Preparing for the New Normal – Journey to the Plant of the Future

Author photo: Dick Hill


The business and operational challenges that the process industries have been managing and addressing for years, met a new and extremely disruptive force called the COVID-19 pandemic. Although new challenges were presented, businesses needed to find creative ways to continue to meet the business performance required to operate safely and prepare for the New Normal.

The ARC Industry Forum in February 2021 was conducted virtually due to the unprecedented challenges of running a traditional forum, in person, in Orlando Florida. Many participating in this event were able to present very appropriate digital transformation technologies being deployed, and work being performed that will help them prepare for the future.

Plant of the Future

Journey to the Future Has Begun

Howard Elton, Process Control and Automation Leader for Koch Ag & Energy, the ammonia fertilizer division of the Koch companies presented his company’s three to five-year plan that began in 2018. Koch Ag & Energy’s plan consists of three stages: Foundation, Transition, and Transform. He explained that their journey to the plant of the future is about leveraging automation to become fully optimized in terms of safety, capacity, and costs. As Mr. Elton explained, these and other value drivers will be used to identify the new digital transformation technologies required.

The overall vision for their transformation journey included rapid adoption of tools and methods, leading to increased production and decreased risk. It is also important to improve the sense of fulfillment experienced by their employees.


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Keywords: Digital Transformation, Autonomous Operations, COVID-19, Proactive Maintenance, Condition-based Maintenance, ARC Advisory Group.

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