A Scalable Approach to Chemical Safety

Scalable Chemical Safety

Cloud-based services are enjoying solid growth in the Chemicals sector as companies capitalize on a key technological benefit: cloud scalability. Though behind other industries the energy, chemicals, and refining industries are beginning to embrace digitization as part of Industry 4.0. The latest industrial revolution involves combining physical and digital technologies to improve efficiency and safety in business operations.

As an early adopter of Industry 4.0 across their entire organization, the Dow Chemical Company saw the value generated by leveraging cloud technologies for chemical safety purposes. As stated in a 2017 interview with AIChE, Billy Bardin, Global Operations Technology Director at Dow Chemical Company, sees “Industry 4.0 [as] an opportunity to use things like data and analytics to improve your operations, to improve your EH&S and process safety performance.1

 

The Cloud, Scalability, and Chemical Safety

A core component of Industry 4.0 is cloud computing. The digital infrastructure of cloud-based solutions is scalable and low cost, which removes the need for vast resources and resolve needed to effectively scale and manage the required digital infrastructure for chemical safety on-site. Cloud infrastructure is also more appealing because the number of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices present at chemical plants is ever growing. The same convergence of information and operational technology that allows manufacturers to utilize smart sensors, analytics, etc., for chemical safety is responsible for skyrocketing network and systems costs.

The Dow Chemical Company was struggling with scalability before they decided to approach data storage, management, and accessibility on a corporate scale. Discussing data accessibility with Plant Services magazine Lloyd Colegrove, Director of Data Services for Dow, spoke about how Dow “stored data in all different places,” which made it difficult, not to mention time-consuming, for employees to access and respond to critical data.2 Further emphasizing the need to leverage cloud storage and computing to centralize and standardize company data, improving collaboration and efficiency.

Leveraging the cloud for chemical safety can reduce the digital infrastructure resources required to effectively scale gas and weather detection while simultaneously improving monitoring and response capabilities of the plant. The cloud allows for greater integration of data sources as well as faster modeling of chemical incident scenarios with minimal site infrastructure requirements. Because of their recent data management initiative, Dow Chemical estimates a return on investment of $1 million to $2 million per plant per year.2

 

Scaling Gas Detection

An additional challenge to scaling the digital infrastructure at a chemical plant is the number of vendors and technologies available for weather and gas detection. Most chemical process facilities and refineries rely on at least a half dozen, if not more, different vendors and technologies for their chemical safety, air quality monitoring, and risk reduction efforts. This means dealing with multiple types of network connections, communication protocols, data loggers, and monitors. Scaling and supporting the facility’s digital infrastructure in this manner can quickly become cost-prohibitive even for the largest enterprise.

SAFER Systems recognized the importance and value of cloud-based infrastructure and developed an integrated cloud-based platform for monitoring, modeling, and mitigating chemical incidents. The SAFER One platform leverages cloud infrastructure and computing to reduce the resources needed to maintain the facility’s digital infrastructure while offering the only solution on the market with dynamic modeling capabilities based on real-time gas and weather data!

 

Resources:

  1. AIChE ChEnected Interview Series: Interview with Dow’s Billy Bardin on “Industry 4.0” and Future Technology
  2. Plant Services: Better analytics produces big savings for Dow Chemical

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