Security and safety are ranking on the top for the chemical logistics, which is digitalizing with a fast pace along the rest of the chemical industry. For all the products transported, but especially with hazardous and specialty goods, it’s important for the companies to be able to track the location throughout the whole process. With the developed digital devices and opportunities, it’s possible to ensure the right product arrives at the right time to the end location. “The pressures for better transparency, accuracy, productivity, and safety are driving the need for greater connectivity in the supply chain” states Bruce Stubb, Honeywell SPS director of supply chain industry marketing.
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Simple changes in the supply chain and logistics can have a major impact on sustainability. Regarding transportation, innovation for trucks can be improved in many ways. As previously mentioned about monitoring the trucks to have the correct level of humidity and amount of light, also the structure of the trucks will make a difference. For example, HOYER Group has started offering tanks which are constructed of composite materials instead of stainless steel. “Due to the lighter weight of these tanks, 2,000 kg more of liquid chemicals can be handled within the defined payload of transport, thereby reducing travel, costs, and CO 2 emissions,” says Andreas Essinger, director of sales and business development at HOYER Group’s Chemilog unit. Also a Swedish company Scania has as well upgraded their truck vehicles by developing a concept truck without a cab. However, it’s important to remember that in the ever-growing digitalizing world, the personnel in the companies needs to be trained well to utilize the new solutions and opportunities. To aim for the best outcome with sustainability, the employees need to be up-to-date for example about the handling and transportation of hazardous materials.
Digital Evolution Taking Over
Smart devices, such as GPS and voice-directing, are evaluating and taking the chemical logistics to the next level and the leading companies are taking advantage of this. For example, Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions (SPS) offers voice-directed systems that are integrated into the headsets guiding the personnel through the checklist of preventive maintenance or inspection work. This helps to prevent human errors because the system guides the user through the process and decreases paper-based work.
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Creating cloud-based solutions for tracking improves the transparency, accuracy, and safety needed especially with hazardous chemicals or pharmaceutical ingredients. German company BAYER AG, listed in the first place on top 10 pharmaceutical companies in Europe, wants to improve the quality of life for a growing amount of population. Stubb mentions that “In Europe, for example, manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and other controlled substances, like explosives, are required to accurately track their shipments throughout the entire supply chain. They need to document each time a shipment passes through various stages or changes hands”. Honeywell has developed this solution to help to track the products, from the whole pallet all the way to a single item. The trucks can be monitored to ensure safe transportation, which is extremely important with sensitive pharmaceutical products because there are strict levels for a high amount of humidity or exposure to an excessive amount of light.
Batteries play an important role in logistics monitoring because of the batteries which power a fleet of assets and this means they need to be properly charged and maintained to ensure the high-performance operations. As it is mentioned in Chemical Engineering “Not only does the system measure those key metrics of battery health, it also provides status data on how the battery is being used, how many hours it is in service and when it is idle and available to be charged.”
The most recent news regarding the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been published for the award of lithium-ion battery and the about $1 million prize is shared equally between three winners: John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino. Goodenough, at the age of 97, is the oldest laureate for Nobel Prize ever and many scientists believe he deserves the top honor for the chemistry. The revolution of batteries is changing since there are more sustainable ways to produce them and the batteries are used for more various devices, such as smartphones and charging cars. As Gavin Harper, a research fellow at the Faraday Institution and an expert in renewable energy at the University of Birmingham, states “The lithium-ion battery is shaping the modern world in ways that couldn’t have been anticipated when it was first discovered.”
The discovery of lithium-ion batteries in the 1970s during the oil crisis. Whittingham was doing research on energy-rich materials and this led to an invention of the first rechargeable lithium battery. However, there were existing possible problems such as overheating and exploding, where Goodenough and Yoshino stepped into the picture with safer and improved solutions. Goodenough came up with the key material, which had an impact on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. As Mitch Jacoby mentions in a podcast by C&EN “That’s the battery found in billions—that’s with a b—billions and billions of smartphones, laptops, tablets, all kinds of portable electronics, power tools, electric vehicles, and other gadgets big and small.”
New digital solutions, such as voice directing and improved trucks for transportation, have already arrived in chemical logistics and his helps the chemical industry to be more effective, accurate and even aim for better sustainability. Leading companies, such as HOYER Group, Honeywell, and Scania are showing a great example of their actions to the rest of the chemical industry. However, the power isn’t only in the hands of big corporates, but also in the individual input matters. No matter the age, any of us can make changes, be innovative, and perhaps receive a Nobel Prize for it!