Perspectives: From the Editor

-Dow CEO Urges Taking a Broader View

Chemical makers and engineers should lead in tackling major challenges.

By Mark Rosenzweig, Editor in Chief

Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical, foresees a revolution in advanced manufacturing and exhorts chemical engineers to play a key role in it. He has championed advanced manufacturing for some time. Liveris authored the 2011 book "Make It in America: The Case for Re-inventing the Economy" and also served as co-chair of President Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership working group, which in July 2012 issued "Report to the President on Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing."

Liveris, who became CEO of the Midland, Mich., company in 2004 and chairman in 2006, holds a chemical engineering degree from the University of Queensland, Australia. In a lecture in London in early April in conjunction with his receiving the George E. Davis Award for contributions to chemical engineering from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), Rugby, U.K., he explained his optimism but also raised some cautions. Here are some key excerpts from that lecture:

"Yes, chemicals are our stock in trade.

"But too often, I think, we, and others, believe they are the extent of what we can produce — the outer limit of what we can achieve. We believe that we are simply in the commodity chemicals business — or only in the specialty chemical business.

"Well, I think that view — and those terms, which reflect it — are outdated.

"And I think they diminish the opportunities that we — with our singular expertise — may uniquely be positioned to seize.

"Like the opportunity to help master humanity's most pressing problems — from raising the quality of life… to feeding a growing global population… to decreasing our carbon footprint.

"…The most meaningful work is not done — and cannot be done — within a chemical industry that is siloed. The most meaningful work is done at the intersections.

"It happens when we collaborate across boundaries, across industries, across markets and value chains, across disciplines, across all discontinuities.

"It happens when we understand chemistry as an essential — you might even say elemental – part of manufacturing. The grand project of making the things — novel and necessary things — that transform our world and the way we live in it.

"…"I believe our industry — the chemical industry – is at the vanguard of another industrial revolution.

"…Your challenge is not identifying the opportunities 'out there.' Your challenge is seizing them — because they are well within your reach.

"…Our goal should be fostering a new breed of manufacturing sector — an advanced manufacturing sector — in developed and emerging economies both.

"And that is why we need national strategies… even a global strategy… that all is part of an advanced manufacturing agenda.

"…Advanced manufacturing operates at the intersections of sciences and markets.

"…And here is the most critical part: By building advanced, next-generation products, companies and countries will also build capacity for further innovation.

"…I can tell you this: Where production goes, innovation inevitably follows, creating, for countries that get it right, a virtuous and self-sustaining cycle.

"…In a globalized world, advanced manufacturing companies can — and will — set up shop where the talent is.

"…A manufacturing renaissance, first and foremost, requires a smart energy policy — one that prioritizes affordability and security in addition to climate.

"…I have referred to the intersection of sciences — and the intersection of markets. But there is another intersection that the world has failed to navigate and make work in this modern era: the intersection of business, government and civil society at large.

"…What we need now are new business models — for instance, partnerships between businesses and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations].

"…Today, I am more convinced than ever that the chemical sciences and every aspect of the newly emerging advanced manufacturing sector are essential — indeed, elemental — to solving the problems at the most complex intersection of all: the intersection of humanity and this planet.

"…And that is why we must help this next generation of chemical engineers and scientists to innovate... and to solve these problems in a way that protects — and even improves — our quality of life on this overcrowded planet.

"… I believe it is an exciting time to be a chemical engineer — even more exciting than when I became one."

To see his full remarks, go to www.dow.com/company/insights/multimedia/20130405a.htm.



rosenzweigweb.jpgMARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can email him at mrosenzweig@putman.net.

More from this perspective...

Title

Rosenzweig's Ramblings January 2010: Trade Shows Require Rethinking

Chemical Processing's Editor-in-Chief points out that chemical companies continue to face financial pressures. With funds tight for capital expenditures, there's less motivation to send engineers to the show, especially when firms also are curtailing non-essential travel to save money.

 

Rosenzweig's Ramblings June 2010: Plant Security Deserves More Attention

Chemical Processing's Editor-in-Chief has visited more than a few facilities in his time and, frequently, first impressions can be telling. For instance, it's often apparent from a cursory view how well a site is maintained and the quality of housekeeping.

 

Rosenzweig's Ramblings March 2009: Spend Slack Time Smartly

You finally may have a chance to focus on a variety of worthwhile projects.

 

Rosenzweig's Ramblings March 2010: U.S. Lead in Science and Engineering Erodes

Chemical Processing's Editor-in-Chief reports Asian countries are gaining momentum according to the National Science Board's report to the President and Congress on the state of science, engineering and technology in the U.S.

 

Rosenzweig's Ramblings May 2010: Obama Tackles Safety Board Vacancies

Chemical Processing's Editor-in-Chief notes that President Barack Obama announced his first nominees for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB): Rafael Moure-Eraso, Ph.D., to be chair and Mark A. Griffon to be a member. If confirmed, these appointments would bring the board back to a full complement of five members.

 

Rosenzweig's Ramblings November 2009: Take a Safe Approach to Safety Equipment

Chemical Processing's Editor-in-Chief urges readers to not risk finding out whether bargains really will work right.

 

Rosenzweig's Ramblings October 2009: Industry Safety Initiative Deserves Applause

Chemical Processing's Editor-in-Chief notes that the American Chemistry Council is moving proactively to influence legislation.

 

Rust Isn't Sleeping But Many Plants Are

Lack of expertise and effective corrosion-monitoring programs afflicts sites.

 

SOCMA makes a momentous move

Replacing Responsible Care is anything but irresponsible.

 

Savor your slide rule

This long-time symbol of engineering has retained its value, says Editor in Chief Mark Rosenzweig in his monthly column.

 

Security poses an inherent industry dilemma

Industry faces the threat of draconian demands from Congress as chemical plants remain an attractive targets for terrorism attacks, according to Mark Rosenzweig, editor in chief of Chemical Processing.

 

Short Videos Promote Engineering

Winners of inaugural contest focus on the profession's promise and challenges.

 

Sophistication only goes so far

 

Spend Slack Time Smartly

You finally may have a chance to focus on a variety of worthwhile projects.

 

Starting the Year Off Right

 

Stay ahead of your peers

Earning an MBA can take your career in new directions

 

Succession Planning: Avoid a Dumb Move

Stinting on capturing the expertise of departing employees is a false economy.

 

Sustainability Proves Its Worth

Study points to considerable cash flow benefits from better performance.

 

Take safety up a notch

There’s still room to improve industry’s good safety performance, says Editor in Chief Mark Rosenzweig in his monthly column. Mechanical integrity programs generally need more attention.

 

The Big Apple Has A Peach of an Idea

An audacious plan for a new applied-science graduate school attracts major universities.