Polymers—those useful chemical building blocks in plastics—play a critical role in helping us build a sustainable and circular future. Covestro leads the polymer manufacturing industry with about 50 chemical plants around the world. By continuously optimizing its processes for high yield and throughput while minimizing machine downtime, the company can efficiently and cost effectively make the innovative plastics and coatings that go into our everyday items. This requires understanding its current operations, which means making sense of the large volumes of machine sensor data, such as temperatures and vibrations, constantly being collected.
Prior to deploying Seeq on AWS, Covestro relied on trend viewer software and ad-hoc data dumps in Excel to analyze machine sensor data. However, those systems provided limited flexibility and required high-technical aptitude, meaning a lot of stones went unturned. As part of its digital transformation, Covestro adopted Seeq software solution to help unlock the value of its industrial data. Seeq provides engineers and data science teams self-service access to powerful analytical tools that they can use to address business issues. By deploying Seeq within its Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment, Covestro further empowers employees to share data capsules, models, and insights between locations and drive efficiencies at scale.
Legacy Factory Systems Make it Hard to Optimize Processes
Covestro is a polymer manufacturer of polyurethanes, polycarbonates, and specialty coatings. Its products lie at the heart of many of our everyday items. Manufacturing companies use Covestro’s polyurethanes to build car seats, furniture, mattresses, housing materials, and sports equipment. Its polycarbonates make an excellent glass or metal substitute for items like smart phone screens, cars, roofing materials, and medical equipment. And the company’s coatings, adhesives, and specialties offerings provide innovative options for robust floor coverings, functional textiles and even longer-lasting cosmetics. The success of the company relies on its ability to optimize manufacturing processes, increase yield, and decrease waste. Today the organization does this by using factory machine data stored in OSIsoft PI servers on-premises to run preconfigured reports in trend viewer software or by pulling data into Excel for ad-hoc analysis. As data volumes have continued to grow, the leadership team at Covestro realized the complexity of its data pull-and-dump strategy made it prohibitively challenging and expensive to keep up with modern technologies designed for advanced analytics. To stay competitive with other chemical companies, Covestro needed to bring data-driven insights into its everyday decisions. This meant delivering real-time, actionable information about factory machines and production processes to people in the boardroom, on the frontline, and everywhere else in between.
Migrated Seeq to AWS to Streamline OSIsoft PI Data Usage and Sharing
The Covestro leadership team made a strategic decision to adopt Seeq software, which provides self-service access to a set of tools that can be used to rapidly analyze, predict, and share insights into process manufacturing. Seeq puts time series databases to work by connecting to dozens of sources all over the world—both on-premises and in the cloud—without moving, aggregating, or transforming the data. “Seeq enables us to analyze more of our production data and answer more questions, which in turn helps us learn our processes better and produce products of higher quality in a more efficient fashion,” said Bram Bamps, Data Analytics Expert at Covestro. “With Seeq, we can do almost everything we want with data and analytics all in one tool.”
“The Seeq UI provides a wizard-type experience that makes it easy to search capsules and create models.”
- Bram Bamps, Data Analytics Expert, Covestro
The leadership team didn’t stop there, though. While they understood the value of making data more readily accessible and easier to use at the plant level, they also saw the potential of running Seeq in the cloud to enable global distribution of data and insights and leverage the economies and technologies of the cloud. The team decided to deploy Seeq on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) M5a Instance as a virtual workload managed by the in-house cloud team. “As the application provider, we leverage the strong security parameters of Amazon EC2 on AWS to provide our customers with global availability and cloud performance at scale,” said Megan Buntain, AWS Alliance Manager for Seeq.
“We leverage the strong security parameters of Amazon EC2 on AWS to provide our customers with global availability and cloud performance at scale.”
- Megan Buntain, AWS Alliance Manager, Seeq
Prevent Unplanned Downtime for Maintenance
Covestro uses Seeq to monitor asset health in real time and schedule maintenance; proactive insights like this help the company prevent lost production time, wasted materials, and unnecessary service calls. Seeq applications work by pulling sensor data from OSIsoft PI databases and calculating KPIs on the fly. The KPIs provide insights into anomalies or trends that may require further investigation. Using linear regression analyses, Seeq software helps Covestro employees anticipate when equipment will need to be cleaned or serviced so they can schedule downtime and mitigate disruption. In the past, these types of calculations took days to run and often required a data scientist. Seeq generates these measurements automatically in minutes through an easy-to-use interface. For example, Covestro used a set of tags to help it create a model of the heat transfer coefficient. The coefficient predicts when fouling in the heat exchanger will affect production quality. Factory operators use those predictions to schedule when to remove built-up solids from the heat exchanger.
Provide Self-Service Access to Relevant Data and Analytics
Seeq combines a wide range of capabilities in one easy-to-use tool that helps people of all skill levels uncover data insights. From basic functions like trend view, value search, or profile search to advanced analytical capabilities, Seeq empowers users to interpret data in a self-service fashion. “The Seeq UI provides a wizard-type experience that makes it easy to search capsules and create models,” said Bram. Capsules consist of interesting sections of time series data that a person can easily integrate into models for ongoing analysis. “The way Seeq integrates capsules into the software creates significant value for us,” explained Bram. “I like to say that if trend views are the bread of analytics in the process industry, the capsules that Seeq lets us define are the butter—both are extremely valuable for insights into what's happening inside our plants.” Furthermore, Seeq makes it easier to combine these capsules with other data sources to better understand the context of a production run or process. For example, using batch or location data with production data helps the team identify conditions conducive to higher yields.
Going forward, Seeq and AWS will continue to work closely to support the global rollout across all locations, which will help Covestro unlock years’ worth of data and leverage additional analytical capabilities available through integrated AWS services.
Covestro is a global polymer company. It focuses on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative, sustainable solutions for products used in many areas of daily life.
Founded in 2013, Seeq publishes software applications for manufacturing organizations to rapidly find and share insights. Companies across industries rely on Seeq to improve production outcomes, including yield, margins, quality, and safety.
Published October 2021