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Continuous Improvement in the Age of Volatility

By: Alp Kucukelbir Alp Headshot BW
• September 2020
Limate fero

Last week was Climate Week NYC, which takes place alongside the UN General Assembly. The timing is significant, as the United States are experiencing massive wildfires in the West and a tangible increase in Atlantic hurricane activity — both caused by a rapidly changing climate.

Weather-related disruptions are only one facet of an increasingly volatile market. In the next decade, industrial companies will have to decarbonize their processes, reduce emissions, and quickly adapt to recycled material supply chains. Firms that are slow to adapt will fall behind their competition.

Luckily, industrial companies are good at handling volatility. Processes, assets, and plants have been perfected to reliably produce high quality goods, by minimizing variability in production. However, these processes make critical assumptions: stable access to raw input materials, dependable supply chains, and a balanced climate that could absorb a certain level of emissions.

These critical assumptions no longer hold true. Industrial firms must contend with these new sources of volatility. Moreover, they must become capable of rapidly adapting to future shifts.

Firms can adapt to this new reality by following three steps.

First, they should measure what matters. As part of their digitization strategy, firms should focus on quantifying the properties of raw materials, measuring emission quantities, and tracking how these shift according to operating regimes and production types.

Second, firms should empower their workforce to make sense of their own data. This means enabling both their operations and data analytics staff to use data-driven methods, such as machine learning, to optimize their processes.

Last, firms should adopt an integrated process optimization approach, where new sources of volatility are coupled with production economics to jointly optimize product quality, costs, and environmental impact.

Fero’s machine learning software enables this workflow. Domain experts can use Fero to discover how their process reacts to variations in raw materials, identify ways of reducing emissions, and make real-time optimizations that integrate production costs — and do all of these on a continual basis.

Ask for a demo to learn how Fero can empower your firm to adapt to this new age of volatility.