Why it’s time for the Chemicals Industry to move away from paper processes

In a blog for Sapphire Systems, global provider of ERP and accounting software, Martyn Ivey examines how chemical manufacturers can employ technology to improve the processes that lie behind the production of an accurate Certificate of Analysis…

In a recent global poll of business leaders, results found that when it came to CEOs of chemical companies, uncertain economic growth, exchange rate volatility and geopolitical uncertainty are perceived to be the biggest threats to their organisations’ growth prospects. Today’s chemical manufacturers face a whole host of challenges alongside these much publicised geo-political and economic factors, including government regulations, customer demand and global competition, all against a backdrop of the ever-present risk that operating in the chemicals sector brings. Chemical businesses need to not only manage these pressures accordingly, but also need to seek new ways to enhance the organisation’s operational performance and ultimate profitability.

Perhaps the biggest pressure faced by the industry is the need to comply with a wide variety of regulatory and government requirements, with the increasingly rapid and wide-spread publicity given to recalls and quality audits making it necessary for businesses to respond more quickly and sensitively than ever before. This necessitates the maintenance of strict quality management and detailed product information, protecting against unforeseen compliance issues and helping to resolve any quality issues that might arise.

A key part of compliance is the provision of a Certificate of Analysis for every product that’s produced. This document confirms that a regulated product meets the full list of stringent specifications. Not only must the certificate itself be totally accurate, but the process by which the certificate is generated must be optimised too, with the right systems in place to fully support this crucial aspect of chemical manufacturing.

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Designed specifically for use in process manufacturing environments, the right software can provide the necessary levels of functionality to ensure that Certificates of Analysis are no longer a major headache for chemical businesses. The most robust of solutions will underpin each step of the manufacturing process, leaving nothing to chance and storing all the relevant data in a single, integrated system. Too many chemical companies are still relying on manual processes and sheets of paper to track quality control and approval processes.

Robust software will help you ensure all the necessary elements are covered. So traceability requirements are automatically taken care of, with controls in place to trace the genealogy of products and their ‘ingredients’, reviewing all documents and procedures associated with picking and receiving inventory, and facilitating a forwards and backwards view along the production process.  Quality control tools manage the quality process through from goods-in to customer delivery, with business alerts in place to communicate when tests are required, and actual quality control test results are automatically stored against batch properties.

The right system furnishes a business with the precise methodology to define all the information and compliance data that’s required to fully describe a product. This includes not only batch details, such as batch numbers, expiry dates and shelf lives, but classifications such as toxic and non-toxic, as well as defining the physical and chemical characteristics of a product too. It’s the amalgamation of all this information, stringently gathered and stored at every step of the manufacturing process, that provides the necessary data to automatically produce accurate, water-tight Certificates of Analysis for every product.

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In an industry so heavily exposed to risk, companies live and die by their diligence. The existence of solutions which help to mitigate against these ever-present risk levels, ensuring full compliance with both industry and government regulations, can help to ease the burden on chemical businesses, increasing efficiencies and enabling the business to focus on steadying the ship in the turbulent markets of 2017.

What should chemical manufacturers look for in a solution?

The solution should be designed to meet the very specific needs of the chemicals sector.
Ease of use is vital, there’s no point in adding another level of difficulty to already complex operations.
Not all solutions provide the granular level of detail needed for the chemicals industry. Make sure your chosen system does.
Working with a partner with experience in the chemicals sector will make life much easier when choosing the right system and when it comes to implementing it too.
Find out more about the solutions available to the chemicals industry or join our next educational masterclass for free advice on selecting a solution.

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