provide critical insights on potential breakdowns  and guidance to operators to reduce equipment  stress and maximise uptime.
 
Increase visibility of operations across the enterprise - During uncertain times, it’s important to have insight into activities across units, sites and regions. Integrated analysis tools can help to identify and diagnose issues while handling large numbers of remote users at fast speeds over VPN. These tools can also help engage operators to identify and troubleshoot process issues and build custom dashboards which keep management up-to-speed and focused on critical issues.
 
THE PATH TO RECOVERY
Several chemical companies have effectively taken advantage of existing digital investments during these challenging times, and many others are expanding their digital efforts to maintain safety, operations and productivity. Agility will clearly be an important capability for businesses moving forward, as markets recover unevenly and the path to return to pre-Covid work environments remains uncertain. 
 
Digital twins are especially valuable in this volatile environment, whether for asset flexibility or supply chain options, to assess multiple scenarios to make more informed decisions. Additionally, their value as training tools for operators cannot be underestimated, especially as plants may experience more slowdowns, shutdowns and start-ups over the next several months.
 
As companies address immediate challenges, the focus on the long-term needs of the industry has not been forgotten. Sustainability targets remain in view — and the supporting digital strategies will be a part of recovery efforts, helping to improve environmental impact, safety. reliability and future innovation. -- Tradearabia News Service
 



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