Align cultural change with modern process simulation to support the circular economy

Written by Fernanda Martins, Global Marketing Manager, AVEVA

At my first job, I worked for an EPC company as a process engineer. Two activities as a young engineer come to my mind when I think about that time. First, “playing” with the process simulator, the most fun part for me. And second, filing paper documents in a cabinet. What a waste of time! But someone had to do it. The simulator was only available on a few computers, and I had to wait my turn to use it, which often meant working late. It doesn´t sound very productive now, but it was “the normal way” at that time. Lately, however, market dynamics and changes in the workplace demand a completely new approach for engineering and operations. We are moving further away from paper, and the required technology can be available for every worker at any time.

More than ever, the process simulator is a critical tool for the chemical industry. But we need to evolve the way we simulate and interact with other disciplines to provide fast and reliable answers. Today, the market demands innovation for sustainable processes and recyclable products. Environmental regulations are constantly being reviewed, requiring plants to monitor operations and adjust facilities for full compliance. Legacy tools are stuck in the “old normal”, preventing engineers from keeping up with changes to drive the circular economy.

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On the other side, the workplace has changed too. The new generation of engineers brings different expectations for the work environment than my young self. They want to feel productive and execute meaningful work. At the same time, digital technology is affordable and has been proven to ensure higher levels of collaboration and agility so engineers can quickly respond to new market demands. To remain competitive and seek sustainable business, organizations need to take advantage of all that the digital world can offer and transform how work is done.

Process simulation is a crucial enabler of the transformation required to develop the circular economy. It´s the first step to engineer a new facility or modernize an existing asset, while it can also be used to optimize operations. A cloud-based process simulator combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and incorporated into the more extensive digital structure for engineering allows us to find the solution for problems that we could not handle before. When this digital transformation for engineering aligns with a new mindset for work, we can be more productive and more creative than ever. We can unlock the resources to pave the way and build a genuinely sustainable chemical industry.

Experts from Covestro, Evonik, Cranfield University, and AVEVA joined a panel discussion to talk about how process simulation can drive sustainability in the chemical industry. They provided amazing insights and examples based on their extensive experience to help us drive the way to the future.