Overcoming chemical industry challenges

Akash Rathod, Industry Marketing Leader at Flowserve, discusses the urgent challenges that chemical companies are currently facing.

Akash Rathod, Chemical Industry Marketing Leader at Flowserve.
Akash Rathod, Chemical Industry Marketing Leader at Flowserve.

Chemical processes vary widely across the industry, from basic organic and inorganic to specialty and fine chemicals. And the production of biofuels, petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals certainly requires different process conditions and tailored equipment and systems.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution because companies have such unique requirements.

Yet they share fundamental business needs to innovate products and processes. All are looking for solutions to the following urgent challenges:

1. Reduce capital and operating costs to minimize the total cost of ownership (TCO).

2. Protect people and the environment to ensure compliance, safety and avoid risks.

3. Increase energy efficiency to achieve business goals and energy transition objectives.

4. Regulate process conditions to maximize production throughput and consistent quality based on varying demand.

Chemical companies prioritize ways they can optimize capital expenditures and better manage operating costs. Accomplishing both will require investments in reliable equipment that maximizes uptime and reduces maintenance requirements.

High equipment reliability is essential. Chemical plant operators can ensure availability and dependability, minimize unplanned downtime, and reduce maintenance costs over the pump lifecycle with robust design and condition monitoring that extend mean time between repair (MTBR); maximum interchangeability of pumps designed with modular components; quick-delivery programs from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); spare parts kits; and inventory analysis and management services.

Chemical plant operators also need to ensure health, safety and minimize environmental risks. Close-coupled pumps that enclose all moving parts within the pump body, for example, feature no-coupling alignment that prevents the catastrophic failure of bearing systems, while secondary controls reduce leakage if primary containment fails.

As the planet gets warmer, nations and companies are establishing ambitious decarbonization goals to minimize the impacts of climate change. That’s a major commitment for the chemical industry at a time when demand for basic chemicals, plastics and high-value, speciality chemicals is increasing.

The chemical sector is the largest industrial energy consumer. Ammonia production is responsible for the highest share of emissions, followed by high-value chemicals (ie ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene and mixed xylenes) and methanol.

Therefore, chemical companies need equipment, systems and solutions that enable them to remain profitable while minimizing emissions and shrinking their carbon footprint.

Pumps represent up to 60% of total energy costs for chemical companies. Rising energy prices can disrupt operations and put achieving business objectives and energy transition goals at risk.

So the transition to a low- or zero-carbon profile starts by increasing the energy efficiency of current operations. Economical performance is enabled by low power consumption and fast pump-down from the atmosphere. Variable-speed and pressure control can be provided with intelligent drive systems that perform ongoing rotor diagnostics.



World Pumps will host a webinar in partnership with Flowserve, centered around smart vacuum solutions for chemical and pharmaceutical processes, on September 19, 2023. Register for Smart Vacuum Solutions, Optimizing Chemical and Pharmaceutical Processes HERE.