Chemical

Overcoming Chemical OSHA Compliance Challenges using Technology

Overcoming OSHA Compliance Challenges in the Chemical Companies using Technology

Overcoming OSHA Compliance Challenges in the Chemical Companies using Technology 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Differing definitions of what’s considered hazardous makes it tough for chemical companies to comply with rules that could vary from region to region.
  • Chemical companies face daunting regulatory and operational challenges when complying with workplace safety rules.
  • Finding ways to make compliance smoother is crucial to chemical companies.
  • Using modern technological tools such as Integrated Chemical Management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 (iCM) can help chemical companies comply with complex, confusing rules and regulations.

Introduction

The chemical industry is constantly under increased scrutiny due to potential health and safety risks inherent to its workforce. These companies continuously face challenges following current regulations, applying updates, ensuring accurate documentation and following labeling guidelines. Chemical companies need to be able to carry out hazard determinations, have a full understanding of applicable regulations and stay up to date on OSHA guidelines. Those that don’t, risk exposing themselves to additional inspections and the possibility of serious fines. Thankfully, more companies are finding that compliance ratings can be improved using cutting-edge tools and technologies.

Occupational exposures, exposure to lead and acute poisonings resulting from unsound management are estimated to account globally for 1.3 million deaths.Source: The World Health Organization

Regulatory Compliance Challenges

Some of the regulatory compliance challenges facing chemical companies include:

  1. 1.Data Management: Regulatory changes can require wholesale updates to a chemical company’s data management system. “The Final Rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses does not add to or change an employer’s obligation to complete, retain and certify injury and illness records. It only requires certain employers electronically submit some of the information from these records to OSHA,” the department states. Complying with this rule may require costly updates.
  2. 2.Geographic Barriers: Chemicals are used, supplied and manufactured worldwide. The definitions of hazardous chemicals can change with every region. Having to include environmental and workplace safety laws that can vary from state to state, not just country to country, makes it tough for companies to stay on top of the laws.
  3. 3.Language Barriers: Moving chemicals from one part of the planet to another means manufacturers and shippers are also likely to run into different languages, which can add problems.
  4. 4.GHS Labeling: OSHA states the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of Classification and Labeling “provides a common, coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazardous information stored on labels and data safety sheets,”. GHS also helps reduce trade barriers and increase productivity for American businesses that handle, store and use hazardous chemicals. Complying with GHS standards, which OSHA has enforced in the United States since 2012, requires chemical containers to have a harmonized signal word, GHS pictogram, a hazard statement for each hazard class and category plus a precautionary statement. Chemical companies need to be agile enough to monitor and adapt to these updates.

Role of Technology in Meeting the Dynamic OSHA Compliance Needs

More and more, chief experience officers (CXOs) and chief executive officers (CEOs) of chemical companies around the world are realizing the benefits of applying cutting-edge technology to chemical regulatory compliance. Using newer products such as Integrated Chemical Management for Microsoft Dynamics 365 (iCM) is the best way for chemical companies to keep pace with dynamic OSHA guidelines. Tools like iCM can integrate with a company’s existing data to make it more agile and effective.

ICM is the chemical industry’s first overarching tool designed to help automate Safety Data Sheet (SDS) authoring and maintenance, GHS-compliant label management and safety management compliance. Aside from ensuring compliance with changing OSHA guidelines, ICM helps organizations with the following:

  • Centralizing data, making it easier to access. Any changes in data enjoy increased visibility and can be tracked across different functions and regions.
  • Removing the need to pay for outside labeling and SDS authoring.
  • Reducing manual data inputs and related errors.
  • Providing real-time maintenance and updates to SDS and label management while remaining in compliance with existing GHS guidelines.
  • Reducing time-to-market through greater efficiency.
  • Promoting better OSHA compliance through integrated Safety Data Sheets (SDS) management and by removing the need to maintain paper product safety documentation.

