ACHEMA 2024 - Bridges between Chemicals and IT


A blog about our impressions of ACHEMA 2024, the world's leading trade fair for the process industry. As always, we are addressing two audiences: Chemical engineers with an interest in software and IT people who are enthusiastic about the chemical industry. But first, a few impressions in a short 30-second video:

Standards for data exchange and computer-aided engineering at ACHEMA 2024

Established standards, e.g. for data exchange and computer-aided engineering, are an important topic for IT. On Tuesday morning, I found some time to find out more about the DEXPI standard. As part of the PIDMIC3 Congress, I attended two presentations. The topics were 3D modeling and the alignment of DEXPI with a standard from construction planning.

In addition to DEXPI, especially from the perspective of computer-aided engineering, the CAPE-OPEN standard is of particular importance. It provides standardization for thermodynamic and physical properties, process models and simulation environments. These standards are intended to enable seamless integration and interoperability between different software solutions.

Automation solutions from Siemens and Beckhoff

Automation technologies in the process industry are another fascinating topic. I had experience with Siemens Simatic at Dortmund University and so I was particularly excited when I found Beckhoff's impressive booth. It's great that new software solutions in the field of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are improving accessibility. PLCs provide precise control and monitoring capabilities that are essential for process safety and optimization.


In the next season of our YouTube-Video-Serie – Pragmatic Rust for Engineers we will deal with the topic of distillation and implement simulations in the Rust programming language. Anyone who follows our content will have seen pictures of distillation columns in chemical parks, for example. But what's inside? The chemical engineers have the answer. Trays or packings and depending on what is used, there are different pressure losses and mass exchanges. Here is a pictorial impression of what is used internally in columns:

Challenges for IT

IT in the chemical industry faces a variety of challenges. These can be divided into three main areas:

A. DatamanagementThe management of different data throughout the entire life cycle is an important point. Many IT companies offer specialized solutions for this, e.g. for shift planning or maintenance. In most cases, SAP-based systems are used to keep data secure and accessible.

B. DatenanalyseThe analysis of process data to optimize and predict future developments requires powerful analysis tools and algorithms. Efficient database systems and structures are crucial. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are playing an increasingly important role here.

C. Computer-aided Engineering and Design of ExperimentsModern CAE software makes it possible to simulate how systems should be optimally designed for a specific product and raw materials. If the data available for the material systems is insufficient, DoE methods can be used to reduce the costs of experiments. These are planned digitally in such a way that the information gain is the highest and thus the uncertainty in the data is minimized. This saves time and resources.

Outro: The ACHEMA Founder Award at ACHEMA 2024

A cool side event of ACHEMA 2024 is the ACHEMA Founders Award, where 10 finalists pitched on stage. Prize money of €50,000 was awarded to the winners. Great presentations and inspiring ideas! At this point, congratulations to the winners of re.solution.

I also found Frank Thelen's criticism of the mindset shaped by large corporations fascinating. He said: "Don't stick to buying at IBM because you're afraid to lose your job." - and thus criticized decision-makers in engineering. Even with available data showing that a new product is better, there is a lack of will to deviate from the norm of recent years. Out of habit, or perhaps fear, people buy where they have always bought. We agree with Frank Thelen and wish the chemical industry a lot of courage for the challenging decisions of the future.

ACHEMA 2024 offers a unique platform to discover the latest developments and innovations in the process industry. It is worth a visit every time. We hope that this blog has provided a nice overview of the important topics and highlights of the fair. We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

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