Digitizing Singapore’s chemical ecosystem: an industrial Internet of things

Author:Neha Ghanshamdas
Position:Data analyst, Global Business Reports, Singapore
SUMMARY

*This is an adapted version of an article published as part of a special report on Singapore’s chemical industry. The full report is available at: www.gbreports.com Singapore is on an Internet of things (IoT) crusade. The resource-scarce nation is seeking to leverage its formative strength – talent – to transform itself and add value in the global marketplace by building the world’s first... (see full summary)

 
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With manufacturing, including chemicals and chemical products, representing close to 20 percent of the country’s GDP, the chemical industry factors heavily into Singapore’s Smart Nation equation. Applied in this context, the industrial IoT (IIoT) has the potential to increase the productivity, safety and competitiveness of the chemical industry ecosystem. By helping solution providers overcome the difficult “first-adopter” stage, Singapore’s economy stands to gain first-mover advantage and to establish itself as the IIoT technology and business hub of Asia.

The IoT explained

It is the latest technology buzz phrase, taking not just Singapore but the world by storm. But what exactly does the Internet of things mean and how pertinent is the concept to the world of chemicals?

IoT can be loosely defined as a network of physical objects that are linked to one another through the Internet. More concretely, it refers to physical objects, equipment or machinery fitted with various types of data-collecting sensors. Cloud-based applications analyze the data collected by these sensors, enabling machines to communicate with other machines, applications or users. The application of IoT is not limited to any particular industry, device or user; it can be employed in virtually every sphere of life.

As an example, new smart metering systems in homes digitally provide energy suppliers and end users with consumption data. Smart meters automatically send meter readings to suppliers, and show users how much energy they are consuming in near-real time. The availability of these data results in more accurate energy bills and increased energy awareness among consumers, ultimately leading to cost savings and more sustainable living practices. Just imagine what IoT can achieve at scale, for instance within a large chemical facility.

Improving your bottom line

While IoT debuted decades ago, the concept has only recently begun to gain traction in the industrial space. Why? The answer is simple: data. The sheer quantity of data generated within a process plant or mine site is astounding. According to Accenture’s Chemical Consulting Services, 144 terabytes of data are generated in a mine site in just one hour. To record just one terabyte’s worth on paper would require 50,000 trees to be pulped. Until recently, these valuable data were not being leveraged. But now companies such as Emerson Process Management are stepping in with IIoT solutions. As Vidya Ramnath, the...

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