Chemistry 4.0: Will Digitization Uproot Conservative Tendencies in Industrial Chemistry?

19 April 2019
Chemistry 4.0: Will Digitization Uproot Conservative Tendencies in Industrial Chemistry?


According to PwC Strategy&, many global companies in the chemical industry have been delaying digitization for as long as possible. They perceived the implementation of digital projects to be complicated, and some industrialists had no idea where to begin.


"Similar to other traditional segments of the economy, the chemical industry had to reconsider its role in the digital revolution due to the demand for advanced products and the emergence of flexible start-ups with their faster response to customer demand," PwC Strategy& stated.


Initially, market players took a conservative stance on digitization, and that is still the prevailing attitude. CEOs mainly see it as an instrument for increasing internal efficiency.

Nevertheless, they are gradually changing their approach. While the development of digital technologies used to lie exclusively in the domain of IT services, now it is incorporated into business strategies at the level of Director General or Chief Operating Officer.
Players capable of becoming leaders in the provision of digital products, services, robotics, etc. have more opportunities for making profit.
PwC Strategy& provides several examples of chemical companies which managed to generate cash flow reliant on Industry 4.0 technologies. For example, Shell Chemicals (Great Britain and Netherlands), as well as Schlumberger and DuPont (U.S.), prepared systems which streamlined the entire supply chain: information panels and analytics allowed for remote monitoring of field work and logistics and for more efficient adherence to project schedule.


PwC Strategy& приводит несколько примеров, как химкомпаниям удалось сформировать новые денежные потоки за счет технологий Индустрии 4.0. Так, Shell Chemicals (Британия и Нидерланды), Schlumberger и DuPont (США) подготовили системы, благодаря которым вся цепочка поставок стала прозрачной: информационные панели и аналитика позволили удаленно мониторить полевые работы, контролировать логистику и повышать эффективность выполнения графика того или иного проекта.


According to data obtained by Deloitte consulting, 17% of Russian chemical companies experience a shortage of automation and optimization experts, and 36% of firms expressed the desire to invest in technologies in order to automate their personnel management. Still, Russian businesses mainly apply Industry 4.0 instruments for their internal purposes.

Manufacturer of industrial chemicals "Shchekinoazot" (produces methanol, sulfuric acid, ammonium sulfate, dry ice, etc.) intends to implement a comprehensive IT system at its facilities. The digital solution is designed to control several processes, including cash flow planning, budgeting, IFRS reporting, etc.


"Thus, we create the digital environment which supports the system for making key decisions. This approach allows for an increase in company value and reduces business administration costs,"

Sergei Zemlyaninov, Deputy Technical Director for Automation and Communications and Head Metrologist of Shchekinoazot, shared.


Over 80% of Shchekinoazot equipment is currently managed by actual automatic process control systems (APCS). Sensors collect performance data and help employees monitor onsite operations. Digitization experts plan to design a digital double for the company. They will create a virtual model which will include equipment, production processes, and company employees.


SIBUR launches new IT projects at its production facilities and administrative units / Photo courtesy of sibur.photas.ru

Petrochemical company SIBUR is also implementing digital projects, e.g. it applies Big Data to boost equipment efficiency, uses robots and computer vision for sorting and packaging, employs mobile apps to streamline operations at industrial sites, etc.

SIBUR took two years to develop a unique resource and financial model for IT services. The new platform allows for the automation of budgeting processes and contract preparation. More than 1000 SIBUR's IT specialists and third-party contractors participated in the development of this product.


"The project helps financial analysts produce accurate forecasts on yearlong resource costs and alerts the HR department to the company's demand for experts in a certain field. The model also serves as a comprehensive platform for ordering IT services and digitizing finance and price management. The new model can potentially save us 20,000-25,000 person-hours in 2019," SIBUR IT claimed.



PJSC PhosAgro, which manufactures phosphate-based fertilizers, installed a high-speed network and sensors at the underground mining facilities of its affiliate JSC Apatit. The system allows for the collection of real-time data, management of ore extraction processes, and underground voice communications.

The company implemented special software to increase the production of ammonia while maintaining or even reducing power expenditure and the costs of consumable and expendable materials.


"It is essential to implement innovative digital technologies in production and administrative processes. Industrial digitization allows for a more efficient use of resources and reduction in production costs,"

PhosAgro CEO Andrey Guryev pointed out.

Industry 4.0 technologies in industrial automation, robotization, and virtual and augmented reality will be showcased at the tenth anniversary INNOPROM-2019 scheduled to be held on July 8-11 in Ekaterinburg.

Digital Manufacturing: Integrated Solutions has been selected as the main theme of the exhibition. The Republic of Turkey will serve as INNOPROM Partner Country. We invite your participation in the exhibition, its business program, and negotiations with potential partners.

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