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AI Upgrade in the Petrochemical Industry at The Forefront of Digital Transformation

As a petrochemical hub, Kaohsiung has played the role of the backbone of other industries over the years. Amid multiple global uncertainties facing the petrochemical industry in recent times, including net-zero emissions and global economic slowdown, digital transformation has become an issue that brooks no delay.

At "Crossover Talks IV: upgrAIde" held by Profet AI in Kaohsiung on December 8, 2022 (Thursday), Paul Hsu, CEO of Asia Giant, Kun-Ta Chuang, a professor at the National Cheng Kung University; and William Chu, Assistant Vice President of Fujian Funeng Co., Ltd. (Formosa Plastic Group), were invited to share their experience and how industrial upgrades could be carried out with the participants.

Crossover Talks facilitate exchanges between clients and industry upgrades

Profet AI Crossover Talks have taken shape since this March and have been held in Taipei, Hsinchu, Taichung, and then Kaohsiung, a hub of the petrochemical industry. "Many of our clients in the petrochemical industry are facing the business cycle, ESG, or AI issues," Jerry Huang, CEO of Profet AI, stated at the opening of the event. He added that Kaohsiung is a hub of clients engaging in the continuous manufacturing in the petrochemical industry; meanwhile, this industry in Taiwan ranks first around the world. He hoped that industry leaders could exchange their ideas of AI applications, future prospects, and plans through Crossover Talks, and stated that Profet AI would also share its observations with the participants for reciprocity while entering the new AI era in the future .

Top priority of digital transformation: Mutual trust and dialogue

Professor Chuang was invited to share his ideas with the guests at the beginning of the forum, Professor Chuang is a professor of the Department of Information Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, and the director of the Center for Research of E-Life Digital Technology. The center is an inter-university entity, with the aim of serving the industry through its academic and research strengths. Its main framework is the ICT integrated capability, including cloud technology and edge computing; the back end includes a big data platform for data withdrawal and the AI modules behind it, while the upper layer includes data analysis other than AI and even data exchange between different business categories. The center works with teachers at various departments in carrying out industrial projects, listens to enterprises' needs, integrates their technologies, as well as assists them in using and adopting technologies in alignment with their needs, thereby facilitating industry-academia-research collaboration together and leading to new forms of industrial upgrades.

Professor Chuang also shared his observations on the digital transformation projects carried out in collaboration with many enterprises. He emphasized that the first element for an enterprise to successfully carry out a digital transformation project is an insightful management team's support and the second is effective dialogue and collaboration between departments, fields, and even companies. As different companies' AI projects may involve different departments and fields, there may be different teams participating in discussions and dialogue to build mutual trust, thereby identifying the most suitable approach for an enterprise.

"Only by gaining mutual trust can we identify the benefits we have not yet seen ." Professor Chuang pointed out that there is a chance of failure when investing resources. If an enterprise aims to become an industry leader during time to market, it should have the courage to invest relevant resources. "With the accumulation of mutual trust during this process, in the end, it will be data ready for all technological issues encountered. At that stage, it [technological aspect] is no longer the most important aspect," Professor Chuang said. He added that how to identify the best projects for dialogue in the initial stage and gradually establish it is the most challenging and critical part in the process. He encouraged enterprises to engage in exchanges with different sectors through dialogue and take the first step.

Right partners produce synergy

Asia Giant, as the co-organizer of this event, celebrated the 34th anniversary of its establishment this year. It has worked with many chemical factories from the design and production of process equipment to the outsourced production of the entire production lines and whole factory export. CEO Paul Hsu, stated that Asia Giant has embarked on the digital transformation journey since 2021 with the smart manufacturing wave. Internally, it improves business management capabilities through digital transformation, while, externally, it takes advantage of this opportunity to establish a new business application model. To be able to undertake this program, in addition to its in-depth development in the industry, the most important thing is that it has chosen the right partner and the right system to accelerate the company's transformation and growth.

The repair and maintenance skills have been the key to enabling Asia Giant to gain deep trust in conventional industries. However, with all that, it still faced recruiting challenges and retirement of senior personnel. Therefore, it began to think about how to turn experience into data by adopting an AI system to pass experience and skills down to other employees. Paul Hsu, stated that conventional industries need to find useful tools and work with the right partners to adopt AI systems quickly and embark on the transformation journey smoothly.

"How can we achieve the best results in the shortest time in the development of enterprises and industries?" Reiterating the importance of finding the right partners, Paul Hsu, pointed out that when Asia Giant began to plan how to install an intelligent monitoring device on a drive mixer, the sensor was installed in the most suitable place through design, and Profet AI's AI-based monitoring system was adopted for data modeling. With data analysts' professional application, Asia Giant began to develop AI applications.

Energy transition is imminent: Resource concentration and self-review of data

As a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Group, Fujian Funeng mainly provides enterprise energy management services and assists the petrochemical industry in transitioning from fossil fuels to green energy. Assistant Vice President Chu pointed out that the key to companies' implementation of ESG initiatives lies in trade requirements. The current international ESG trend is a trade barrier from the perspective of trade. In the future, Taiwan's enterprises must respond to the energy conservation and carbon reduction requirements to sell their products to Europe and the United States. They are bound to make changes and adopt suitable solutions locally to overcome the trade barrier. Otherwise, they may be excluded from the international market or even experience difficulty in operating business due to high export costs.

Chu stated that ESG covers a wide range of issues, and that the petrochemical industry, which has been one of the energy-heavy industries, can start with energy management when considering the compliance with the ESG requirements and suggested that enterprises first examine their status quo, determine the future development direction, and then concentrate resources on it. Enterprises should break through the traditional framework of routines, gain a better understanding of their own operations through data, and then adopt AI tools to upgrade the entire process. Profet AI provides the out-of-the-box AI machine learning tool exactly needed. Solar plants can adopt this out-of-the-box tool to address their maintenance and scheduling problems. Fujian Funeng was established three weeks ago and needed to produce energy in the shortest possible time. With Profet AI, a tool for drawing a baseline, its data experts and resources in the company were, thus, effectively allocated to focus on solving more advanced problems on the existing foundation.

Furthermore, Chu adopted Fujian Funeng's energy storage cabinets as an example to share how the AI tool was used to implement ESG initiatives. Chu mentioned that when an energy storage cabinet is used, if energy is transferred frequently, the battery module tends to be unbalanced. Fujian Funeng adopted AI to set tipping points for the temperature, voltage, and current of the energy storage cabinet to enable predictive maintenance in time before the energy storage cabinet is about to experience a problem, thereby alleviating the burden and risk and accelerating enterprises' ESG endeavors.

About Profet AI Crossover Talks

Profet AI focuses on the sharing of a series of cases of enterprises adopting AI solutions and invites senior experts from industry and academia to share their ideas and interact with each other on different issues and topics. Profet AI kicked off the series of the forums in August 2022 with "AI & the Economic Cycle - AI Creates Opportunities" in Taipei and then held "AI & the Economic Cycle II - AI Creates Opportunities" in Taichung in November. The final forum of the year "Crossover Talks IV: upgrAIde" in Kaohsiung was also wrapped up successfully in December.



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