For the chemical industry, R & D is a big business – more than $51 billion is invested in R & D every year, and two-thirds of CEOs pursue new products and services to drive revenue. Given the high cost of development, company leaders need to be strategic in new product development, because the nature of the chemical industry is a high-risk environment. Recently, new opportunities for data-driven research have emerged at the forefront – lower cost and greater availability of support technologies, as well as digital analysis capabilities.
Industry specific challenges include the risk of losing knowledge as an aging, highly skilled workforce retires, maintaining low-cost demand through the development of more efficient processes, and sustainable development driven by customer requirements. Due to its role in the production, storage and marketing of potentially hazardous chemicals, the chemical industry also faces additional challenges in managing an increasing and changing regulatory world.
Although other industries have adopted digital transformation to overcome similar challenges, compared with other industries, the chemical industry is still lagging behind; less than half of chemical manufacturer has formulated specific digital strategies or digital transformation roadmap. Although many companies have used some digital tools, this approach has been piecemeal, with different departments using different solutions. Considering the complexity of the work undertaken, this is understandable, but many solutions are not interoperable, making each department have its own unique software and data trapped in the shaft, limiting the value it can provide for the whole business.
The value of data driven approach
Facing the challenges of chemical industry, it is very beneficial to invest in digital transformation. Data driven R & D methods can help support more secure processes and products by reducing risks, ensuring that products are appropriate and more likely to succeed. Chemical manufacturer can also improve their performance by finding more valuable suppliers or increasing output – digital transformation can provide up to 5% return on investment – to help them remain competitive.
It not only saves time and money, but also helps ensure that the company is more sustainable – meeting customer expectations. Timely access to the right information also helps chemical manufacturers comply with changing regulations, including new guidelines to address climate change or the environmental impact of R & D processes.
To find ways to produce and bring more sustainable products to market, chemical companies need scientific and business data to support their decisions. This means understanding previous research and applying knowledge of use cases and materials to emphasize the need for new products and processes.
When it comes to chemicals and sustainability, we see a steady increase in publications that include both “chemicals” and “sustainability” in the abstract and Citation Database Scopus. At the beginning of the 21st century and the middle of the 21st century, there was a significant increase in the number of publications. At the same time, there was an increasing interest in sustainable development in industry. Although this is a common example, this kind of data can be used by chemical companies to identify trends, ensure requirements before development, and promote more efficient R & D.
Support data driven R & D
Truly benefiting from the potential data-driven approach, chemical manufacturers need to be able to aggregate data – from existing internal and external research, business and scientific information, regulatory data and everything in between, to ensure that every employee has access to the information they need, which is the most accurate, relevant and recent data.
In order to organize and analyze data effectively, enterprises need to carefully consider the tools they are using. Although there are many products to choose from, the choice of tools is crucial when it comes to specific industries such as chemicals and changing regulations. Using unprofessional products means that companies may lose necessary or important data.
Once they invest in the right tools, chemical companies can be confident that they have the right data to overcome industry challenges, from business feasibility and compliance to environmental, health and safety concerns. These data can enhance the ability to develop new chemical products, focusing on sustainable development, welfare and regulation. If chemical enterprises want to succeed in today’s competitive global chemical environment, they can no longer survive without digital, data-driven tools and processes.