The chemical industry contributes to almost every manufactured product, in one way or the other. The industry engages in activities that convert petroleum and natural gas into intermediate materials, which are ultimately converted into daily use products. The global chemical industry employs almost 20 million people and has annual sales grossing to roughly US$5 trillion. In the earlier days, the demand was for certain chemicals sold in high volume and well-margined markets. However, with digital transformation promoting strategic growth and streamlining the industry, both commodity and specialty chemicals are now being customized to their end application. Advanced technologies like the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, robotics, additive manufacturing, and advanced analytics are facilitating this process. Companies in the chemical industry have historical data sets related to products and processes, which can be used to uncover patterns. These patterns offer better insights into the company’s capabilities.
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Preventative Maintenance and Asset Management
Sensors that are attached to the chemical industry equipment like turbines and compressors bring in a continuous stream of data. Analytics makes use of these data to identify patterns and predict potential breakdowns and prevent machinery failures. Also, data comparison from similar equipment can be used by chemical companies to ensure performance optimization. Hence, chemical companies can avoid unexpected machine shut-downs and improve their productivity.
Detection of Alarms
The chemical industry deals with chemicals that are highly hazardous in nature. Therefore, in this sector, it is highly essential to continuously monitor the production, storage, and transportation of the chemicals. Analytics will help chemical companies to efficiently monitor and lower explosive levels of gases, like hydrogen, oxygen, sulfide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. This will prevent any mishaps or explosion that could cause damage to life and property.
In a chemical plant where multiple dynamic operations are performed simultaneously, it becomes challenging to select optimal operating conditions. Advanced analytics and smart manufacturing techniques make use of technologies like soft sensors, which can aid in processing a number of data points. They also enable control of the non-standard process to improve energy efficiency. This way, companies in the chemical industry can not only ensure energy efficiency but will also help them in reducing their costs.
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Accurate forecasting allows companies in the chemical industry to save large amounts of money. However, this process is highly risky. With the help of analytics, companies in the chemical industry can accurately forecast the load of raw materials like oil, natural gas, air, water, metals, minerals, etc. to help them meet the demand and supply requirements of power and energy.
Traditional safety methods in the chemical industry were concerned with the collection and testing of samples. Whereas, Industry 4.0 and other advanced analytics technologies make use of techniques that monitor real-time data. For instance, mechanical vibrations or cracks in a chemical tank can be sensed by piezoelectric composite paints, which help reduce production risks.