Discover how Abdullah AlHantoush, Executive Director of Data Analytics at SABIC, explores the intersection of technology and business success in the petrochemical industry. From leveraging data analytics for operational efficiency to increasing employee adoption of technology, learn valuable insights from a leading expert.
In the dynamic world of the petrochemical industry, where complex supply chains intertwine with vast data streams, the potential of data analytics to unearth actionable insights and drive innovation is immense.
Datatechvibe spoke with Abdullah AlHantoush, the esteemed Executive Director of Data Analytics at SABIC, about how data and analytics can navigate the challenges of this intricate sector and foster sustainable practices, better asset management, predictive maintenance, operational efficiency, and productivity.
Excerpts from the interview;
The petrochemical industry is known for its complex supply chains and vast amounts of data. How can data analytics be leveraged to gain actionable insights and drive innovation in a challenging environment?
The petrochemical industry’s supply chain is a complex process involving huge data elements generated by many data sources and in different formats. Here are a few examples of how data analytics can help gain actionable insights and drive innovation:
Real-time visibility: Data analytics can be used to track the movement of products through the supply chain in real time. This provides visibility into potential disruptions and allows for quick action to be taken to mitigate their impact. For example, monitoring the transportation network would allow for identifying potential delays or disruptions in the transportation process and taking steps to mitigate their impact, such as rerouting shipments or expediting deliveries.
Demand forecasting: Data analytics can be used to forecast demand for petrochemical products. This information can then be used to optimise inventory levels and ensure enough product is available to meet demand. For example, historical data could be used to forecast future demand and optimise inventory levels accordingly.
Cost optimisation: With the wealth of supply chain data, data analytics can analyse different supply chain stages, such as transportation, warehousing, and procurement, and identify areas where costs can be optimised. For example, using data analytics to identify the most efficient routes for transportation which could then be used to negotiate better rates with transportation providers and reduce transportation costs.
How can data and analytics reduce the industry’s carbon footprint and foster more sustainable practices?
Data and analytics could be a powerful tool to address sustainability challenges. By analysing large amounts of data, companies can do the following:
Identifying opportunities for energy efficiency
Companies can identify areas where energy can be saved in operations. For example, data and analytics can be used to analyse the energy consumption on the equipment level and optimise the equipment setting parameters to minimise the energy consumption. Plant-level energy consumption is another example where data and analytics can be used to optimise. In the Petrochemicals Industry, plants are sometimes connected to an energy network, where data and analytics can be a good tool for analysing and optimising.
Improving supply chain management
Data and analytics can be used to optimise the routing of shipments, reduce the amount of packaging used, and source materials from more sustainable suppliers, which can lead to reduced emissions from transportation and storage and improve supply chain management.
Measuring and reporting on sustainability performance
Data analytics can help companies track their emissions, water usage, and waste production and to measure and report on sustainability performance. This can help companies track their progress and identify areas for further improvement and optimisation.
How can digital technologies enable better asset management and predictive maintenance in the petrochemical industry?
One of the major challenges in the petrochemical industry is the asset and operation reliability. Digital technologies can be leveraged to enhance asset management and predictive maintenance in the petrochemical industry in several ways.
By collecting and analysing data from various sources, such as sensors, machinery, and production records, data analytics can help petrochemical companies identify potential problems early on, predict when assets are likely to fail, and take corrective action to prevent unplanned outages and costly repairs. Real-time data analytics can be used in multiple ways, such as:
Real-time monitoring: Data analytics can be used to monitor assets in real-time for signs of problems, such as changes in vibration levels, temperature, or pressure. This can help to identify potential problems early on and take corrective action before they cause an outage.
Condition monitoring: Data analytics can monitor the condition of assets and trends over time to predict when they are likely to fail. This can help to schedule preventive maintenance and avoid unplanned outages.
Root cause analysis: Data analytics can be used to analyse the root cause of asset failures to identify areas where assets are more likely to fail and take corrective action to prevent future failures.
Decision-making: Data analytics can provide insights to help petrochemical companies make better asset management and maintenance decisions. For example, data analytics can identify the most cost-effective way to maintain assets or determine the optimal time to replace an asset.
