NextGen Summit 2023: Digital adoption is the gateway to future for chemical industry

NextGen Summit 2023: Digital adoption is the gateway to future for chemical industry

Tailored approach to adoption of digital technologies, role of AI, ML in improving operations, and need for customized courses for skilled workforce dominated the discussions at the third session

  • By Rahul Koul | July 18, 2023

The adoption of digital technologies in the chemical industry has increased over the past few years. This can be seen in the growing use of robotics, remote operations centres, Industry 4.0/ smart plant twins, autonomous operations in warehouses and logistics, data-driven agribusiness platforms and digital supply chains—to name a few examples. The holistic adoption of digitization by the chemical industry will support the transformation of the existing business to absorb newer capabilities, platforms, gain insights using data analytics and make timely changes in business decisions to optimize the existing operating model and maximize efficiency and profits. New development processes, including rapid prototyping and parallel experimentation supported by data analytics, can help companies respond.

However, it is not going to be an easy task for the chemical companies to adopt digitization. These companies need to have a clear roadmap to establish an accommodating culture that promotes flexibility and learning. There is a need to develop a complete ecosystem for the adoption of digitization.

The third session titled, Digitalization: Driving Cost Optimisation & Operational Excellence’ of NextGen Chemical and Petrochemical Summit 2023 organized in Mumbai by the Indian Chemical News on July 13-14, 2023 was moderated by Pravin Prashant, Editor, Indian Chemical News.

The event themed Innovation, Self-reliance and Sustainability was attended by a galaxy of thought leaders. 

“We are looking at the reduction of energy consumption by at least 30%. Having identified a few of the problem areas, we have reduced them by using digital twins. At the same time, we keep trying to acquire digital technologies that could help in limiting the wastage. Data plumbing is critical and for that we need to start collecting data so that we can get a range of benefits including predicting the emergency shut down. I think adoption of Artificial Intelligence-Machine Learning (AIML) is a journey and the first few models will get you 30%-40% of accuracy. Therefore, it is good to pick up 2-3 use cases that can move you to accuracy rather than adopting 7-8 models,” said Deepak Keni, Executive Vice President – Digital, Strategy and Transformation, DFPCL.

“Digital is in our DNA. We are optimizing our entire value chain through various digital technologies. We are ensuring that based on their fuel preference, customers will soon get the updates on various things. We have seen that the case studies of user bases on social media could also help in improvement. The sentiments caught on social media provide real time feedback in bettering the operations. Aim of such analysis is to make the customer experience smoother. Generative AI is very exciting and I am sure it would open a lot of possibilities,” said Sheikh Faraz Osmany, Deputy General Manager, Indian Oil Corporation.

“The digital technologies help in providing a lot of cost benefits. We partner with different companies as collaboration is the way forward. On the question of availability of enough trained workforce, we must design a program that can address skill development. The assumption of job losses due to adoption of digital is not correct. Job re-purposing and re-calibration of job activities and purpose is the answer to such challenges,” Tanuj Mittal, Senior Director –Customer Process Experience, Dassault Systèmes.

“Improving asset performance could bring in a huge amount of cost efficiency. How we carry out data collection is important. Visibility or availability of data has to be good enough. So has to be the data ownership which means continuity in acquisition of data. Identifying and picking up 2--3 critical areas is the first step and the another aspect that matters is identifying the capacity within the organization. Analysis is about studying the user cases. On the education side, current courses don’t deep dive into the tech in the niche areas. The standard courses might not address the needs of the chemical industry. Therefore, academia will have to create specified courses to create a talent pool,” said Ritwik Rath, Executive Director (I/C) – ERP, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation.

“We have built in-house customized software for optimizing the operations and have got good results. There is no doubt that AIML is going to impact the production big time. Visibility of data and transparency in processing it is very important. I believe the adoption of digital technologies must increase productivity of the organizations and not just decrease the waste burden,” said Sanjeev T Kulkarni, Engineering manager – IMEA, Energy Industries, ABB India.

“Our organization is helping chemical companies in automating their processes with Artificial Intelligence. Chemical industry has to keep pace with others. The change has to be three pronged. One is that they have to do something better in terms of the processes and operations. Second is that they have to do the skilling of their employees so as to help them adapt to the change. Third is usage-access to the process and industries,” said Pratap Nair, Founder, President & CEO, Ingenero Technologies.

The Summit was supported by the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Govt. of India. DCM Shriram Ltd. was co-partner for the Summit. The Gold Partners of the summit were Premier Tech, Ingenero, Rieco, ABB, PIP, Deepak Group, Dassault Systemes, Moglix and Siemens. Associate Partners were Tata Chemicals, Anupam Rasayan India, Sealmatic, Godavari Biorefineries, Huntsman, Tranter, Source.One, IPCO, and Aeroflex. The Lanyard Partner was Jakson Green. Industry Association Partners were AMAI, Gujarat Chemical Association, CropLife India, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Manufacturers Association and AgroChem Federation of India.

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