Comparing the Cost of Chemical Storage Against that of a Digital Inventory Management System

This may be the curmudgeon in me coming out, but I have started to feel that there is nothing free left in this world. It costs money to do everything, from enjoying the beauty of a city park (taxes) to sharing pictures on Facebook (informational and privacy costs).

chemical storage
Chemical storage is expensive, but is it more expensive than a chemical inventory management system?
Image source: Flickr user NTNU, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology

When examined from the perspective of cost, chemical storage, like everything else, is not free. It seems like there are costs associated with every aspect of chemical management including the following:

  • Storage Costs – Due to their contents, chemicals cannot just sit around in the open. They need to be put away in a freezer or storage area where they will not be accidentally spilled.
  • Disposal Costs – If you do not use chemicals before they expire, there is an associated disposal cost.
  • Over Order Costs – When you order too many chemicals, you will have too much working capital tied up in unnecessary inventory rather than put toward something useful.
  • Compliance Report Costs – It’s important to keep in mind that having chemicals on site requires the generation of a number of compliance reports, including EPA hazardous chemical reports, OSHA reports and first responder reports.

If you add up all of the costs associated with chemical management, including employee time spent searching for chemical locations and periodic inventory counts, the real costs are actually quite high. But are they higher than the cost of a digital chemical inventory management system?

When evaluating the investment of software like a chemical inventory management system, the real cost consists not just of a licensing fee, but also the following:

  • Installation costs – Many chemical inventory management systems require significant implementation time. Consulting fees on an installation are often quite high.
  • Training Costs – Some chemical inventory management systems require extensive training and instruction before users are familiar with the functionality.
  • Integrations – It’s helpful to have a chemical inventory management system that interface with other laboratory systems, like laboratory information management systems. These integrations can add up, depending upon how many.

When considered from this perspective, the cost of managing chemical inventory with a digital chemical inventory management system may also appear high. So which one will actually cost less?

In the long run, the best bet for most research organizations to minimize the costs associated with chemical inventory is to install a chemical inventory management system. This is a good choice because such a system will allow you to run a lean laboratory. This means going forward that only minimal capital necessary to maintain inventory is required, while the rest can be utilized more effectively elsewhere.

By providing management with details regarding the overall age of chemical inventory, a chemical inventory management system can also prevent chemicals from expiring before use. This reduces both disposal costs and replacement costs. In addition, the right chemical inventory management system can also help with ensuring safe and efficient storage practices, the production of compliance reports, and tracking and updating Safety Data Sheets as they change. This can also reduce the overall cost of inventory management in regard to any employee time spent researching, creating and updating compliance reports.

In the end, a chemical inventory management system will lower the overall costs associated with chemical use and storage. Within a year or two, all of the installation, training and integration costs should be recovered and the ultimate savings can go straight to your lab’s bottom line. Factoring in hard numbers also helps to put everything into perspective. A recent survey of laboratories before and after implementation of a chemical inventory management system demonstrated that, on average, firms are able to obtain an annual recurring financial benefit of $12,900 per laboratory staff user and $12.50 per container.

For more information regarding the financial benefits associated with implementing Accelrys CISPro, please visit our website today.

4 thoughts on “Comparing the Cost of Chemical Storage Against that of a Digital Inventory Management System

  1. Digital Inventory Management System seems to be very good for a long-term solution because it reduces a lot of cost for maintaince aslo prevents many drawbacks iin the traditional storage.

  2. If a lab is looking to curb long term costs a digital inventory is superior. Whereas if the owner is going to sell in a short period of time, digital inventory may not be the best options (although it would probably increase value).

  3. I actually think that a CMS would have an immediate impact on the business as well as a long term benefit.

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