Compliance: Data analytics can help petrochemical companies comply with environmental regulations and safety standards. For example, data analytics can be used to track emissions or to monitor for safety hazards.
Remote diagnostics: Remote data analytics could be used to diagnose problems with assets without needing on-site visits by technicians, which can help save time and money. This can be especially beneficial for assets that are located in remote or hazardous locations.
Many other digital technologies, such as augmented reality, enable and support better reliability. The use of augmented reality (AR) tools to provide visual information and guidance to technicians during maintenance tasks can help to improve efficiency and safety. This can be especially beneficial for complex or dangerous maintenance tasks.
By leveraging data analytics and digital technologies, petrochemical companies can improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of their asset management and predictive maintenance programs. This can help to improve overall reliability, reduce costs, improve uptime, and mitigate risks.
How can digital technologies improve operational efficiency and productivity in the petrochemical industry?
Operational efficiency and productivity involve a lot of data points that are potentially used for data analytics. By collecting and analysing process data from various sources, such as sensors, data analytics can help petrochemical companies identify areas where there are inefficiencies, bottlenecks, or waste. Once these areas have been identified, data analytics can help petrochemical companies implement changes to improve efficiency and productivity. Here are some examples:
Optimising production: Data analytics can identify bottlenecks in the production process and develop strategies to improve efficiency. For example, data analytics can track the time it takes to produce each product unit and identify steps that can be streamlined or eliminated. This can lead to reduced costs and increased output.
Improving scheduling: Data analytics can be used to identify the most efficient way to schedule production runs and deliveries. This can help to reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. For example, tracking the availability of raw materials, the capacity of equipment, and the lead times for deliveries to create a schedule that minimises waste and maximises profits. This can lead to improved customer service and increased sales.
Managing inventory: Data analytics can be used to identify optimal stocking levels and forecast demand. For example, data analysts can track historical sales data and identify trends in demand to determine how much inventory to keep on hand.
Protecting the environment: Data analytics can track and develop strategies to reduce environmental impacts. This can lead to a more sustainable business.
In addition to data analytics, other digital technologies can be leveraged to improve operational efficiency and productivity in the petrochemical industry in a number of ways;
Automating tasks: Digital technologies can be used to automate many of the manual and repetitive tasks performed in petrochemical operations. This can free up workers to focus on more complex and value-added tasks and help reduce errors and improve safety. For example, using robotics technologies to automate the loading and unloading of tankers increased the efficiency significantly.
Enabling collaboration: Digital technologies can enable collaboration between different teams and departments in a petrochemical company. For example, the operation team in the plant can use augmented reality (AR) to have a video call with an expert in the corporate or remote location and get support through video calls and screen sharing. This can help to improve efficiency and productivity and minimise human errors.
What are the potential benefits of adopting Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors in the petrochemical industry?
IoT devices and sensors can collect data on various factors in petrochemical operations, such as equipment performance, environmental conditions, and product quality. Here are some potential benefits;
Improved operational efficiency: IoT devices and sensors can automate data reading and monitoring, improve communication, and make data-driven decisions. This can help to improve operational efficiency in a number of ways, such as reducing costs, improving uptime, and mitigating risks. For example, IoT devices can be used to automate the monitoring of equipment performance, which can help to identify potential problems early on and prevent unplanned outages. IoT devices can also improve communication between different departments and locations within a petrochemical company. This can help ensure everyone reads the same values and that information is shared quickly and easily. Additionally, IoT devices can be used to collect data on equipment performance and environmental conditions, which can be used to make data-driven decisions about maintenance, operations, and environmental compliance.
Enhanced safety: IoT devices and sensors can monitor equipment and environmental conditions in real-time. This can help to identify potential hazards early on and take corrective action to prevent accidents. For example, IoT devices can be used to monitor the temperature of pipelines, which can help to prevent them from overheating and rupturing. IoT devices can also be used to monitor the levels of hazardous gases in the air, which can help prevent workers from being exposed to dangerous levels. Additionally, IoT devices can be used to track the location of workers in hazardous areas and to sense their surroundings from any danger, thus helping ensure that they are not working alone and that they can be quickly located in the event of an emergency.
