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Embracing digital plant operations

Accenture research reveals that digital technologies can bring significant improvements to chemical plant operations.


Evolving and converging technologies—sensors, wireless, remote monitoring, advanced analytics, and data management, among others—are enabling revolutionary approaches to chemical plant operations. These can bring significant improvements in terms of costs, productivity, quality, safety, and reliability. However, Accenture/ICIS research found that many chemical companies are failing to take advantage of these digital technologies and are thus missing out on billions of dollars in potential new profits.



Read the May 2015 ICIS Chemical Business article for more information about our digital chemical plant research.

Read the September 2015 ICIS Chemical Business article for more information on how to improve operational reliability through plant digitalization.

Many industry executives recognize the value of a digital chemical plant. In practice, however, they are uncertain about how to proceed or stalled by concerns about the risks and pitfalls of change. As a result, Accenture/ICIS research shows that chemical companies are moving ahead slowly and taking a late-adopter approach to embracing digital plant technologies.

These articles were originally published in ICIS Chemical Business and are being used by permission of the publisher.

Key Findings

Digital technology brings more than incremental improvements to operations. It has the potential to transform plants, enable operational excellence and disrupt the competitive landscape in the industry. Before long, chemical companies will need to make the digital plant an integral part of operations. Based on our experience in other similar industries, those that move quickly to embrace the digital plant—and the disruption it brings—are likely to have a powerful advantage. Delaying now will only result in the need to catch-up rapidly as digital plant capabilities become critical to remain competitive.

Learn more about embracing digital technology in chemical plants with Accenture's Pete Frandina.


The Big Bang of today’s North America shale gas boom that drove chemical industry expansion is likely to be followed by the downward pressures of a Big Crunch. To be on the winning end of this cycle, chemical companies need to begin preparing today. That will require comprehensive digital-plant strategies and road maps for turning plans into action. It will mean looking for opportunities to make digital technologies a core component of new plant builds and existing facility improvements. Perhaps most important, it will require a mindset that sees past the risk to the reward, and a willingness to embrace and exploit the disruption that will be at the heart of the digital plant’s value.