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Tuesday 17 May 2016

SusChem Stakeholder 2016: ICT and #DigitiseEU

This year’s SusChem stakeholder event takes place on 16 June in Brussels. One of the major areas for discussion at the stakeholder event will be advances and issues in information and communication technologies (ICT) in the process industries. Martin Winter, Cefic Innovation Manager responsible for this SusChem priority area, outlines some of the issues up for debate and where your input is sought.

ICT for process was one of the five priority areas for innovation identified at our successful 2015 Stakeholder event. The recent European Commission communication on ‘Digitising European Industry – Reaping the full benefits of a Digital Single Market’ highlighted the role of the SusChem supported PPPs - Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and energy Efficiency (SPIRE) and Bio-Based Industries (BBI) - to help industry seize the new opportunities offered by ICT enabled innovation.

On 10 March SusChem organised a workshop involving around 20 ICT experts from companies and academia to discuss ‘Digitisation’ on the European level and to build the base for future funding calls, projects and collaborations.

SusChem, Process ICT and #DigitiseEU
From new forms of production to innovative business models the process industry is about to experience a revolution enabled by digital technologies.  Digitisation is expected to have a high impact on modernising Europe's production capabilities and can boost European process industries in the race for global competitiveness and sustainability.

The European chemical industry is a strong contributor to the roots of the European economy. Digitisation is already present in all aspects of the sector’s activities as it is essential from logistics, product and process design, planning, plant operations and plant safety to marketing/sales and customer integration.

In addition, smart materials developed by the chemical industry enable new and higher performing  ICT developments in printable-, wearable-, nano-electronics or 3D printing techniques and also allow more sustainable manufacture of new electronic devices avoiding material losses and waste generation.

To remain competitive, future factories will need well-integrated ICT systems as production increasingly uses digital innovations such as data capture, planning and control, modelling and simulation, cloud computing and big data analysis enabled by high performance computers and data connections. Data analytics will allow enterprises to convert data into knowledge, and effectively contribute to more efficient and safer processes with less environmental impact by more efficient management of resources, water and energy.

Focus for chemicals
With a focus on the manufacturing environment, important categories for further development for the chemical industry include:
  • Modelling, Simulation and Forecasting: Integration of modelling of single processes into production routes with modelling extended to all levels of automation, including scheduling and management systems as well as on-line decision making processes.
  • Real Time Data Availability: Development of hard- and soft-sensors for continuous processes that are reliable, fast, accurate and contact-less for use in intelligent self-optimising measurement systems along the whole production route and fully integrated in the plant automation environment.
  • Transformation of ‘Big Data’ into Lean Information: Identifying universal solutions for handling large amounts of data, methods to improve their reliability, techniques to assign them to product performance and explaining their practical meaning to all relevant applications.
  • Intelligent Self-learning Systems: Building models based on data and results, which continue to learn and broaden the scope of the models, based on closed loop performance monitoring.
  • Condition Based Advanced Maintenance: Developing tools and methods based on models, sensors, diagnosis and data analysis to allow remote control of equipment, prediction and prevention of failures, identification of trends and avoidance of efficiency losses and unwanted stoppages.
  • Product Quality Monitoring: Implementing integrated quality control factory-wide systems to monitor the evolution of quality across the production route by calling on information technology to better link process operations and plant logistics to give production flexibility.
  • Resource and Energy/ Lifecycle analysis (LCA): Enabling monitoring of environmental targets (energy / water use, CO2-emissions etc.) in all control systems as an additional set of constraints to optimise the overall sustainable performance.
  • Data Privacy: Developing advanced security solutions to prevent misuse of stored data and protect plant control systems or cloud-stored data from malicious attack.
  • Human-Machine Interface: Developing intuitive and user friendly interfaces for (plant)-managers, operators etc., information and their interpretation have to be available at all times in all locations.
Digital potential
However, digitisation has even greater potential to improve the European chemical industry. By using the full potential of high speed connectivity, the internet of things, cloud computing and cyber-physical systems in and for manufacturing, Europe can create new high-skilled jobs, reduce its consumption of resources and energy, increase its production capacity and continue to create the innovative products which a changing society needs.

SusChem inspired initiatives such as SPIRE are helping to make digitisation of European industries a reality. Close cooperation and alignment in the definition phases of the funding calls available under Horizon 2020 across all PPPs and all levels of stakeholder involvement is necessary to ensure that all the needs of the process industries are fully considered.

Stakeholder discussions
A highly interactive debate is expected at the Stakeholder event on 16 June and your questions and expectations on the outcomes for the panel debates, in particular on ICT and process issues, are welcome in advance.

Registration for the 2016 SusChem Stakeholder event is now open. This dedicated registration website includes links to discounted accommodation at the Hotel Bloom in Brussels - the venue for the event.

You are invited to submit your questions and comments and also your expectations for outcomes as part of the registration process. You can submit your questions and comments when you register and there will also be a link for question submission sent with the registration confirmation email.

Meet the Manager – Martin Winter
Martin is a chemist by education and received his PhD on a nanomaterial science topic in 1998 from the Max Planck Society before leaving for postdoctoral study at the Scripps Research Institute in the U.S. He joined Clariant in 1999 managing several innovation projects as Research and Development group leader and focusing on innovation and growth of new businesses. This included setting up external innovation activities through venture capital mechanisms. In addition a marketing and sales responsibility for one of Clariant’s start-up businesses brought him to Asia/Japan for a two year assignment. Since June 2015 Martin has been seconded from Clariant to Cefic in Brussels as an Innovation Manager responsible for driving the innovation agenda for the Chemical Industry.

His main area of responsibility is networking with the industry regarding their research and innovation priorities and connecting them with the European Commission’s funding instruments under Horizon 2020, for example, as the chemical sector’s representative in the SPIRE PPP. His main focus is on ICT, chemical process technologies and catalyst topics.

He likes to spend his free time with his family and is also an enthusiastic skydiver.

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