‘Unexplored Potential’: The Dawn of a Digital Renaissance in Chemicals

A recent Deloitte think piece broke down key growth opportunities for chemical companies. It all starts with a digital supply chain transformation

Over the past few weeks, the front pages of chemical industry trade publications have been dominated by a single topic: coronavirus. As operations at many Chinese plants have slowed or come to a halt (like refiner Hengli Petrochemical, who recently reduced its crude oil processing rate by 90%), the full impact remains to be seen.

“With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the magnitude of the impact on our products is not yet clear and will depend on the time period it takes for the Chinese and Global economy to return to normal,” Westlake Chemical stated in their 2020 Business Outlook presentation, reflecting the anxieties felt by manufacturers worldwide.

And that’s just the latest example of how unforeseen events—from pandemics to hurricanes—can wreak havoc up and down the chemical supply chain. And then there are all the risks that remain constant in the industry, like the volatile pricing of raw materials, evolving geopolitics, and regulatory compliance.

But the coming years won’t be all doom and gloom for the chemical industry; far from it, according to a recent Deloitte study that predicts a renaissance on the horizon. A key catalyst? Growth and innovation-driven by new digital technologies.

“Today, compared to the past, digital tools and technologies present an economically feasible solution to not just extract more efficiencies from incumbent processes but also design novel products and processes,” writes Deloitte. Its authors noted the huge, “relatively unexplored” potential for chemical companies to leverage technological advancements in sensors, cognitive computing, and analytics.

To effectively anticipate and adapt, chemicals companies should consider transforming themselves, by changing the way they operate and do business. Digital can be the answer to all these and much more.
-Deloitte, “Achieving the Next Frontier of Chemicals Excellence”

At Elemica, we’re at the forefront of these digital technological advancements—with a suite of products designed with the chemical industry and market in mind. Let’s look at some of the ways our solutions drive growth and innovation within the key areas Deloitte’s study identified.

 

  • Providing data & market insights to customers. More visible, more connected data benefits all parties; after all, when your data is confined to the 4 walls of your company, it’s only telling part of the complex supply chain story. Advanced supply chain analytics solutions like Elemica See can help chemicals companies collect and leverage data in countless ways, and add value for customers who also stand to benefit from the insights.
  • Create new value chain interactions. It remains uncertain exactly how much the proliferation of new channels and marketplaces like CheMondis, Alibaba, and Amazon will affect the chemicals market long-term, but one thing is certain: chemical companies must digitize to compete. Like consumers, B2B customers increasingly expect convenience and readily-available information. Has my order been received? Has it shipped? Will it arrive on time? Platforms like Elemica’s can provide these real-time updates (and reduce friction) by connecting customer orders to suppliers’ systems. Suppliers can even choose to automate certain tasks, like sending shipment notifications, paving the way for seamless customer experiences that rival those of the major eCommerce players.
  • Reduce time-to-market. Given the pace at which new, high-margin specialty products enter the market, the collaboration between customers and suppliers is essential. Elemica’s Digital Supply Network enables connected, automated, and more visible supply chains—factors that increasingly help chemical companies differentiate, innovate, and grow. As David Cahn, Elemica’s Director of Global Marketing, explained in Supply Chain Brain: “Digital supply network platform businesses are the glue holding all parts together. Their reason for being is that the glue requires certain independence from the foundation and the specialty businesses to become a trusted partner.”

 

Ready to learn how Elemica’s Platform can power your digital transformation (and help you future-proof your chemicals business)? We’re ready to talk when you are.

Get in touch with a specialist today.