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Chemical Processing Polls: Gain Insights On Topics and Trends

Oct. 3, 2021
Our monthly polls and economic overviews cover important issues

In a world where people overshare many aspects of their lives — from dinner choices to politics — it’s nice to focus on straightforward questions. Our anonymous polls offer readers a chance to help us benchmark the industry one quick question at a time.

We’ve been polling our audience monthly for years and we have a rich database of past results. From ethics to workforce issues, we query readers about real issues they face at their facilities. The questions are designed not just to satisfy our curiosity but also to give us insights about trends and prospective topics to cover, which in turn helps us better serve engineers designing and operating plants in the chemical industry. The answers to these questions also help respondents understand where they stand in terms of critical topics faced by their peers.

With a workforce that’s experiencing an exit of seasoned engineers, we asked readers how often they rely on specialists at vendors for technical expertise lacking at their sites. Only 3.2% said never; nearly one-quarter (22.3%) said often and 47.3% said sometimes.

In terms of environmental issues, we wanted to know how the attention sites give to water resources has changed over the past three years. Only 0.6% said it decreased significantly; 28.7% said it increased significantly.

As for asset management, a current poll posed this question: How much progress has your site made on the path to predictive maintenance? More than half (53.6%) said some or a lot — it was an even split of 26.8% for both answers. Just 6.3% reported no progress at all.

Looking toward the future of the chemical industry, we asked readers how aware they are of efforts related to open process automation. More than one-third (36.4%) are not at all or only slightly aware; 31.4% are somewhat aware and 28.1% are very aware.

This information gives us plenty to ponder in terms of future stories as well as areas to focus on regarding webinars, podcasts, news coverage and whitepapers. It also alerts readers to what they might need to work on in their own facilities. In addition, vendors value this information because it tells them where the holes are in their campaigns to serve customers.

Poll questions aren’t the only way we help readers feel the pulse of the industry. We also feature a monthly Economic Snapshot. Our database goes back to 2013 and provides a quick overview of how the U.S. chemical industry and the overall U.S. economy are doing. Each month it tracks two chemical-industry-specific indicators: shipments and capacity utilization. It also includes data on the Chemical Activity Barometer. This metric, a leading economic indicator for the overall U.S. economy, developed by the American Chemistry Council, takes into account that chemical industry activity occurs early in the supply chain.

The most current metrics as of press time (numbers are from July 2021) indicate that shipments rose, capacity utilization slipped and the Chemical Activity Barometer remained steady.

Management guru Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Whether that’s workforce issues or capacity utilization, you must understand where the bars are and if you meet them or need to work on things. Our polls and snapshots are meant to point you in the right direction to search for answers within your own facilities.

Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's Executive Digital Editor. You can email her at [email protected].

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