Figure: 1Key Functionalities of Microsoft Dynamics iCM

Integrated Chemical Management Key Functionalities

This is a critical aspect for staying power in the industry. Chemical companies need to audit and update their IT infrastructure to ensure processes and procedures stay current with any changes to OSHA and GHS guidelines. GHS guidelines for example, have been updated five times since 2012, and most recently in 2019.

Updating data collection technology not only promotes better legal compliance, it also improves safety in the workplace, better protecting employees, and the environment, from the misuse of hazardous chemicals.

Today’s customers are more aware of potential chemical hazards than ever before. They are more likely to use a company that takes safety guidelines seriously. Adapting and leveraging advanced technologies is an integral way chemical companies can improve their OSHA compliance and boost their brand presence.

For those companies finding the ever-changing landscape of OSHA guidelines intimidating, updating to iCM can make managing regulatory compliance a much smoother process.

Key Takeaways

  • Managing regulations across the supply chain from raw material suppliers to end customers is easier with the help of a comprehensive system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 with iCM.
  • Chemical companies can use technology experts to smoothly implement the latest tools and ensure compliance to health and safety rules.
  • Obeying safety and environmental regulations improves the public’s perception of a company’s brand.

Get a free consultation to learn how to overcome OSHA compliances challenges.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

The future of the chemical industry involves technology

The future of the chemical industry involves technology

The future of the chemical industry involves technology 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

Technology is becoming a driving force in many industries and the chemical industry is no different. It’s easy to say the future of the chemical industry will continue to involve new and emerging technologies. Among the most cost-effective ways is through enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

Among the industries benefiting the most from ERP systems’ integration of supply chain management are:

  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Plastics

Introduction

Tech will spur innovation in the chemical industry, a global management consulting firm, states.

“Historically, the chemical industry has generally been a slow adopter of new digital or analytics technology,” a McKinsey & Company report on the state of the chemical industry asserts. “Still, new digital approaches can provide incremental and relevant benefits (mostly around asset and commercial productivity).”

Among the chemical industry trends highlighted in the report are:

  • Productivity gains from using artificial intelligence (AI) in production, marketing and sales plus research and development.
  • Competitive advantages from having robust real-time information on sales, costs and inventories.
  • Increasing performance transparency around chemical products, management teams, individual activities and business lines.
  • Using process automation to change the way chemical companies think about complexity, scale and sourcing of administrative activities.

“While it continues to be unlikely that the chemical industry at large will experience a revolution, the evolution it faces will be continuously accelerating in speed and eventually significantly change the way things are done,” McKinsey states.

Other Ways Tech Boosts Chemicals

In addition to the business advantages cited by McKinsey, six other reasons why chemical companies are boosting their investment in technology are:

  • Cloud storage and information sharing
  • Advanced maintenance analytics
  • Reduce, reuse and regenerate
  • Yield, Energy and Throughput (YET) analysis
  • Globalization
  • Value Maximization

Cloud storage and information sharing lets wide-spread companies keep their divisions informed. For example, Sales in the U.S. can tell Procurement in India what to expect. That way Procurement has time to manage inventory.

Advanced maintenance analytics lets production facilities predict when a machine will break, Europe-based AG Chemi Group reports. By monitoring wear points, employees can replace worn components before they break. This reduces machine downtime by 30% – 50% and boosts machine life by 20% -40%.

Connected sensors, which are used by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to send data to company networks. Company engineers can evaluate the data to pinpoint the components most likely to wear, order replacements and have them ready to install.

Managing and reducing chemical waste , reusing products and materials and regenerating natural systems is part of the circular economy, which the Ellen MacArthur Foundation states, helps companies redefine growth by focusing on positive society-wide benefits. The circular economy model builds economic, natural and social capital, the foundation claims. AG goes further and states that chemical companies can take advantage of current trends in chemical engineering and process technology to increase efficiency, lower raw materials consumption and reduce manufacturing costs by reducing chemical waste.

YET analysis focuses on improving efficiency by reducing bottlenecks. Using information from literally millions of data points, companies can model the production process and identify areas for improvement.

Globalization is part of how the world now operates. Suppliers and customers are literally spread all over the globe. As a recent example, a ship stuck in the Suez Canal delayed 12 percent of global trade for more than six days. U.S-based companies depending on pre-production materials from Europe were stuck waiting, delaying production.