Increased sustainability: IoT devices and sensors can track energy consumption, emissions, and waste. This data can then be used to identify opportunities for improvement and reduce the environmental impact of petrochemical operations. For example, IoT devices can be used to monitor the energy consumption of equipment, which can help to identify opportunities for energy efficiency. They can also be used to track the emissions of greenhouse gases to identify opportunities for reducing emissions. Companies can track the amount of waste generated by petrochemical operations, which can help identify waste reduction and recycling opportunities.
What metrics do businesses need to track to show the success of tech investments?
Tech investments can be a major expense for businesses, so it is important to track their success to ensure that they are providing a return on investment (ROI). There are a variety of metrics that can be used to measure the success of tech investments, and the specific metrics that are most important will vary depending on the specific goals of the business. For example:
Revenue: Businesses often track revenue growth to measure the success of tech investments. For example, a business might track how much revenue was generated from new customers acquired through a marketing campaign powered by a new tech platform.
Cost savings: A business might track how much money was saved on labour costs by automating a manual process with a new piece of software.
Efficiency: A business might track how much time was saved by employees who could access information more quickly through a new tech platform.
Customer satisfaction: A business might track how many customer complaints were received after implementing a new tech platform.
Employee productivity: A business might track how much time employees could save using a new tech platform to automate tasks.
Compliance: A business might track how many compliance violations were avoided after implementing a new tech platform.
By tracking these metrics, businesses can gain insights into how tech investments impact their bottom line and overall performance. This information can be used to make informed decisions about future tech investments.
How can teams align people and processes to maximise tech investments?
Tech investments can be a major driver of business growth, but they only deliver value when aligned with people and processes. Here are some ways to align people and processes to maximise tech investments:
Understand the business goals: The first step is to understand the business goals the tech investment intends to achieve. It is also important that this understanding is delivered to employees.
Identify the key stakeholders: Once the business goals are understood, it is important to identify the key stakeholders affected by the tech investment. These stakeholders should be involved in planning and implementing the investment to meet their needs.
Assess the current state: It is important to assess the current state of the people and processes affected by the tech investment. This will help to identify any gaps or areas that need to be improved.
Develop a plan: Once the current state has been assessed, a plan can be developed to align current gaps, people expectations, and processes with the business goals. This plan should include specific steps that will be taken to improve the people and processes.
Communicate the plan: It is important to communicate it to all stakeholders involved in the tech investment. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there is a shared understanding of the goals and objectives.
Monitor and adjust: It is important to monitor the plan’s progress and adjust as needed. This will help to realise the plan and to make it more dynamic and agile.
How can businesses increase employee adoption of technology?
Technology can be a powerful tool for businesses, but it is only effective if employees are willing to use it. Here are some recommendations for businesses on how to increase employee adoption of technology:
Make the technology easy to use: The technology should be intuitive and easy to navigate. Employees should be able to figure out how to use it without much training.
Provide training and support: Even if the technology is easy to use, employees may still need training on how to use it effectively. Businesses should provide training on the new technology to ensure that employees know how to use it and can get the most out of it.
Provide ongoing support: After employees have been trained on the new technology, they may still need support occasionally. Businesses should provide ongoing support to ensure that employees continue to use the technology effectively.
Demonstrate the value of the technology: Employees need to see the value in the new technology to be motivated to use it. Businesses should demonstrate the value of the technology by showing how it can help employees be more productive, efficient, or effective in their work.
Make the technology accessible: The technology should be accessible to employees when needed. This may mean making it available on mobile devices or in the cloud.
Encourage feedback: Businesses should encourage employees to provide feedback on the new technology. This feedback can help businesses to improve the technology and make it more user-friendly. Adoption will increase when employees see their feedback was considered and feel they are part of the development team.
Celebrate successes: When employees successfully adopt and use new technology, businesses should celebrate their successes. This will help to motivate employees to continue using the technology and to see the value in it.