The Record - Issue 20: Spring 2021

110 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om V I EWPO I NT How Covid-19 boosted digital transformation RAV I GOP I NATH : AV E VA Industrial enterprises have adopted digital technologies to overcome operational challenges during the pandemic, which is helping them to move rapidly towards the connected workplace of the future “Organisations will increasingly move from automated to autonomous operations” O ver the past 12 months, the Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed how organisations across the industrial sector operate, forcing them to quickly adapt to a radically different business environment to stay competitive. However, at the same time, it has also empowered businesses to accelerate their digital transformation projects, many of which had already been embarked on before the pandemic. By leveraging digital technology as an enabler for the shift in their operations, these organi- sations were able to create a solid foundation on which to build and deploy strategies for the new business environment. The projects that were already approved or in construction mode have continued to progress, but with the caveat that the cost of project execution was materially reduced. For engineering, procurement and construction companies, driving efficiencies to reduce the execution cost of lump sum turnkey contracts has become central to their digital transformation efforts. Petrochemical product manufacturer SCG Chemicals, for example, used virtualised operat- ing and engineering information from its assets to create a 3D virtual plant and ensure safe and reli- able operations. It was able to integrate multiple data sources with rich analytics to predict issues and prescribe remedial actions. It also used arti- ficial intelligence-infused mobile operator solu- tions to increase efficiency and reduce errors. Meanwhile, gas and oil company Petronas has replaced its legacy tools with digital technolo- gies to expedite decision-making processes and allow it to leverage common information across multiple sites, while also eliminating value leaks from inconsistent data. This has decreased crude oil evaluation time, optimised fuel and electricity consumption at each refinery site, and increased margins across the supply and distribution network. Many of the experiences and lessons learned over the past year have already started to define what the future of the industrial enterprise could be. Demand and supply will continue to be volatile, so companies will need to remain operationally resilient and agile. They will have to set up information and processes across the procurement, planning scheduling, production and distribution value chain to enable informed decision-making and allow them to rapidly respond to shifts in demand and supply to miti- gate the impact to the bottom line. Sustainability will also be an increasing focus. Demand patterns have already shifted to clean energy, natural resource conservation and health centre consumption. Meanwhile, capital projects will focus on building assets that are designed for sustainable operations. Product mixes will shift to addressing the new demand patterns, supply chain and production will be targeted towards