Value maximization refers to the idea that, “The economics of specialties production (such as chemical manufacturing) may demand maximizing output of a high-value product, while commodities production may prioritize holding down costs, but the former is typically built on the latter. Put simply, the businesses may have two separate profit and loss accounts, but they are connected to the same pipes,” AG Chemi quotes Valerio Dilda from the Polytechnic University of Milan as saying.

This method helps maximize profit generation in complex production systems and supply chains.

Figure: 1New Technologies in Chemical Industry

New Technologies in Chemical Industry

One Way To Update

A fast, easy method for chemical production companies to update their technology is by investing in ERP software. The integrated suite of programs allows chemical companies to access massive volumes of information, control it, massage it and use the insights for planning, inventory control and other business tasks.

One such product is Microsoft Dynamics 365’s family of programs.

Running on Microsoft Azure in a distributed, cloud-based environment, Dynamics offers secure computing, versatility and customization capabilities. Cloud computing offers greater security, meaning that patented chemical products and formulas are more secure than on a company’s own network.

The Supply Chain Management program includes these core concepts:

  • Asset management
  • Cost accounting
  • Cost management
  • Inventory management
  • IoT Intelligence
  • Master planning
  • Procurement and sourcing
  • Product information management
  • Production control
  • Sales and marketing
  • Service management
  • Transportation management
  • Warehouse management

Summary

The chemical industry tends to lag behind other segments in terms of modernizing its operations. Failing to keep with technology can cost companies through missed opportunities and poor inventory management. ERP software like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Supply Chain Management or Finance are two of many options.

Book a free consultation to future proof your chemical company using the latest technology.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Rising data security risks in chemical plants

Rising Data Security Risks in the Chemical Industry

Rising Data Security Risks in the Chemical Industry 2400 1200 Xcelpros Team

Rising Data Security Risks in the Chemical Industry

Using technology to automate factories has the potential to revolutionize the biochemical and pharmaceutical industries, albeit at the expense of greater risk. Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform includes many security features designed to protect businesses in these sectors. For more information see the full article here.

Planning on restructuring your chemical operations for streamlined processes? Get a free assessment with XcelPros!

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4 KPIs That Impact The Growth of a Chemical Company

4 KPIs That Impact The Growth of a Chemical Company 960 540 Xcelpros Team

4 KPIs That Impact The Growth of a Chemical Company

Does your business operate in the chemical industry? If compliance is a big part of what you do, you don’t want to miss out on this quick insight into important KPIs that could be impacting your business today. For more information see the full article here.

Planning on restructuring your chemical operations for streamlined processes? Get a free assessment with XcelPros!

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D365 supply chain demand forecasting helps Chemical Industry

How Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Demand Forecasting Helps Chemical Companies Plan for Inventory

How Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Demand Forecasting Helps Chemical Companies Plan for Inventory 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Accurately forecasting customer demands allows a company to quickly adapt to changing needs. Leveraging predictive analysis of historical data in demand forecasting models permits better understanding of what customers want.
  • Chemical industry decision-makers and inventory managers are now concentrating on short- and long-range demand fluctuations caused by price volatility and changes in supply chain dynamics.
  • Top executives can make insightful decisions driven by informed analysis of demand patterns using robust Supply Chain Management (SCM) tools.

Understanding Demand Forecasting

Demand forecasting uses predictive analysis to gauge customer demand patterns based on historical data. Historically, chemical companies use demand forecasting to gauge independent and dependent sales orders. Rapidly increasing global markets and integrated business models show a growing need for better responsiveness and flexibility in demand forecasting. Making these changes helps chemical companies:

  • Prepare shipping materials in advance for one-time and complete deliveries.
  • Manage inventory while being flexible to accommodate unforeseen demands.
  • Sense and predict product demand based on market hierarchy, geography, climate, time zones and other reasons.
  • Stand out in the market by consistently delivering at competitive prices.

