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Beating the Scarcity Challenge in the Chemical Industry

Published November 30 2021

In this blog series, we will explore the key challenges facing the chemical manufacturing industry. We look forward to providing you with valuable insights and best practices to address these challenges.

Using Resources and Materials Wisely 

Chemical manufacturers today understand that success now and in the future is not only about satisfying product demand, but also about using resources and raw materials wisely. That means maintaining ideal inventory levels, ordering only what is needed, and reducing waste.

The old model of harvesting a resource, making a product, and throwing away whatever is left over simply is no longer viable. If we continue using resources at the current rate, by 2050 we would need the equivalent of three planets to provide the needed raw materials.

A growing number of chemical production businesses are moving away from that use and throw away model, and toward one of using, re-using, and recycling. This is an important step forward, because chemical manufacturers often are directly harvesting or otherwise acquiring natural resources and producing the raw materials needed to create their products. They know firsthand the challenges produced by resource scarcity—and the consequences the industry could face as those resources dwindle.

Reducing waste isn’t just good for the planet, and the future of the chemical industry – it is good for business.

With that in mind, many chemical manufacturers are now embracing technology to more closely track and use all inventory.

For example, working with the Alithya team, one personal care/cosmetics ingredients manufacturer has embraced a digital solution for more efficiently managing and tracking product. After a large batch of product is made, it is poured into large containers, usually drums, to store until it’s time to be packaged for sale to customers. Often, the last drum will not be completely full, and that “lightweight drum” can create a challenge for the manufacturer.

It’s imperative that the company track that lightweight drum and know exactly what’s inside it, down to the batch number. This way, the leftover product in the lightweight drum can be used for testing or creating samples and won’t be mistaken for a full drum that’s ready for packaging.

The Alithya team worked with the company to implement two easy-to-use solutions in Microsoft Dynamics 365. One option allows the company to track the weight of filled drums, making it easy to identify the lightweight one.

The second provides visibility to all the product inventory on hand. For instance, if the company has 730 units available, they can easily see that 500 of those are full drums, and 230 are under-filled lightweight drums. That is just one example of how technology can drive responsible resource management and waste reduction. Manufacturers can also track the availability of waste products that can be repurposed.

Chemical manufacturers have a unique opportunity to be catalysts, driving change throughout the industry. Truly effective waste reduction requires buy-in throughout the industry, and of course must be accomplished with assistance and collaboration of regulatory bodies. However, forward-thinking companies won’t wait for increased regulation before exploring and implementing processes and technologies that drive change.

Managing the Supply Chain

The March 2021 accidental grounding of the container ship Ever Given in the Suez Canal was a dramatic – and unusual – example of supply chain disruption completely out of anyone’s control. But it also serves as a reminder that chemical manufacturers need to manage as much of their supply chain as possible. Replacing weak links, replenishing inventory, forecasting demand – those are areas a manufacturer can understand and improve.

To meet customer demands in a competitive market, effective supply chain management is more important than ever. Leveraging technology to track and use all inventory is simply imperative.


Would you like to learn more about the challenges facing chemical manufacturing today? Download our free eBook now:

Alithya eBook: Beating the Scarcity Challenge