The changing landscape for manufacturers

Chemical companies

The New Normal involves three major transformations in the nature of consumer markets:

• The increasing size of the New Old 55+ age group in the West
• Too many young people struggling with higher unemployment
• Large number of people moving out of poverty in the developing world

These are the great opportunities for future growth, if our economy can be adapted to serve their needs. Chapter 9 of our new ‘Boom, Gloom and the New Normal’ e-book looks at the implications for chemical manufacturing.

Today, and in the future, we need to focus on the megatrends which will drive future demand growth.

In the fields of water and food, we should focus on reducing the amount of waste, and the output that is lost when product is moving to market.

In developing new products and services for the over 55s, we should focus on core needs, such as food, water, health, shelter and mobility.

This will enable us to ‘do more with less’. We will reduce carbon footprint, and enable output to be afforded by the maximum number of people.

These changes in market drivers will have a profound impact on how, and where, products are manufactured.

Manufacturing processes will need to change in many companies as we transition to the New Normal. Quality will matter more and more as we move away from the ‘throwaway society’ of the past couple of decades.

So will approaches such as Process Intensification. This involves reducing the size of chemical and plant equipment, and can often enable companies to lower capital and operating costs whilst reducing waste.

The chemical industry has long been an enthusiastic champion of the importance of Quality management. It was one of the first to appreciate the importance of the concept of the ‘learning organisation’ that was originally brought to the West from Japan.

But in the early 2000s, the Quality movement seemed to stall. Many of the people who had launched this revolution retired. More worryingly, some companies began to forget that Quality was a process, and had to be reinforced by senior management at every possible opportunity.

Now, we need to relearn that having the right corporate philosophy is the critical starting point. This includes a focus on benefiting wider society, good leadership, and on rooting out inefficiencies through getting everybody involved in processes and problem solving.

Chapter 9 will hopefully help companies to ensure that manufacturing delivers the competitive advantage that is required as we transition to the New Normal.

Click here to download a 2 page summary of the Chapter .
Click here to download the full Chapter
Click here to view the 6 minute video with Paul Hodges


5 Risks to China's growth story


China’s economic growth has become more and more unbalanced over the past ...

Learn more

Companies remain cautious on the outlook


Q3 results showed chemical companies being cautious over the outlook. Q4’s...

Learn more
More posts
Polyethylene’s crisis will create Winners and Losers

Polyethylene markets (PE) are moving into a crisis, with margins in NE Asia already negative, as I h...

Day of reckoning approaches for US polyethylene expansions, and the European industry

Planning for future demand in petrochemicals and polymers used to be relatively easy during the Baby...

Stormy weather ahead for chemicals

Four serious challenges are on the horizon for the global petrochemical industry as I describe in my...

Ethane price hikes, China tariffs, hit US PE producers as global market weakens

Sadly, my July forecast that US-China tariffs could lead to a global polyethylene price war seems to...

US ethylene prices near all-time lows as over-capacity arrives

US ethylene spot prices are tumbling as the major new shale gas expansions come on line, as the char...

World Aromatics Conference focuses on key industry challenges

Our 16th World Aromatics and Derivatives conference takes place on Wednesday/Thursday in Amsterdam. ...

Hurricane Harvey will turbocharge move to the circular economy

300,000 homes and half a million cars have been destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.  And in terms of bus...

Plastics demand is peaking as circular economy arrives

The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.  Similarly, coal is being left in the ...


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more