The chemical, pharmaceutical and other speciality chemicals industries are facing customer demands for faster response in the introduction of new products, changes in market requirements, and strong competition in the global market. In order to increase competitiveness and secure business, it is essential to fully address chemical supply chain integration and agile manufacturing. We regard the manufacturing plant, i.e. the engineering side of the chemical supply chain, as one of the key issues that needs to be addressed in improving supply chain agility since traditional chemical plants are often designed for pre-defined products and operational modes, with connections and control systems that are difficult to replace. We propose the concept of reconfigurable batch processes - an innovative design methodology that allows the plant to be reconfigured within hours rather than weeks in order to fulfil the demands of chemical supply chain dynamics. Reconfigurable batch processes have higher agility and flexibility than multi-purpose, multi-product, dedicated batch and continuous processes.
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