Understanding historical demand and accurate inventory management plays a key role in forecasting sales. It ensures adequate inventory. Improperly managed inventory impacts everything from shipments to sales. Companies are very reactive about their inventory planning when resources are not allocated properly. Continually reprioritizing orders throws off historical demand tracking. Adding an unexpected order can lead to big problems.

A recent poll by Deloitte with chemical executives indicates that more than 20% of total US chemical sales will be driven by business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce in 2021.

Accurately forecasting inventory helps firms understand what they have. It also helps visualize the sales pipeline. With accurate demand forecasting, a plant can take measured risks and make informed decisions causing higher profits.

Demand Forecasting Challenges

Chemical companies often struggle to leverage huge volumes of data. Not understanding and using the data effectively can cause incomplete interpretations and communication errors.

The supply chain may have multiple stakeholders using different systems for enterprise resource planning (ERP), data management (DM) and supply chain management (SCM). Demand forecasting using these different systems often causes duplicate information and loss of crucial data.

Failing to use an integrated, sophisticated demand forecasting system limits a company’s ease of use and its ability to customize the software for its unique needs.

Figure: 1Demand Forecasting Challenges in Chemical Industry

 Demand Forecasting Challenges in Chemical Industry

Demand Forecasting in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management (SCM) helps businesses adjust forecasts and view key performance indicators (KPI’s) more efficiently. Companies using this product can see demand trends and then adjust forecasts. The new forecasts seamlessly are used in inventory planning. By removing outliers, Dynamics 365 enables accurate measurements.

Dynamics’ Supply Chain Management tool follows a comprehensive flow for demand forecasting:

  1. 1.System gathers historic transactional data.
  2. 2.Machine learning uses the data to generate forecast and insights.
  3. 3.Collected data provides forecast visibility while allowing forecasts adjustments.
  4. 4.Approved forecasts are then authorized.

Figure: 2Demand Forecasting in Microsoft Dynamics: How it Works

Demand Forecasting in Microsoft Dynamics: How it Works

Microsoft Dynamics 365 SCM helps manage these complex demand patterns and improve inventory planning. Its features include:

  • Integrating Planning Optimization using demand forecasts to make informed decisions for master plans.
  • Creating, generating or importing the demand forecast based on operational models and company requirements.
  • Customizing demand forecasts that streamline the process by reducing intercompany orders and considering customer forecasts.
  • Increasing accuracy and margin with lean demand forecasting.
  • Graphing and creating interactive demand forecasts for real-time feedback anywhere on the trend line.
  • Seamlessly applying the demand forecasting tool with existing ERP. This harnesses data and generates accurate forecasts for improved inventory control and bottom lines.

Chemical companies can better predict demand by fortifying their IT infrastructure with the right tools. Using software that’s easier to use, more accessible and has greater accuracy enables them to improve their inventory planning. Integrated solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 provide a robust and complete demand forecasting tool, enabling businesses to set up and maintain optimal inventory control.

Key Takeaways

  • Demand forecasting in the chemical industry needs to move forward from conventional, spreadsheet-based models and tools to newer, more agile digital systems.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers chemical companies the ability to forecast inventory levels more accurately through visual, customizable and interactive features.
  • Increased focus on accurate demand forecasting helps chemical companies avoid stock-outs or over-stocking. It improves profits, strengthens supply chains and elevates overall customer satisfaction.

To learn more about implementation of demand forecasting in your chemical company, book a free consultation with Xcelpros.

Book Now

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Leveraging Technology to Boost Profits for Chemical Companies

How chemical companies benefit from adopting newer technology

How chemical companies benefit from adopting newer technology 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Chemical companies can face numerous problems dealing with hazardous chemicals held in inventory. More supply chain officers are turning to digital tools to transform their operations, and increase efficiency. Here are some ways that technology is helping the chemical industry by automating chemical management.

Leveraging Technology in Chemical Companies

Looking to digitally transform your chemical company? Get a free assessment with XcelPros.

