Where is the digital transformation path of chemical enterprises?

In recent years, due to the inherent cyclicality and commoditization of the global chemical industry, companies are facing more and more business challenges and pressures. They must find new sources of profit and provide innovative solutions for demanding customers. In the past, most chemical companies have improved their operations by improving asset utilization, increasing production, improving operational efficiency, and implementing optimal pricing. Today, chemical companies are not only focused on improving their core business, but also seeing digital transformation as one of their core business development goals.
More than half of enterprises lack digital strategy
According to the 2017 Global Digital Chemical Survey, more than 50% of chemical companies still lack a digital strategy and a roadmap for transformation. In chemical companies with annual revenues of $5 billion to $25 billion and operating specialty chemicals (specialties, coatings, plastics and composites), two-thirds of them are in the early stages of digital transformation. In the petrochemical industry, the concept of integrated automation systems and digital plants has begun to penetrate the industry. In the past 10 years, large-scale petrochemical and coal chemical engineering projects have adopted the integrated automation system without exception.
"2018~2022 China's Fine Chemical Industry Market Development Status and 13th Five-Year Investment Value Analysis Report" shows that a major polyurethane producer uses accurate data analysis tools in the main production process to help companies find ways to adjust operations. The plant's isocyanate production was increased by 10% without any capital investment, the plant's high-pressure steam consumption was reduced by 25%, revenue increased by 6%, energy consumption decreased by 26%, and raw materials were saved. Advanced analytical techniques will improve the accuracy of forecasts, make the entire sales and operations planning process more reasonable, and the timing of mass production is more reasonable, shorten delivery time, reduce safety stocks, and make enterprises more flexible.
Digitalization has also spurred the value creation potential of sales and marketing. Digital investments in marketing and sales can increase the industry's average return on sales (ROS) by 2 to 4 percentage points. According to the "2018 Chemical Industry Market Research and Analysis Report", BASF uses advanced analysis technology to reset the price of 100,000 product customer portfolios in 7 core countries based on individual risks and willingness to pay. Through integrated analysis, capacity building and change management, the company achieved a price increase of 5% to 7%.
Although most chemical companies continue to generate large amounts of data, most companies do not use digital technology. If managers collect data and analyze it, they can explore the potential to increase production and turnover, reduce energy consumption, and reduce maintenance costs.
Incorrect ideas and insufficient understanding
In recent years, the competition in the chemical industry has become increasingly fierce. Due to the constant changes in customer demand, regulatory environment and dynamic costs, it has brought pressure to chemical companies, and digital transformation has become an inevitable development trend. However, in the process of transformation, there are still some problems, such as the lack of understanding of the digital needs of the enterprise itself, the unsatisfactory effect of digital construction, and the lack of funds and talents.
In the process of digital transformation, large-scale capital investment by chemical companies in the early stage can make great progress in hardware construction in a short period of time. Therefore, in the subsequent digital construction, people are accustomed to using the existing experience in hardware infrastructure construction, resulting in some misconceptions that restrict digital construction. For example, some people think that the digital construction of chemical enterprises is only a problem of the information department, which leads to a low level of participation in the business sector. Some people think that it is easy to build and then use it to change the information system.
Due to the different process routes and production modes in the industry, the demand for digitization is also very different. At the same time, the normative standards between the industries are not the same, resulting in poor information transmission between industries, reducing the efficiency of enterprise digital construction. The digital construction of chemical enterprises is inseparable from the construction of data foundation, management foundation and technology foundation. However, due to the relatively low technical level and management standards, the basic data of some enterprises is distorted or incomplete, which is not conducive to the digital construction of enterprises.
In the implementation of digital construction, some enterprises have pursued the large and complete system functions, resulting in the digital system of chemical enterprises not matching with their own management and business processes, and can not achieve the desired results, resulting in waste of investment and idle equipment. .
In addition, digital construction is a complex system engineering, which requires a large investment of funds and the support of a composite talent team. At present, many enterprises are unable to fully play their role in enhancing the core competitiveness of enterprises due to lack of understanding of digitalization and lack of capital investment. At the same time, the lack of high-quality information technology talents is also one of the direct reasons why the digitalization of enterprises is difficult to carry out smoothly.
5 areas to promote transformation
Based on the status quo of digital development of chemical enterprises, China's chemical companies must comprehensively consider their own advantages and disadvantages, and actively promote the digital strategy. In accordance with the specific deployment of the special demonstration of the intelligent manufacturing pilot demonstration of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, combined with the actual situation of the chemical industry, the main tasks and focus will be concentrated on the following five aspects to promote the digital transformation of the industry in an orderly manner.
The first is to build a strategic system for the digital economy, highlighting forward-looking. Draw a roadmap for digital transformation, list the tasks, promote problems one by one, and accelerate the digital construction of enterprises. To complete the digitalization and intelligent transformation of equipment, realize the integration of production equipment and virtual information network through the Internet of Things technology; deepen system application and optimize business processes, optimize systems and processes, and improve system application efficiency.
The second is to promote the full integration and deepening application of the production management system and business management system. In the aspect of vertical integration, the effective integration of the management system and the control system and the integration and sharing of data information are realized. In the aspect of production process management, the efficiency of the process control system is improved, and the application of the advanced optimization system (APC) in the chemical industry is promoted to achieve smooth operation of the production process and improve energy utilization efficiency. At the production and operation level, improve the application penetration rate, coverage and application depth of the production execution system (MES). In terms of horizontal integration, it promotes the integration of raw material procurement, manufacturing process, logistics warehousing, supply and marketing industry chain, and achieves the goal of product traceability, manufacturing process monitoring, and real-time calculation of benefits.
The third is to build a pilot project for smart chemical parks. At present, there are nearly a thousand types of chemical parks in China, and the scale and leading industry types vary greatly. Therefore, on the one hand, we must use information technology to vigorously improve the safety and environmental protection level of the park. On the other hand, we must do a good job in the construction of a dual-integration and integration public service platform for small and medium-sized enterprises, improve the integration of the two industries, improve the coverage and application efficiency of individual business systems, and accelerate development. The construction of the standard system of the smart chemical park will promote the standardized development of the park. At the same time, through the pilot demonstration, the reproducibility of the intelligent construction of the chemical park can be found.
Fourth, for labor-intensive, labor-intensive work sections, it is necessary to demonstrate through “machine substitution”, “intelligent replacement” and “intelligent improvement of benefits”. In the intelligent workshop, intelligent chemical segment, unattended, digital workshop and other aspects continue to promote smart manufacturing. At the same time, through the construction of large enterprises and the two-wheel drive platform for small and medium-sized enterprises, we will promote the coordination and docking of digital resources, foster a group of virtual industrial clusters based on digital platforms, and promote the benign interactive development of all links in the industrial chain.
The fifth is to explore education and talent training mechanisms. In the era of digital transformation, mobile Internet and big data cloud computing, the concept, tools, means and methods for cultivating talents should also be digital. Those involved in the digital construction of chemical companies must not only understand enterprise management, but also be proficient in information technology. Enterprises must also provide sufficient human resources protection to create an excellent environment for talents.