One of the most common topics of conversation over the last few years in the chemical industry has been about the change from continuous to batch process production.
In the beginning of my involvement with the Chemical Industry I was an advocate for switching to the batch process method. With the benefit of hindsight this was based on my perspective of the application at that time. Having worked in Operations I was heavily into data and numbers, I believed they would tell you everything and provide the perfect foundation to make a decision, develop what you have, invest in new kit or re-design an entire process.
So, the next step was to find the top 5 key points to encourage someone to discuss the change from batch to continuous production.
- Quality: With greater control and automation in the production process it becomes easier to remove inconsistency in final product quality.
- Waste: The better the quality and the higher the frequency of achieving that quality the less the product waste and re-work required. This has huge returns on baseline production cost.
- Safety: Increasingly an important consideration in the modern workplace, reduction in contact with chemicals through increased automation and the inclusion of built in alarms can add significant safety advantages.
- Space: In bulk manufacturing you have to store bulk products, both pre and post production, by moving to a lower volume continuous production method you can have smaller more frequent deliveries enabling you re-use the old storage facility for extra production lines.
- Cost: In each of these improvements brings a cost incentive to the business, with extra production space, reduced waste or improved quality cost efficiency can be realised in multiple areas.
With advances in metering and control instrumentation it would be remiss to not investigate the potential benefit an investment in continuous production could bring. The potential is there to achieve more predictable final product quality resulting in less re-works and waste product. A reduction in production space required, safer work environment, greater control and flexibility on supply chain operations and the ability to deliver smaller volumes to order increasing your potential customer base.
This has been a great topic to discuss and learn about, I would be more than happy to talk with more professionals in the field of Chemical production and expand my understanding further.