The process industry lab conducts research in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. These industries are of major importance to the Dutch economy, as they account for around 60 % of the total Dutch industrial production. Primarily due to extensive long-term capital investments, these industries tend to be less sensitive to offshoring, and consequently their share in Netherlands’ industrial production has been increasing.
From an operations perspective, there are two important characteristics of the process industry. First, the production processes are highly capital intensive. Second, the gross margins tend to be small. These characteristics imply that the efficient use of resources is a key concern, and makes the process industry unique as compared to other industries. Because of the tight margins, combined with voluminous production, even the slightest lead-time reduction or increase in machine-utilization can lead to a relatively large reduction of total cost, which makes this field very interesting for both academic modeling research and application of these models in industry.
The purpose of the research in our domain is to develop methods, tools, and techniques for operational decision making. The more rigorous models are published and often translated to decision support systems that are implemented in a business environment. Key research topics within the process industry lab are:
The current research focus drifts towards the latter. However, there still is a lot of important empirical work conducted on the former two, where master students are continuing to model important issues faced by different companies within this industry.
The process industry lab has had great impact on the global industry over the last couple of years. Analyzing the achievements of our lab over the past decade, it was estimated that with only a number of key projects, involving companies such as DSM, MSD and SABIC, a total of 1 billion euros in total cost reduction was attained. Moreover, DSM publically stated that research at the OPAC group led to a total of 250 million in savings. Other industrial partners at which regular research work is conducted include Dow Chemical and Styron.
Our lab is involved in a number of (in-company) graduation projects of Bachelor and Master students. Some interesting, recently performed projects are:
Recent and current (joint) research & development projects include the following. These projects are usually conducted in collaboration with other universities and companies. Contact our us if you are interested in teaming up for a new project proposal.