Register Now

About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Advantages of material requirement planning

Advantages of a material requirement planning system (MRP) vs. manual planning

Advantages of a material requirement planning system (MRP) vs. manual planning 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

While it wasn’t a strong consideration for chemical production in the past, today’s plants are realizing the need to know where they stand in terms of meeting their customer’s needs. Some key demands being placed on the chief financial officer by different departments include questions like.

  • Can we fulfill my customer’s regular orders on time?
  • Are we able to deliver a client’s last minute rush-order?
  • Do we have enough inventory to stay on schedule without impacting other projects?

The only way for a plant to know exactly where they stand in terms of its raw materials, packaging, production and delivery schedules is through proper planning.

The benefits of effective materials requirement planning starts with understanding each product’s formulas, which dictate the required bills of materials (BOMs) in terms of raw or previously refined ingredients along with up-to-date instructions on how to safely use them.

A manufacturing BOM is essential in designing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and materials requirement planning (MRP).-Investopedia

Difficulty with Conventional Methods

A conventional method of making sure you’d have all the information required to answer the CFO’s questions was by using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for production planning. One spreadsheet might list all of the required chemicals for a specific formula from the BOM in the first column followed by others showing the quantities required for each batch and the quantities on hand. Other sections of the spreadsheet might be what is on order, which supplier is shipping it, when it is due and other similar information.

In this format however, ensuring the information on the BOM is accurate usually requires additional diligence and effort to be put forth. This could mean verifying inventories, making phone calls and sending emails when numbers in the warehouse don’t match. It might mean having one manager call another when a shipment arrives with less than the ordered quantity, or rarely, more than what was ordered.

Once the BOM is completely built out and the CFO knows what materials are available, they can schedule labor and resources to produce the products. This can be tricky when the same distillation equipment is to be used for multiple products, with downtime in manufacturing required between batches for cleaning and device maintenance.

Ideally, production teams have a planner who creates a schedule similar to the one in the image below (see Production Planning PPT slide from Xcelpros).

The Downsides to Downtime

You may have heard it before “Poor planning produces poor performance.” When it comes to business however, poor planning can also mean unexpected costs, and unexpected downtime. Downtime is often defined as time when production is scheduled to run but for some reason is not. Unplanned downtime or production stoppages however can seriously impact a businesses bottom line. These include disruptions in the form of reputational damage and customer churn by not delivering products on time. This unplanned lack of production also causes revenue losses, reduced employee productivity, reduced end-user productivity and stressed employees. Stressed employees can result in employee turnover. An HRDive brief puts the cost of replacing an employee at one-third of an employee’s annual salary or roughly $15,000 per worker.

Direct Costs of Downtime

The direct cost of downtime in production across all industries, not just chemical——varies. According to Atlassian and Garvey, downtime costs add up to

 

$247per minute for small businesses

$9,000 per minute for medium and large businesses

$260,000per hour across all businesses in a 2016 study

800 hours of downtime per year on average in manufacturing alone as cited by Garvey

Source: Atlassian & Garvey.com

Tracking Downtime in the Chemical Industry

According to an article by Accruent, unplanned downtime in the chemical industry appears in

  • Reduced production
  • Losses caused by quality issues
  • Costs for equipment repairs
  • Decreased customer satisfaction

One example cited was the quality drop off when a High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plant restarts. The plant can take from hours to days to produce right-first-time materials. The transitional goods are either scrapped or sold as reduced quality.

Proper Planning Produces Peak Performance

Figure: 1Production Planner’s View on Manufacturing: Planning & Execution in a Chemical Company

Features Of MRP System

Much of this downtime in manufacturing can be avoided by proper planning, especially when using a Master Plan. Managing master planning processes using software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can complete a number of critical tasks including

  • Calculates net requirements for the master plan based on actual current orders. This permits day-to-day inventory management.
  • Forecasts gross requirements for long-term planning of materials and production capacity.
  • Calculates net requirements across legal entities, such as different companies providing supply and demand.

The Master planning module determines the supply (materials) and capacity (resources) needs that will meet current demand (net requirements),” which includes the longest lead times.-Microsoft

The Master plan setup includes coverage settings and defining coverage rules for items.

