Editor’s Comment: Digital transformation as a key enabler

One of the stimulating outcomes of digitalisation for the chemical plants of the future is that it easily connects expertise across company boundaries during the project planning and execution phases

Martin Menachery is the editor of Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.
Martin Menachery is the editor of Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.

As the year progresses to the end of the first quarter, the key discussion point in the refining and petrochemicals industry around the world is on the key role that digital transformation can play as a key enabler for the industry in the transition to smart operations. It is interesting to mention here that the cover stories of first three months of this year in Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East are focussed on the theme of digital transformation.

In January, we discussed the outcome of a roundtable of digitalisation experts from operators, EPC contractors and technology providers, which discussed how digitalisation can become a key enabler in the chemical plants of the future. As explained in the outcome of the roundtable, one of the stimulating outcomes of digitalisation for the chemical plants of the future is that it easily connects expertise across company boundaries during the project planning and execution phases. And, during the operations phase, beyond connecting subsystems and systems, digitalisation connects people for better productivity.

Last month, we covered the interview of Craig Hayman, CEO of AVEVA. According to Hayman, the digital downstream facilities in 2025 will look much the same as those do today. But how those operate will be in highly efficient manner, how those deliver will be optimal, and how those turn over RoI will be exponential. The level of risk will be minimal and the level of safety will be significantly higher than it is today.

This month, our cover story is derived from an interview with Ali Vezvaei, president and CEO of Bilfinger Middle East. As explained by Vezvaei, transforming a world-class downstream asset and its associated organisation, like most of the operations in the Middle East region, involves at least three main steps – digitisation, digitalisation and digital transformation.

The story elaborates on the respective roles of digitisation, digitalisation and digital transformation. It is worth mentioning here that – as per the story – digital transformation is where the trained human capital (digital workforce) and the digitalised plant interact seamlessly and create value.

The common thread running across all the above cover stories point out that advanced digital knowhow and solutions will unlock potential, both for the asset owners and the eco-system that is formed around them, in the downstream industry of the future.

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