Asian Downstream Summit Discusses Digital Transformation

By Sharada Prahladrao

Technology Trends

Singapore has emerged as a prosperous technology hub. Today, 80 of the top 100 tech firms in the world have a presence in Singapore, reinforcing its status as a major East-West trading center and the gateway to the lucrative Asian marketplace.  So, it makes business sense to host technology conferences in Singapore.  In October, there were numerous technological conferences being held in different parts of Singapore, but I chose to attend the 12th edition of Asian Downstream Summit.  This  is a downstream technology event dedicated to Asia’s refining, petrochemical and specialty chemicals industry.  As the anchor oil and gas event during the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), hosted by the Energy Market Authority of Singapore, Asian Downstream Summitthe Summit saw the convergence of 1,000+ industry professionals and covered mission-critical issues within the downstream sector through extensive strategic and technical presentations, case studies, panel discussions, and workshops.  The two-day  technical conference is organized annually by World Refining Association in Singapore.  The 2019 event was co-located with the much awaited Refining & Petrochemicals Asia Conference.  The focus of the Asian Downstream Summit agenda was digital transformation and Industry 4.0.  Refining & Petrochemicals Asia focused on licensing technologies, IMO 2020, catalyst technologies, project trends and updates, and clean fuel technologies.

ARC Advisory Group participated as a Knowledge Partner at the ADS, and Bob Gill from Singapore chaired and moderated sessions, and gave the keynote address on the second day.  While Bob’s blog covered some end user presentations, this one will focus on some supplier presentations – to understand how they are accelerating their customers’ digital transformation journeys. 

Asset Optimization

Sanjeev Mullick, AspenTech’s Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan, began his presentation by explaining the market trends that impact energy margins – market dynamics, sustainability, demographics, and technology; and Asia’s response to economic volatility.  Mr. Mullick said, “The reduced cost of technology is making adoption of digital technologies more cost effective; new sensors allow for more advanced and faster transmitting; and by 2025 digital natives will account for 75 percent of the workforce.”  He went on to explain the journey of stronger business outcomes and how asset optimization powers the smart enterprise.  A comprehensive, holistic approach achieves the highest possible financial return over the entire asset lifecycle – this was showcased through examples and quantified statistics.  The company’s mission is to accelerate the digital transformation of the industries they serve by optimizing their assets to run safer, greener, longer, and faster.   

Plant Digitalization

Honeywell Process Solutions

Philippe Millette, Global Refining & Chemicals Market Lead at Honeywell Process Solutions, spoke about the latest approaches to better projects, better operations, and improving asset lifespans.   “Today’s projects are larger and more complex, yet more efficient than ever before; but we can still do better,” he said.  In this context he spoke about Honeywell’s technology evolution and solutions for project speed and efficiency, superior operation, and infinite longevity – ultimately transforming project operations.  The layers of protection reduce cyber risk, and the company’s holistic view of cybersecurity incorporates information about processes, assets, and people for real-time risk assessment. 

Honeywell UOP

Christophe Romatier, Senior Director, Product Management, Honeywell Connected Plant, Honeywell UOP spoke about application of digital technologies to drive operational excellence.  The key challenges are: unplanned downtime, human capital, energy and emissions, and asset utilization.  He spoke about the company’s solutions – Process Reliability Advisor and Process Optimization Advisor – and benefits to their customers.  This was substantiated by a case study.   

Digital Technologies to Drive Business Excellence

“Optimizing the hydrocarbon value chain is critical to achieving commercial excellence in an increasingly VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) world,” said Simon Rogers, Vice President of Advanced Solutions, KBC (a Yokogawa company).  The aim of digitalization is:

  • no safety incidents
  • net zero emissions
  • no unplanned outages
  • nimble response to market changes and plant disturbances
  • a motivated and informed workforce
  • a culture of profitability 

“To overcome today’s industrial challenges we have to move ahead digitally,” said Mr. Rogers.  Digitalization enables faster decisions, greater certainty of outcome, and the focus is on value generation.  He explained use cases of optimization with artificial intelligence (AI) and how potential opportunities can be identified by monitoring the index in real time.

Taking this further, Mr. Rogers conducted an interactive workshop on value chain optimization and sustainable development goals. He provided the industry perspectives on adoption of new technologies and asked the attendees about their company’s viewpoint.  Business and financial goals, digital value chain and asset optimization were discussed against the backdrop of today’s challenges.  Case studies on planning and scheduling, system integration, supply chain management etc. effectively showed that the future is digital.    

Digital Transformation Improves Capacity and Revenue

Asian Downstream SummitBob Gill, General Manager ARC Advisory Group, Singapore spoke about how digital transformation has impacted industries, making many devices obsolete.  For instance, if you have a smart phone you don’t need a camera, recorder, calculator etc.  The Industrial IoT enables you to collect and share data more easily; plus store, process, and analyze. 

The typical cost of unplanned downtime in industries:

  • Oil platform crude separation - $20 million per incident
  • Automotive panel stamping - $43,000 per hour
  • CPG packaging - $15,000 per hour
  • Pharmaceutical batch - $500,000 per batch
  • Paper drying line - $31,000 per hour

“In the oil and gas sector, unplanned downtime results in 3-5 percent of lost production,” said Bob.  With predictive and prescriptive maintenance near zero unplanned downtime becomes possible.  And with Industrial IoT and analytics the maintenance and executive KPIs improve.

The countdown for Asian Downstream Summit 2020 (28-29 October) has already begun!

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