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Customer Story

Covestro uses the PI System to achieve sustainable growth — in more ways than one


In many ways, technology life cycles are the opposite of those frequently seen in chemical production. Chemical plants are used for 20 to 30 years or more, while many technologies are here and gone within five years or less. Products are difficult—and sometimes dangerous—to ship over long distances, while information can travel around the world and back in the blink of an eye. However, these dynamics do not mean the chemicals industry has to resign itself to being an out-of-touch dinosaur. Covestro shows how using the PI System can help drive innovation by allowing teams to make data-driven decisions that advance goals in sustainability and many other areas.

Where vertical meets horizontal

Covestro’s strategy was a two-pronged approach: vertical integration within the organization and horizontal or B2B integration with other industry partners. The PI System allowed the company to achieve both by making data more widely available within the organization and to partners outside of it. Internal users benefitted from one version of the truth and a shared understanding of how to address problems, while a more open approach to sharing data with suppliers led to innovation and better service concepts throughout the value chain. “At Covestro, our focus is all around people, planet, profit. We look at our operations, our supply chain, our own production units, and how we ship the product, but also what’s being done with the product and what’s the end-of-use concept for those products,” said Dr. Felix Hanisch, Covestro’s head of process control technology.

“I believe that starting easy, starting simple, actually provides more success than the ‘big bang’ concept.”
Dr. Felix Hanisch
Head of Process Control Technology

Saving the planet while increasing profits

Covestro uses the PI System in STRUCTsee, its three-tiered energy management system. In the first tier, an energy efficiency check aggregates PI System data from all the production plants and delivers it for analysis to process experts and operators who identify potential places to save energy through small modifications, large investments, or by changing how the plant runs. The result is a clearly prioritized project portfolio that the company can use to direct its investment budgets to ensure the projects completed are those that save energy while saving money. Covestro also utilizes PI ProcessBook to monitor energy efficiency on an ongoing basis— down to the minute if needed. The data is visualized in a way that’s consistent across plants and easy for operators to understand on the fly. Finally, the PI System allowed Covestro to standardize its energy and production data, which gave managers the ability to compare plant energy usage side by side, and to put an end to what Hanisch calls “hide and seek” in the data.
system diagramCovestro used the PI System to gain a better understanding of energy usage across its chemical-production plants.

Slow and steady wins the race

As a result of these process changes, Covestro reduced its energy consumption by 30 percent and its carbon dioxide emissions by 39 percent per ton of product. The company is on track to see a 50 percent reduction in both consumption and emissions by 2030—all by making deliberate, scalable changes rather than getting caught up in the hype cycle that’s so prevalent with emerging technologies. Rather than panicking about keeping up with the latest trends and technologies, Hanisch recommends staying the course and keeping an eye on the bigger picture and focusing on how chemical companies can innovate on their own terms, which is exactly the approach Covestro took with the PI System. “We don’t have all the answers, but we have a better understanding of the issues that need to be resolved, and that’s what we’re working on.”

For more information about Covestro and the PI System, watch the full presentation here.

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