Performing an Industrial Manufacturing Plant Trial during COVID-19 Times
Ulf Conrad graduated from the University of Bremen in 2014 with a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. He started his plant chemist career in the spring of 2014 producing API’s at a small company in Switzerland. In 2018, he joined the DSM plant located in Sisseln, Switzerland, close to the German border. TrendMiner was rolled out in this plant in 2019 and since then has enabled the DSM team to unleash the potential of data analytics for the whole site.
In this special blog post, Ulf Conrad, TrendMiner user and DSM Plant Chemist, discusses how he and his team used the platform to run a plant trial during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Platform that Allowed Team Communication & Connection
Performing a plant trial in COVID times was different due to the work distancing measures and with fewer personnel on site and could have proved problematic if not for TrendMiner, which was instrumental in carrying out this trial.
As I worked from home, the operators still on site needed to be my eyes and ears. They used the software’s popular layer function to perform different setups on a batchwise production. They could then share the latest results in an intuitive visual way with the whole team. This platform allowed the team to communication and stay connected and became a better solution for team and plant interaction, improving on the old common way to perform a plant trial.
Even though I had to work at home, by using TrendMiner, the operators were not just my eyes and ears, they became the best link I could imagine in order to make the plant trial efficient and successful.
An Example of Using TrendMiner for a Plant Trial
I would like to give you an example of when and how TrendMiner helped to connect people and in turn sped up one of our plant trials. After we had performed a few batches, the performance of our chemical reaction worsened instead of improving. With the help of the platform’s search and similarity function, our team was able to find and identify the root cause as a failure at a dosing valve (Figures 1 and 2).
The night shift operator shared this information, and by the next morning, the entire team was informed. This valve was replaced by noontime, and we were able to run the next trial batch that evening.
TrendMiner – a Connecting Tool That Improved Our Team & Our Plant
Still the Pandemic is not over, and whenever possible, I stay at home. TrendMiner, as a connecting tool, gave us the possibility to improve ourselves as well as our plant. The current plant trial is finished, and the results are astonishing. We were able to increase the performance of the plant as well as reduce waste. And this is how our company was able to stay competitive and gain value even during COVID-19 times.