Using a Master plan includes creating a constrained plan, handling safety stock and dealing with delays.

When used with multiple sites, the Master plan creates site schedules, site plans and coverage, the BOM version and other functions.

In terms of intercompany planning, the Master plan lets CFOs and project planners view the outbound intercompany demand and collaborate with internal supply chain customers.

Demand forecasting functions include importing historical data, generating, adjusting and approving a baseline forecast and then monitoring the forecast for accuracy.

Demand Forecasting in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Figure: 2Basic flow in Demand forecasting

Basic flow in Demand forecasting

Having an idea what to order in advance is a “top of the mind” issue for many CFOs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can perform demand forecasting, though it requires the Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Studio, which has limited availability.

  • Predict independent demand from sales orders and dependent demand at any decoupling point
  • Customize it for industry-specific requirements
  • Visualize demand trends, confidence intervals and make forecast adjustments based
  • Remove outliers
  • Authorize the adjusted forecast for planning

Final Thoughts

Proper planning helps CFOs cut costs and reduce downtime in manufacturing at the same time. One way to ensure production facilities have enough of what they need to keep factories rolling is by using an MRP system. These systems are

  • More efficient
  • More accurate
  • Better for long-term planning

Looking to digitally transform your supply chain? Take a free assessment!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Factors Influencing Chemical Inventory Management

Key Influencing Factors in Chemical Inventory Management

Key Influencing Factors in Chemical Inventory Management 1200 450 Xcelpros Team

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 free consultation with XcelPros!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

4 KPIs that impact the growth of a Chemical company

4 KPIs that impact the growth of a Chemical company

4 KPIs that impact the growth of a Chemical company 1200 600 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Quantifying progress is important for any industry to know they’re on the right path. The chemical industry should focus on specific KPIs to measure its growth and to make sure it is moving in the right direction.
  • Continuous improvement is important, understanding which KPIs to focus on will ensure that companies are able to assess their performance and make adjustments wherever necessary.
  • KPIs should be communicated by upper management so that employees fully understand their tasks and everybody has a clear set of goals.
  • While the chemical industry might be seen as having fairly standard KPIs, it’s essential to understand that every company is different and will likely focus on different information.

The chemical industry has always operated within certain conventional settings and boundaries. With digital technology advancing so quickly, however, more and more chemical companies are thinking outside of the box in an effort to become more agile. These thought leaders are looking for better ways to quantify their manufacturing KPIs, generate insights and boost revenue.

According to the American Chemical Council (ACC), the US economy is expected to grow by up to 3.7% in 2021 and that chemical production will rise by as much as 3.9%. With this kind of growth expected, it’s more important than ever for chemical manufacturing and distribution companies to recognize and prioritize the most important KPIs for the chemical industry. While every performance marker is important there are a few KPIs that can have a greater impact on the overall production and aftermarket aspect of the business. C-level executives from these companies need to look closely at which performance measures make the most sense for them. Below are 4 KPIs in the chemical industry that could have a huge impact on a business’s bottom line.

1.Operational KPIs

It’s important to be able to measure the operational performance against benchmarks to achieve the desired results in manufacturing, including both quality and maintenance. Measuring important KPIs like scheduled uptime vs. total scheduled operational time lets organizations to calculate things like manufacturing schedule compliance, percentage of quality compliant products, and production rate per product type against the planned demand. This helps organizations achieve a high Overall Equipment Effectiveness(OEE) and optimize costs.

2.Regulatory KPIs

Adherence to local and global regulations is one thing chemical companies should never compromise on. KPIs for regulation compliance enable chemical manufacturing companies to record, measure and maintain records required for various rules and requirements. It’s imperative for chemical companies to set up and follow KPIs related to Regulatory Affairs (RA) in order to determine the long-term efficiency of their compliance processes.

Figure: 1 Primary Areas with Impactful KPIs: Chemical Industry

Primary Areas with Impactful KPIs: Chemical Industry

3.Inventory Utilization KPIs

While maintaining higher than usual inventory levels adds to overall costs, stock-outs can create even greater bottlenecks in production. This is the main reason it’s so important to maintain optimal inventory levels. Adhering to throughput rate and buffer levels can help chemical companies consistently achieve the inventory levels required to keep production going without increased inventory costs. Inventory KPIs also help in maintaining consistent inventory turnover rates.

