According to my diary, I should be in Budapest this month. I was rather looking forward to it – after all, it is a beautiful city, with good food and wine, plenty to see and do, and nice people too. Oh, and that was where EPCA was to hold its Annual Meeting this year. So, if all had gone to plan, I would be sitting now somewhere alongside the Danube, glass of beer in hand, having interesting HCB-related chats with important people from the European petrochemical industry.
Instead, I am still in my home office, enjoying the last of the summer weather, and communicating with the world by means of one of the many software systems that have sprung up to keep us all working virtually during the travel and other physical restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. By comparison, those old workhorses of mobile phone and email seem now rather quaint and old-fashioned, but they still work well enough for most purposes.
EPCA itself, in common with other organisations and commercial outfits that put on the conferences and events that help us do business together, has had to re-imagine how its Annual Meeting can work in this virtual world and, as several pages in this issue of HCB reveal, has come up with some ideas as to how best to keep the conversation flowing.
And there is plenty to talk about. The disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – as well as by rapid fluctuations in chemical feedstock prices, growing geopolitical tensions and the increasing demand for action on climate change – have thrown an unforgiving spotlight on inefficiencies within the supply chain. Those that have been able to respond fastest have had an advantage in the market – and the one common factor seems to be that they have all gone at least some way on the digitisation journey.
Being able to quickly switch from office-based operations to home working was a critical issue for many and one that was enabled best by having digitised systems and platforms in place. Being able to locate and monitor transport assets out in the real world was also a major benefit for many logistics service providers, again with the assistance not just of ‘track and trace’ systems but integrated telematics with real-time visibility, linked to ERP and other systems to help operators make sure they could plan ahead with at least some confidence.
It is clear from HCB’s conversations with many operators in the chemical logistics arena that the pandemic has accelerated the uptake of digitised systems and platforms. It is also apparent that both they and their business partners have realised that investment in digitisation delivers rewards. Those rewards go further than just improved efficiency in operations, though: they include better relationships between the various players in the supply chain, better customer service, better care of the health and safety of personnel in the field, and – something that may not have been expected – better performance in terms of sustainability and carbon emissions.
EPCA’s Annual Meeting will try to look ahead to a post-pandemic world but it seems inevitable that the gains that digitisation as a concept has made within this industry, so often slow to embrace new technologies, are here not just to stay but to grow and to realise even greater benefits for all.
Peter Mackay[post_title] => Editor's Letter from home [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => editors-letter-from-home [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-09-28 07:54:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-09-28 06:54:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://hcblive.com/?p=28212 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )