Digitalization and the Internet of Things are growth drivers in the chemical industry, and we are actively exploiting their advantages and shaping their development. Digital innovation provides new ways of connecting people with machines and of exchanging information. It enables us to seize opportunities in various areas: it makes our processes more cost- and energy-efficient, it enhances our customers’ journey throughout the world of Covestro, and it facilitates new, digital business models that benefit our customers.

Digital solutions are making life easier today in many respects. Through digital tools and methods, we want to push boundaries in the chemical industry and, above all, make our customers even more successful in their businesses. To make this possible, we are leveraging our decades-long experience towards future-oriented capabilities.

Covestro pursues digitalization along the three dimension digital operations, digital customer experience, and digital business models. The first two dimensions focus on digitalizing today’s business model, whilst digital business models deal with entirely new revenue streams.

Digital operations

Smart and integrated data handling helps us make our production processes much more efficient and increases availability. One example is so-called Mobile Maintenance. This connected mobile technology helps to reduce paperworks in maintenance and thus supports to anticipate the failure of a certain component – e.g. a valve – before it actually happens. Maintenance measures can be planned and structured more efficiently without paper documentation, resulting in increased planned runtime and reduced maintenance costs.

Covestro also actively seizes the opportunities and is driving digital technologies and processes in research and development (R&D) in its operative business with a comprehensive program. Investments in the expansion of the company's computing capacity are a central element. The powerful computing heart for digital research is located in Leverkusen and will be continuously expanded in the course of next year. The planned hardware expansion will significantly increase computing power through high-performance computing and thus digitally support worldwide R&D activities. In addition, Covestro cooperates with competent partners such as RWTH Aachen University. This development is a further component of the digitization strategy, which comprises the three dimensions Digital Operations, Digital Customer Experience and Digital Business Models.

Communicating with customers on all channels

Covestro is leading the chemical industry with its plans for fully integrated digital communication with business customers. They are to receive more effective after-sales support, from the first product idea to ongoing service, above and beyond all the digital channels. We want to provide a modern and seamless offering across all digital touchpoints by focusing on relevant journeys and offering touchpoints for “moments-that-matter”.

In this way, we strengthen the collaboration with our customers. Digital tools provide us with a deeper, more detailed understanding of the contact points between our clients and ourselves. What are customers searching for? What do they buy? What do they want to know? As soon as we can answer these questions, we are able to build a smooth customer journey – from product search via purchase decision to the final delivery process.

Digital business models

The digital world offers entirely new ways of doing business for and with our customers, and this is where the greatest potential of digitalization lies. Take, for instance, a new digital commerce chemistry marketplace which is to be launched globally. Business customers can then efficiently purchase standard products online from Covestro’s range of polymers at current market prices. Designed on the basis of customer needs, it is currently in the testing phase. There are also plans to market certified basic products and services from other suppliers via the new platform. Already in place is an offering of our products on a third party platform – so called 1688.com. That is the B2B sales platform of Chinese internet giant Alibaba. We started our own flagship store in April 2018, offering about 50 products from all of our three business units right from the start. The store is targeted at the big group of small to medium sized customers that can’t be efficiently served through our existing platforms and thus opens not only the digital hemisphere in one of the biggest markets in the world, but also targets a different group of customers.

Another digital business model driven forward by Covestro is the real-time analysis of data from our customers’ production plants, e.g. in the flexible foam industry. With the right programs, we are able to measure precisely how our materials perform at our clients. We combine external processing data with our own production data, deriving instant processing and formulation adjustments for our customers. They profit from lower scrap rates and/or product failures.