4.Customer Experience KPIs

This measurement is now growing extremely popular in every industry, including chemical. More and more companies are looking to connect directly with their end-users in order to understand buying habits, trends, and ultimately determine what their customers want. This lets companies focus on producing the right products for their target markets.

Bonus – Environmental impact and sustainability KPIs

A lot of conventional chemical manufacturing methods and processes are still highly resource-intensive, with the potential to cause serious damage to the environment. Moving forward, chemical companies need to research and invest in greener, more sustainable models of working. This can be achieved by setting up KPIs and ensuring proper governance.

According to their website, BASF (the largest chemical producer globally) has the goal of growing CO2 neutrally until 2030.

Similarly, the Dow Chemical Company has plans to stop the waste by 2030, by enabling 1 million metric tons of plastic to be collected, reused, or recycled through its direct actions and partnerships. The company invests and collaborates with partners who have similar interests and can provide infrastructure and technologies to accelerate global recycling.

Focusing on these performance markers and goals not only helps in showcasing strategies for chemical companies to go greener but can also set an organization on a much shorter path to success. By protecting the environment and offering a better customer experience, along with producing and managing products much more efficiently will help companies in this sector achieve new heights.

Key Takeaways

  • Utilizing customer experience KPIs can help companies better understand their customers’ buying habits along with market demand and the impact of their efforts.
  • Chemical manufacturers need to set up KPIs not just for the production chain, but the entire lifecycle- from procurement of raw material to end-user.
  • Organizations need to be more conscious of resources and the impact on the environment. Chemical companies are taking note of this and the right step in this direction is to set up environmental goals and KPIs.

Planning on restructuring your chemical operations for streamlined processes? Get a free assessment with XcelPros!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Rising data security risks in chemical plants

Rising data security risks in chemical plants

Rising data security risks in chemical plants 2400 1200 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

Digital security threats are increasingly targeting industries—including the chemical sector—to the point the Department of Homeland Security is now issuing cyberterrorism guidelines. Among the protection and detection resources a few chemical softwares available are:

  • Free detection and protection tools for small and midsize chemical companies from Homeland Security.
  • A free report to help companies detect abnormal behavior in a computer network before damage occurs from the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST).
  • Several ways to protect distributed data on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform.

Introduction

Using technology to automate factories has the potential to revolutionize the biochemical and pharmaceutical industries. The same technology permitting rapid development and customization, though, also exposes these factories to new risks from outside actors.

Factory technicians have the ability to track progress at every stage, permitting adjustments when required. Whether it’s creating a new drug virtually and using technology to anticipate how it will perform, and then tweaking it to get the right results, or producing medicines customized for a single patient, all of these methods share common tools: computers.

These same smart factory methods permitting efficient manufacturing also open the facilities to new vulnerabilities in the form of undesired computer modifications, known colloquially as hacking.

Potential Threats to Production Facilities

Connecting sensors and devices, along with accessing vital systems and information remotely, “results in manufacturing networks with greater vulnerabilities to cyberattack,” a recent article in Quality Digest states.

The most recent example occurred April 11 at Iran’s Natanz nuclear processing site. A power system used by centrifuges required to process uranium was demolished, requiring an estimated nine months of work to bring it back online. Another example cited in a 2014 The Wall Street Journal article explained how a targeted email sent to a German iron plant allowed intruders to cross into the production network. The result was an inability to shut down a furnace normally, causing severe damage to the entire system.

Types of Cyber Attacks

Cyberattacks can come in several forms depending on the attackers’ goals. These include:

  • Stealing sensitive and important information, such as materials covered by patents.
  • Installing malicious software, allowing attackers to control critical systems.
  • Damaging production control systems

Cyber attackers usually have one of two goals in attacking anyone or anything, including a biochemical or pharmaceutical production facility. The goals are:

  • Money in the form of a ransomware attack demanding payment to release control of these systems.
  • Sabotaging machines with the goal of hurting a plant or company.
  • Political motivations (e.g., Iran claims the April 11, 2021 attack was caused by Israel)

 

3700customer records were taken from LC Industries in June 2015

40,000 research files were taken from DuPont by a former employee

900,000customer records stolen from Hanes Brands in mid 2015

$54 million was stolen from aircraft manufacturer FACC in early 2016

Source: Digital Guardian

Monitoring Industrial Systems

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released its “Securing Manufacturing Industrial Control Systems: Behavioral Anomaly Detection” report, which is available free.

Behavioral anomaly detection (BAD) monitors industrial systems for unusual events and trends. Using smart factory technology such as the industrial internet of things (IIoT) sensors, BAD looks for real-time evidence a system is being compromised. Instead of reacting to an attack already underway, or finding evidence a cyberattack happened in the past, BAD monitors industrial control systems and operational technology (OT). This lets factory technicians monitor what is happening.

When an operator sees signs of an unauthorized connection or device, the operator can stop it. One example cited in the Quality Digest article is knowing what communications are allowed with the programmable logic controller (PLC) common in many industrial machines. Unauthorized connections can generate an alert, letting the human operator know intervention may be required.

Figure: 1 An example of computer alerts in the Cyber X console (courtesy NIST)

computer alerts in the Cyber X console

Tools and Resources for the Chemical Sector

“Securing these chemicals against growing and evolving threats requires vigilance from both the private and public sector,” the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) states in an article on the Chemical Sector. This sector includes pharmaceuticals. Tools and resources are available to small and midsize chemical facilities through the CISA designed to aid chemical facility owners and operators, risk managers, business continuity planners and others.

CISA states these resources are not to be confused with the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), which focuses on high-risk chemical facilities. The program identifies and regulates high-risk facilities, reducing the risk of hazardous chemicals being weaponized by terrorists.

NIST also has tools available through its Cybersecurity Framework webpage.

Azure Has Tools to Fight Cyber Attacks

While many small and mid-sized businesses lack the financial resources to fight cyberattacks, commercial tools do exist. One advantage is they remove much of the computing burden from on-site servers and move it to the cloud. Especially in a business environment where many employees and managers work remotely, possibly in different countries with varying degrees of cyber security, the ability to protect data and operations becomes critical.

One of the top products of this type is Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing platform with services including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).

Using remote data servers (i.e., cloud computing), Microsoft uses a layered approach to ensure its physical facilities storing data from remote factories are secure. Access approval is required at the facility’s perimeter, the building’s perimeter, inside the building and on the datacenter floor. Customer networks are isolated in Azure. Per Microsoft the isolation improves performance and security.

Physical access to computer hard drives is not a typical security issue for most companies. Stealing or damaging the data on them, though? Worrying about that can lead to sleepless nights. One benefit of using Azure is its ability to accept data from Microsoft Office 365 programs such as Access and Excel. Microsoft Azure Sentinel provides intelligent security analytics. The Azure data security platform also provides other forms of security. This includes:

  • Structured query language (SQL) authentication
  • Multi Factor authentication by users
  • The ability to lock various computer resources
  • Constant security updates automatically applied to the overall system by Microsoft

Multi Factor authentication, for example, sends a code to a user’s email account or cellphone. The user must input this code to gain access. Azure also has its own Security Center that provides an overview and recommendations for making each subscriber’s virtual network and virtual machines more secure. Reports are exportable in a format readable by programs such as Microsoft Excel. Azure’s Security Center also provides:

  • Details on security incidents with recommended actions to prevent similar issues
  • Built-in remediation proposals, requiring only mouse clicks to activate them
  • A wealth of information based on industry-specific policies for a specific country or region

Final Thoughts

Cyber attacks on industries are increasing worldwide and a better infrastructure without the maintenance hassle is the direction that more companies are preferring. Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform includes many security features designed to protect data when using a distributed workforce.

Aiming to transform into a risk-free organization with Azure? Start the free trial!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com