Industry 4.0

Automation Aug 17, 2020

Chemical industries are facing a lot of challenges due to increase in competition and rising customer demands. Their slow growth has compelled them to rethink about their business process in order to sustain in market. Evolving to Industry 4.0 is surely one of the solutions most of the industries are looking forward to.

With each revolution, the world around us is radically changing. As we head towards the fourth industrial revolution - Industry 4.0, we stand on the edge of a technological revolution that will significantly alter our lives. It focuses heavily on inter-connectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data. The advent of the new era virtual environment, big data analysis, simulation software, machine to machine communications, collaborative robots, broad connectivity, and new manufacturing techniques will open new paths for the chemical industry. Industry 4.0 has great potential of transforming chemical sector via promoting strategic growth and streaming operations.

Predominantly operating the business and growing it are the necessities for the manufacturer. Organizations concentrating on former can use Industry 4.0 to reduce risk and improve productivity. In contrast, those focusing on the latter can use this revolution to generate new streams of income and build incremental revenue. Predictive asset management, production simulation, and process control can help improve productivity. At the same time, risk can be reduced by in house operation to acknowledge the need of customers, supply chain management, and improving quality and safety. Advancement in IT/OT technology can help the organization to optimize its maintenance and, in turn, improve asset efficiency through digital or predictive maintenance. Using continuous input of data from the sensors to advance analytic tools for equipments such as compressors, extruders, turbines, etc. helps to predict and diagnose a possible breakdown. Data collection from a different location can help in a comparative study of equipment, which can be used for optimizing performance, designing new facilities, and predictive maintenance. Traditionally, the control room was monitored manually, but after this revolution, data is accumulated by the connected system, and it is presented digitally to the operator, in turn, making tasks easy and less time-consuming.

Digitalization is only one aspect of this revolution. However, automated control and real-time analytics bring together physical and digital dimensions, resulting in increased alertness, prescriptive response, and prediction. Ensuring the safety of the employer, customer, and supply chain partner is one of the most challenging aspects of the chemical industry throughout its product life cycle. Traditionally ensuring safety measures are done by testing samples and monitoring it, but by connecting it to technology, continuous monitoring of product and byproduct can be done which is much safer.

Industry 4.0 can not only improve manufacturing process efficiency but can also fulfill various needs and demand of customer. By boosting connectivity and taking advantage of real-time data, manufacturers can ensure better relations and effective addressing of issues or a new request from customers. The chemical sector mostly works on the business-to-business model, i.e., selling their product, which their customer further processes it to create a new set of products. Hence, often customer demands products with the specific condition which is suitable for their production line. Earlier, issue or demand could be addressed to a very little extent, but after implementation of Industry 4.0, using real-time data will enable in better customer interaction.

Further, implementation of a service-oriented approach can help in forecasting the need for the restocking of material and requirements, which will, in turn, assist in optimizing service time. On the other hand, digital transformation can also help in collaborating with other companies in the supply chain, which will, in turn, enhance service and product. For instance, manufacturers producing coating for conveyor belt can use cloud computing to share data with vendors providing conveyor belt aiding in better collaborations. The fourth industrial revolution will create a shift from the pay-by-the-ton revenue model to value-added products and services to customers, which will impact the mode of operation and growth of the chemical industry. As this methodology is entering at a swift pace, it is sure to change the working style. Further, upcoming production units will be more concerned with cyber and human security. Taking calls for the advancement of technology and digital transformation will help them sustain competition, enhancing efficiency, customer connectivity, and product enhancement. It is vital to remember that acceptance of Industry 4.0 is not the only installation of single software but instead is a longterm commitment from the organization to modify the technological foundation of the process. The organization which will truly embrace Industry 4.0 will surely appreciate an increase in customer interaction as well as performance within manufacturing operation. This will, as a result, lead to long term profitability and will lead to sustained success.

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