Digitalization Of Chemical Industry | WorldOfChemicals

Smarter digitalization for chemical industry

7:04 AM, 8th November 2016
Eckard Eberle, CEO, Process Automation, Siemens AG
Eckard Eberle, CEO, Process Automation, Siemens AG.

In an interview Eckard Eberle, CEO, Process Automation, Siemens AG with Chemical Today magazine explains the way in which digitization has become the need of the hour for the chemical industry to make their processes, faster, smarter and flexible.

What are the global trends related to digitalization for the chemical industry?

Digitalization corresponds to the procedure undertaken by companies from the chemical industry continuing to optimize production processes, including material and information flows, and achieving the following objectives: Greater productivity and more innovations by shortening the design and engineering stage and so reducing the time-to-market, greater flexibility while maintaining the necessary stability in running production, alongside a high degree of availability and efficiency of both plants and processes irrespective of maintenance and service times.

Today, these business objectives are combined with the overall trend towards digital transformation, such initiatives as Internet of Things (of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) more in the US) or Industry 4.0. (driven in Europe and Germany) or Made in China 2025.

Digitalization is not only the blanket networking of devices and data, or adding digital functionality to existing products. It is moreover the need to keep the chemical plant and the data state-of-the-art in a so-called digital twin due to ongoing changes, and to use “as is” instead of “as build” data.

The best usage of the data volume provides then information of relevance for decision-making, called smart data instead of big data.

Which are the areas/processes that are seeing increased adoption of digitalization in the chemical industry?

The digital transformation has long been under way in the chemical industry: machines are already checking in on cell phones or tablets to book service technicians for their next maintenance, the location of trucks and associated delivery times for material supplies can be determined in precise detail, and plant operators are able to remotely operate and monitor production plants around the world from an operations control center.

We see digitalization in a lot of support processes, engineering, simulation, services and analytics of plant data - less in core processes, but that may change.

Digitalization can change value and supply chains from supplier to end customer, and there are more and more initiatives of modularization in equipment modules or plant sections.

Explain the attitude of the chemical industry to adopt digital change.

The chemical industry is not forefront but due to long plant life cycles, there is the need of managing changes and lots of data. This industry knows the constraints for competitiveness, for know-how protection, and to cope with ageing personnel, and it will innovate. 

Also, digital transformation stands for a fundamental change in the corporate culture and in business processes, so chemical companies will develop a roadmap to digitalization.

Tell us about the concept of ‘Management of data.’

Digitalization is initially the convergence of the virtual and real worlds over a customer’s entire value chain. It encompasses all the phases of a plant’s life cycle and the use of automation technologies or IT technologies to enhance overall efficiency. For that, we offer life cycle service contracts and services. ‘Management of data’ is generating information and knowledge and not only managing data. Many products already feature built-in intelligence and our digitalization services offer scope for the optimisation of assets, for example, the energy data from drive trains, on the basis of our Sinalytics technology platform.

Plant Data Services also supply control loop-based analytics over the control system to improve the performance or increase transparency and efficiency. They enable production processes to be adapted to framework conditions such as energy costs or market prices. An ever-increasing number of services and reports are also being offered over the web or cloud. For this, we offer Mindsphere – Siemens Cloud for Industry, a comprehensive low-cost data hosting platform.

What is the challenge for the chemical industry while stepping into digitalization?

The chemical industry has the need to achieve greater productivity, flexibility and efficiency through digitalization. During the lifecycle of a plant, immense data is generated. The companies have concerns about losing this valuable, sometimes proprietary data, and therefore develop competencies, digital strategies, including IT, plant control, personnel, etc.

How does Siemens understand digitalization for the chemical industry?

The trend towards digitalization will continue to gather momentum in the chemical industry. We are ideally prepared to join our customers along the way towards IIC or Industrie 4.0 and set out a roadmap for digitalization. We see us a reliable partner and facilitator.

What are the solutions the company provides for chemical companies to master digitalization in their assets?

We offer solutions along the entire value chain in the fields of digitalization, automation and electrification. Digitalization paves the way for integrated engineering, integrated operations and integrated plant management across the entire lifecycle. Our portfolio based on the Totally Integrated Automation and Totally Integrated Power technology platforms and on Integrated Drive systems means that we are ideally prepared to face the challenges of the digital transformation. 

A shared database overarching the entire lifecycle of a plant from the planning phase through commissioning, operation and maintenance up until the next upgrade or modernization process which is available across every facility reflects what we term the digital twin of an actual plant.

This digital twin is fed by our products such as Comos for integrated plant management, Simit simulation software for rapid commissioning and the process control system Simatic PCS 7 with their libraries. In addition, a wide range of components from industrial controls to sensors or actuators supply the process data required for diagnostics and condition monitoring from the field.

What is important is for this data volume to be processed to provide information of relevance for decision-making, for instance using the Operations Intelligence Software XHQ, which allows alternative courses of action to be illustrated on the basis of suitable evaluations and views, or Preactor for order planning and modification of production sequences on the basis of current information. Together with our Lifecycle, IT, plant data and security services, this turns big data into smart data.

What needs to be done to get an asset more and more digitalized?

First of all, to start the digital transformation, management attention, i.e. a declared intention and roadmap “to go digital” of the chemical company is needed. Systems, tools, technology and services will follow, complemented by fast bus systems, stable and secure communication, as well as security concepts to store data, maybe somewhere in the cloud.

© Chemical Today Magazine

 

See the Interview Coverage in Chemical Today magazine (Pg 32)

https://www.worldofchemicals.com/digitalissue/chemicaltoday/chemical-today-july/8

View the interview on Mobile, download the Chemical Today magazine app

http://bit.ly/21W5H0z 

http://apple.co/1ZwID77

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