Understanding the Issues

From maintaining accurate inventory records, monitoring chemical warehouse safety requirements of raw materials in inventory, keeping up with fluctuating demands, and working with changing commodity prices, chemical companies today face numerous obstacles that can have a big impact on chemical inventory management, which is already a complex and dynamic task, by industry standards.

To minimize the impact of these challenges it’s important that chemical companies are able to identify and understand what issues exist before they cause too much damage. Unfortunately, keeping an eye on every aspect of inventory management could be the biggest challenge if you don’t know where to start. Here are 4 key things to focus on that can help businesses stay ahead of the competition, and respond quickly to changes in requirements.

1.Accurate Warehouse Inventory Chemical companies cannot accurately plan for changes in the supply and demand of their products if they do not have the latest status of their inventory. When it comes to managing the complex inventory often seen in the chemical industry, even small problems in the warehouse can lead to bigger organizational challenges. To prevent this, it’s important that everything is accurately labeled and stored in the correct locations to efficiently fulfill orders and manufacture products. Effective chemical warehouse management can help companies to save up on a lot of costs.

2.Occupational RequirementsAside from ensuring no harm comes to end users, chemical companies have a huge responsibility for the health and safety of their employees, this starts with knowing exactly what chemicals and raw materials are present at all times, and what hazards they might pose. Company’s need to properly track hazardous materials as well as educating employees on precautions and procedures for handling goods. Hazard communication has repeatedly ranked at the top of OSHA’s list of most-cited violations every year.

3.Fluctuating DemandAnother challenge faced by chemical companies is unplanned fluctuations in the demand for their products. Big jumps in demand can result in either the expiration of raw materials and products, or the inability to produce enough when required, with both scenarios having significant impacts on business operations and revenue. Being able to quickly react to changes in the market, as well as supply chain disruptions can help minimize the impact of these situations and more.

4.Volatile Commodity PricesChemical companies are also forced to deal with wildly fluctuating prices for the raw materials they use. For many products, crude oil and other petroleum products account for about 50% of the material’s production costs. Due to the volatile nature of oil prices, economic factors such as politics, tariffs, and fluctuations in currency value are just a few of the things that play a role in the price of raw materials. One key aspect of chemical inventory management is accurately predicting trends so that companies purchase raw materials efficiently and at cost-effective prices. When chemical companies have enough insight into their own inventory, they’re able to place more focus on buying the materials they need to meet the demands of their customers.

Figure: 1Benefits of a chemical inventory management system

Benefits of a chemical inventory management system

Final Thoughts

While there are a number of other challenges that impact businesses in the chemical industry, not knowing where to focus makes it difficult to efficiently address issues as they arise. Understanding the 4 key factors covered above can help get companies focusing on the right performance metrics, and better positioned to navigate the unexpected ups and downs that go along with the industry.

Often, the best course of action to manage these complex inventory management challenges includes technology-driven solutions that help chemical companies in in-depth chemical inventory tracking, eliminating the issues of not knowing where materials have been stored, keeping track of their safety information, and analyzing inventory trends to better prepare for the demand of customers without keeping too much inventory in stock.

Looking for effective ways to manage your chemical inventory? Book a consultation with XcelPros!

Book Now