Keeping Pace: Efficiently Manage Chemical Data in the Modern Consumer Packaged Goods Industry

Abe Gubegna, an Ethiopian writer and civil servant, is most famous for the following statement:

“Every day in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better be running.”

In the consumer pacakaged goods industry, changing regulations means running faster.
Like the lion and the gazelle, companies in the consumer packaged goods industry have to run to keep up with changing chemical regulations.
Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

For laboratories within the consumer packaged goods industry, trying to keep up with the ever-changing chemical regulatory requirements and consumer preferences can sometimes feel like the lion and the gazelle –constant running. And the difficult thing is that there is no time to catch your breath. Here are a few things on the horizon that will soon require the industry to run a little more quickly:

Retailer Requirements – Leading retailers, such as Walmart, Target and Whole Foods, have announced initiatives aimed at reducing the chemical footprint of products sold in their store. Their principal goal is to encourage consumer goods manufactures to use safer chemicals and be more transparent with the public regarding chemical contents.

State Regulation – Instead of waiting around for the Federal government to enact new chemical regulations, many states are taking it upon themselves to create and enforce chemical regulations. For example, the California State Legislature passed the Toxic Substances Act, which is also aimed at reducing toxic chemicals in consumer products.

Due to the accelerating pace of change, it is simply unrealistic for companies to continue to track their chemical inventory using only spreadsheet software and a simple database. To function efficiently and remain competitive in today’s consumer packaged goods industry, companies need to implement a chemical inventory management system.

Benefits of a Chemical Inventory Management System in the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry

A chemical management system, like Accelrys CISPro, is designed to help managers stay organized and in control of both their chemical inventory and the information regarding said inventory. It does this through the following features:

  • Chemical Information Management – Chemical inventory is more than just chemical storage. It is the management of the information associated with each chemical, including safety data sheets, chemical contents and chemical location. Managing the data has become more complex in recent years, as both consumers and regulators have demanded more transparency with regard to chemical contents within products. Complying with these new rules requires that companies keep significant amounts of information on hand. Companies doing this manually tend to wind up dedicating a lot of time and space to the gathering and storage of chemical-related documentation. Alternatively, a chemical inventory management system would solve these issues by providing a digital repository for all of the chemical information. In this day and age of information, a database of information is much more easily managed than hard copies.
  • Barcoding Systems – Companies managing chemical inventories through spreadsheets often have a difficult time associating chemical data with the physical chemicals. Accelrys’ chemical inventory management system solves this problem by attaching the stored information digitally to the chemical container through the use of a barcode system. When the chemicals are scanned, associated information such as material type, safety precautions and expiration dates are easily available to the end user.
Without a barcoding system, it is difficult to link physical chemicals with their associated data points.
Image source: Flickr user Hey Paul Studios
  • Supply Chain Management – Another feature found within chemical inventory management systems is reports and data points that can help laboratory managers better manage their supply chain. Frequently, laboratories using spreadsheets will over-purchase chemicals because they do not know the total on-hand quantity; this information can be tricky to keep track of and it may fluctuate on a regular basis as scientists utilize inventory for experiments and neglect to update the necessary log. However, using a chemical inventory management system’s barcode system is easier, and therefore more scientists are usually willing to make sure the proper steps are taken to keep track of on-hand chemical amounts. This helps ensure that chemical inventory is kept as accurate and up to date as possible.

Implementing a chemical inventory system is like putting on a nice pair of running shoes – they provide you with the right support so that you can run faster and perform better. Accelrys’ CIS Pro is the ideal system to support your laboratory as it addresses the constantly changing chemical management hurdles. If you would like to learn more about Accelrys CISPro, please visit our website today.

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