Consider these features when comparing chemical ERP software

In its 2016 ERP Report on ERP Systems and Enterprise Software, ERP consulting and research firm Panorama Consulting Solutions LLC notes “there has been no other time in history when organizations have had so many enterprise software options.”1. Yet when it comes to making comparisons between vendors of ERP software, nothing trumps an industry-specific solution for chemical manufacturers.

Your complex operation requires an ERP solution designed specifically for your needs, not a virtual experiment where the vendor takes a generic product and modifies its functionalities, with a less-than-spectacular result. Here are three areas to investigate during your ERP software search and reasons for using ERP software specific to process manufacturers in the chemical industry.

Formula/recipe versus BOM

A common misconception among manufacturers is that formulation and bills of materials (BOMs) are the same. They are not. A chemical manufacturing company works with formulas and recipes (formulation) to create its products via a process that calls for the measuring and blending of various ingredients according to different units of measure, such as gallons, liters and pounds. Formulations may also include instructions to be incorporated into the process. Also, unlike a discrete manufacturer, chemical products cannot be unassembled into their original components once they’re mixed.

Recommended reading: make sure that you select the best ERP for your company with our manufacturing ERP requirements template

Discrete manufacturing BOMs are comprised of pieces, parts, components, assemblies, and quantities. These BOMs don’t change with sales orders. Formulations for process manufacturers, however, must be scaled according to the order and batch size. Many may include custom requests that need to be accounted for, such as a color or attribute change. Ensuring that the scaling and custom changes are handled appropriately is essential. This is why the managing and tracking of formulas and formulation is crucial for chemical manufacturers. For this, the chemical manufacturer needs a chemical ERP software solution designed to handle the specificity and complexity of these needs.

Integrated SDS Authoring and Labeling

Integrated Safety Data Sheet (SDS) authoring and labeling functionalities in ERP software specific to chemical manufacturing are convenient, streamlined, and accurate. A single-source solution with seamless integration eliminates the silo effect of working with standalone systems for SDS composition and Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) labeling. Important data is entered into the ERP solution once compared to the duplicated efforts required of standalone systems.

The correct chemical ERP software ensures that a proper SDS is sent with products and that composition data is leveraged for the creation of accurate GHS compliant hazardous labels. The Quality Control (QC) functionality of the ERP software further helps to protect process manufacturers from liability since it specifically addresses current Good Manufacturing Processes (cGMP) and other quality regulations. With all of the concern for the handling of hazardous chemicals, the wellbeing of consumers of chemical products, and the amount of regulation targeting chemical manufacturers, it is important to work with a vendor whose ERP software offers specific functionalities that reduce risks for consumer and company alike.

Hazardous Materials Management

Increased regulation has placed growing emphasis and importance on the maintenance of accurate tracking of inventory and hazardous materials. This includes understanding the quantity, cost, location, hazardous classification, and expiration of this inventory. For this reason, chemical manufacturing companies are using features like enhanced lot tracking through ERP software solutions which provides accuracy and traceability, ensuring consistency in use and production and conformance with regulatory guidelines. Furthermore, real-time reporting throughout the inventory life cycle provides critical insight into decision-making, for example more efficient storage, management, and safety as based on the increased levels of visibility.

Chemical manufacturers should never settle for less-than-optimum ERP software. When you invest in ERP systems designed for discrete manufacturing or one-size-fits-all ERP software, you open yourself up to disappointment. The complexity and critical nature of a chemical manufacturing operation requires an integrated ERP software solution specifically designed for hazardous materials management, SDS authoring and labeling, and formulation management.

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Daniel Erickson

About the author…

Daniel has been with ProcessPro since 1999 and has held numerous roles within the company including implementation, account management, product management, and sales. Currently as Director of Product Strategy, Daniel focuses on driving overall market success by ensuring the products meet both current and future market demands. Leveraging his extensive understanding of process manufacturing, the unique business trends of this industry, and information gathered from market analysis, customer feedback, regulatory compliance, and certification requirements to drive product decisions. Connecting the benefits of ProcessPro’s robust ERP solution to batch process manufacturers and helping solve their key business challenges effectively.

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Daniel Erickson

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