From 22-24 October, at New York’s Javits Center, over 200 exhibitors and around 5,000 chemical processing industry (CPI) professionals descended upon the 2019 Chem Show. What followed was three action-packed days full of networking, in-depth seminars and product demonstrations.

Javits Center, NYC

Javits Center, NYC

For the last 100 years, the Chem Show has been the most influential place for CPIs to meet to discuss the latest innovations, process efficiencies and the future of the industry. Exhibitors and delegates represented a plethora of sectors including:

  • Chemicals
  • Cosmetics
  • Food and beverage
  • Metals
  • Paints
  • Petrochemicals
  • Pharmaceuticals

The atmosphere of the show was great and we felt very welcomed by the Chem Show community. We spoke with many veterans of the show, some who were attending their thirtieth event!

“One of the great values of the Chem Show is the touchpoints. Interfacing and collaborating with a variety of end-users at the single venue…it’s powerful” — Al Lee, Emerson

Across the three days of the show, there were 35 technical seminars covering many different topics that are affecting the industry currently. For us, the most interesting sessions surrounded the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) and the decision facing many organisations to move their processes towards Industry 4.0.

Chem Show 2019

Industry 4.0

The term Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution that many organisations are shifting towards, with the help of technology including AI, machine learning and advanced analytics.

At the Chem Show 2019, there were a series of product demonstrations introducing “smart” components such as pumps, valves, centrifuges and of course software which we’ll look at in more detail shortly.

Despite many other industries already adopting technology to improve efficiencies, safety and productivity, the chemical industry lags behind a little, but this is not too surprising due to the huge potential investment needed to establish smart manufacturing plants. From talking to exhibitors in New York, and attending product demos, it’s clear to us that there is an incredible number of opportunities and options available to the chemical processing industry so deciding where to start seems to present quite a challenge.

“It certainly sounds great: a vision of the future with efficient, self-automated manufacturing processes that monitor themselves so they never go wrong” — Peter Guilfoyle, Northwest Analytics

Another challenge faced by CPIs is the potential resistance and backlash from staff should the organisation choose to implement digitalisation across the plant. This is not too dissimilar to the reactions demonstrated by linguists in the language service industry who are opposed to the increased use of machine translation. It is the responsibility of corporate leadership to address any concerns surrounding job security, potential redundancies and career progression.

Just like translation, humans will always be needed on the factory floor of chemical processing plants. Technology is simply being introduced to make operations more efficient, whilst arming staff with the information they need to move away from a traditionally reactive approach to their work.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT)

The first stage in evolution is for organisations to use big data and analytics to paint a picture of the current state of operations. This is where AI and machine learning comes in. Creating insights for upper management, data can help to identify potential anomalies, as well as correlations, throughout the manufacturing cycle. From here, strategic decisions can be made towards the implementation of smart operations.

One of the applications of IIOT that we saw across the Chem Show was the use of intelligent tech to monitor, identify and remedy faults in a production line; using a series of algorithms to avoid unscheduled downtimes as well as lowering maintenance costs and extending the life of machine parts and components.

 The digitalization roadmap

The Digitization Roadmap – Flow Control Network

We spoke to Karen Groschke of TrendMiner, who provide advanced analytics to “Analyze, Monitor and Predict the operational performance of batch, grade and continuous manufacturing processes”. Karen explained that tools like those provided by TrendMiner can be utilised to tackle a number of challenges facing the process manufacturing industry, but the adoption of new software often requires organisations to shift in their thinking and management. Karen told us:

“It’s all about providing engineers with the data that will help them to improve their processes, and empowering companies looking to move towards Industry 4.0” — Karen Groschke, TrendMiner

In his seminar, Todd Loudin, VP of Global Sales at Flowrox, presented a case study of Flowrox’s journey towards digitalisation. Since Flowrox specialises in flow control, filtration, environmental technologies and industrial automation solutions, it was important for them to find efficient ways of optimising their processes, whilst reducing operating costs and the frequency of servicing machinery.

“Virtually any type of machinery can benefit from digitalization” — Todd Loudin, Flowrox

Despite having to leave New York after the second day of the show, it was a really worthwhile trip for Ultimate Languages. We were able to connect with existing clients and contacts, whilst meeting influential players in the chemical processing industry. It’s incredibly exciting to see where the industry is heading and I am sure that once more CPIs become open to change, there will be a rapid increase in the number of organisations implementing smart tech and entering Industry 4.0.

If you want to find out more about how Ultimate Languages can support the chemical processing industry then please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the team. Alternatively, here are some additional resources you may find useful: