Operating in a difficult sphere, chemical manufacturers face many challenges on a daily basis. With tight deadlines, costs and even tighter regulations, some chemical manufacturers are guilty of sticking to their tried-and-tested operational methods.
Many believe that implementing change will disrupt their productivity, placing them on the back-foot. However, in reality, failing to welcome change is what is holding some chemical manufacturers back.
So, what are the key challenges that chemical manufacturers are facing? Andy Gough, General Manager at manufacturing software provider Datawright discusses.
Remaining reactive to industry price changes
The raw materials used by chemical manufacturers are often highly priced. As markets fluctuate between countries, the associated price drops can leave manufacturers vulnerable. Take the US’s 2014 shale gas price drop for example; as a result, competition was heightened in Europe, placing additional pressure on manufacturers in an already high-pressure market.
Manufacturers have little control over these wider market costs. However, what they are able to do is keep a close eye on their own internal costs and processes.
Using ERP software, manufacturers can gain greater visibility of budgets, revenues and costs, in addition to increasing their awareness of pre-existing inefficiencies in processes. By staying informed, you are able to react accordingly when market prices start to rise, minimising the impact they can have on your business.
Overcome traceability issues
Unlike some other sectors, traceability is a key priority for chemical manufacturers. With the strict regulations the industry has in place, each material needs to be fully traceable ahead of potential recalls or quality audits.
Chemical manufacturers therefore need to put an effective support system and procedure in place to effectively capture this data ahead of when it is required. This availability of data makes it easier to identify the root cause of an issue with a product.
Analysing the performance of the final product
With such a complicated manufacturing process, it’s easy for chemical manufacturers to neglect the performance of their end-products. Only by analysing the complete end-to-end costs of a product can they determine how successful a product is.
All too often this success is left down to an assumption. However, by capturing big data, manufacturers are able to understand the true cost of their operations, which is a key motivator in driving organisational change. It’s the shock factor effect; by gaining visibility of operational inefficiencies, manufacturers can implement changes to gain an advantage over their competitors.
A final thought
If any of the above challenges resonate with you, it could be because you’re experiencing similar issues caused by an inefficient software solution. How well can you answer the following?
- Are all your core manufacturing processes visible?
- Can you fully trace the products easily and efficiently?
- Do you fully understand the total costs associated with production?
If any of your answers are no, it could be a sign that your existing software solution is not performing as it should. To drive your business forward, implementing this change could be the competitive edge chemical manufacturers need.