Error #8 – Spending Too Much Money on Chemical Inventory Management



If we imagine the perfect lab, there would be unlimited resources and perfect safety records. Productivity would be optimal and everyone would have high job satisfaction. Lab managers reach for this ideal lab with their work every day! Grant writing, ongoing professional education, and safety initiatives are all ways that lab managers and EH&S professionals try to give us the best possible laboratory. Safety is high on the list, as is funding. This summer at the ChemSW blog, we are looking at lab safety for workers, first responders, the environment, and the community. One of the errors ChemSW wants labs to avoid is spending too much money on chemical inventory management. This is the final post in a series about the top eight chemical management errors.

A few months ago, Lab Manager Magazine hosted a best practices chemical inventory webinar for lab managers and EH&S professionals. Our very own Jon Webb from ChemSW talked us through the common errors in lab management and solutions to save the lab much-needed resources. Here is #8.

Researchers will order chemicals if they can’t find what they need in storage. We know this. If the chemical is hard to locate, then the lab may be spending too much money by over ordering chemicals. When too much inventory is on site, it’s possible that some of it may expire before it gets used. This is a travesty in the world of lab management!



In the ChemSW webinar, Jon Webb outlined his ideal goals of an efficient chemical management system. We can imagine that these goals are echoed in lab safety personnel meetings throughout the country.


Goals of An Efficient Chemical Inventory System

1) A chemical management system should increase lab efficiency and productivity.

2) It should reduce resources used for inventory reporting, MSDS management and inventory management.

3) It should minimize chemical purchases and costs of storage and disposal.

4) It should maximize chemical inventory accuracy.

5) It should enhance health, environment, and safety programs and ensure regulatory compliance.


These goals are win-win for the organization and the lab personnel. ChemSW supports safe labs, and we offer several types of inventory management software that meet and exceed these goals. The software solutions offered by ChemSW are able to manage chemicals from acquisition to disposal. While some chemicals may come with manufacturer labels with name and expiration date, CISPro™ can link to current MSDS information for thousands of chemicals. Since the inventory list is computer-based, it is possible to access this hazard information easily in an emergency.

When inventory management software improves safety and productivity, it can be even more cost effective. We can expect to lower the operations cost of inventory management by implementing an inventory receiving team. This gatekeeper group labels every single container that enters the facility, which ensures fire code compliance and decreases liability.


Perhaps this is already something that is operating in your lab; however, there are some facilities where individual researchers are responsible for ordering and receiving. By having designated gatekeepers, this frees up researchers to do their highly specialized work and also makes sure all chemicals are entered in the system. The best software is installed as a centralized system with an intuitive interface and easy access throughout the facility. This bit helps with user buy-in, which is critical to accurate inventory lists. With best practices software, lab managers and EH&S professionals can see a crystal clear picture of what is actually in inventory while minimizing inventory costs.

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