Once upon a time, the combustion engine was a threat to everyday life as man knew it. Somewhere, a resentful stagecoach driver shook his fist at the prospect of him and his horses losing their jobs to this newfangled “horseless carriage.” In hindsight, of course, resistance would have been ridiculous. The automobile revolutionized humanity as we know it. A cross-country journey would no longer take months, goods could be transported at a furious rate, and entire industries were born. And though Karl Benz (he of Mercedes-Benz) was the first to begin commercial production of motor vehicles, it wasn’t until Henry Ford came along that mass production via the assembly line was merged with the production of cars, setting off a new world order far more devoid of buggies and whips.
The Industrial Revolution's Impact
In other words, change is inevitable. Sooner or later, good ideas and good processes find footing in a variety of arenas not originally intended. Think back to how bare bones the very first iPhone’s home screen appeared. Eventually, Apple’s ingenuity permeated the worlds of development, design, and eventually the imagination of app developers.
The Industrial Revolution continues to make an impact. Not only are innovations such as Ford’s assembly line and Apple’s ubiquitous handset byproducts of the long tail effect of the Industrial Revolution, subsequent iterations of the original movement continue to effect remarkable progress today.
Namely, Industry 4.0 is the latest leg in the manufacturing relay. Just as the steam engine and loom powered the original Industrial Revolution in the mid 18th century, internet of things (IoT) sensors, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI) power advances in smart manufacturing today. The vision of Industry 4.0 is to grant more autonomous control to manufacturing equipment for self-sensing, self-acting, and interconnected communications in real time.
Smart manufacturing has led to incredible innovation and fantastic strides in the food and beverage industry, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and metal and mining, to name a few.
This brings us to the $3 trillion global chemical industry. It’s a natural fit, of course, that the same underlying smart manufacturing processes that track and deliver “farm-to-fork” experiences, “lab-to-jab” critical personalized drugs, and hydrometallurgical processes are just as fit to push the chemical industry forward as well.
Industry 4.0 Meets The Chemical Industry
Like so many other businesses, the chemicals industry feels the pressure to digitize, achieve greater sustainability, and anticipate volatile customer demand. For those manufacturers that meet these demands head on as opportunities rather than threats will find themselves at a great competitive advantage with Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing.
IoT sensors can offer unprecedented end-to-end transparency. It’s the kind of transparency that goes a long way toward addressing geopolitical challenges and rising customer scrutiny.
Advances in AI and machine learning lead to predictive maintenance, automatic material planning, accurate sales and operations planning, full, on-time deliveries, and lower capital investment with greater customer satisfaction. And just as raw material intelligence and visibility via material ledger has led to significant improvements in yield (as much as double), virtual elimination of recalls, and tens of millions of dollars in operational savings in the food and beverage space, similar strides can be achieved in chemical manufacturing.
ThinkIQ’s material flow analytics for the intelligent supply chain can optimize the consumption of materials and resources. Considering the importance of safety, health, and environment to the chemical value chain, ThinkIQ’s ability to trace product — from raw materials through customer delivery — and our depth of experience, including semantic model and material ledger, is transformative.
Indeed, with 96 percent of all manufactured goods depending on chemicals in one way or another, and approximately 2 percent (about $226 billion) of the US GDP riding on the industry’s ability to trace, track, and manage the supply chain, incorporating state-of-the-art, tried-and-true supply chain management is the sound decision.
ThinkIQ’s Digital Manufacturing Transformation SaaS delivers the material traceability and insights chemical manufacturers need to improve yield, quality, safety, compliance, and brand confidence. Our fact-based granular and data-centric contextualized view of material flows and related provenance attribute data integrates into existing IoT infrastructures and crosses supply chains to manufacturing processes and beyond.
Without a doubt, the challenge in the chemical industry is to digitize for both operational and strategic purposes, to increase the speed of innovation, and increase transparency through integration. New markets will be captured only if the industry meets demand with agility, manages inventory costs, customer loyalty, and optimizes capital with improved logistics planning. The next phase of chemical manufacturing is supply chain management via Industry 4.0.
ThinkIQ specializes in turning “threats” into strengths. Talk to a ThinkIQ expert today to learn more about how we can level-up your chemical processes. We also have a new selection guide eBook to help you better understand the questions you should be asking. Download your copy today.