Digitisation on the rise among German chems firms, but data security a challenge – ZEW

Source: ICIS News

2019/01/17

LONDON (ICIS)--The take-up of digital technologies is set to continue through Germany’s chemicals sector, but employee education and tighter data security need to evolve in tandem with that, economic research house ZEW said on Thursday.

More than 80% of German chemical businesses have incorporated some digital applications into their production processes, despite the number of small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) in the sector.

The key applications have revolved around digitally linking elements of the production process, harmonise production and logistics, and improve interaction between customers and suppliers, according to a study ZEW carried out into technological innovation in the chemicals sector.

“In the coming years, most companies in the industry – the majority of which are SMEs – are planning to intensify their use of digital solutions, particularly in the area of digital customer interaction,” said Johann-Peter Nickel, director of German chemicals trade body VCI.

Digitisation could provide additional productivity gains for producers through improved supply chains management, facility management systems or modular facilities, as well as offering the potential for improved research and development practices.

The growing prevalence of digital technology in the sector also requires new employee education and training, as well as tighter security, as trade secrets and customer data will be more exposed to hacks and industrial espionage, according to ZEW deputy research head Christian Rammer.

“Intensified digital technology usage goes hand in hand with more stringent data protection requirements, particularly for SMEs,” he said.