Your senses of smell, taste, hearing, touch, and sight serve a greater purpose. They’re not just for breathing in freshly baked bread, swishing a glass of pinot noir, listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, squeezing the Charmin, and laying eyes on the love of your life. All wonderful pursuits of course, but the most vital task of the five senses is to alert our brains when something is amiss. Do you smell something burning? Check the stove. Do you taste something rotten? Spit it out. Was that the shrill whistle of an approaching train? Get off the tracks! Feel a prick on your arm? Get away from that beehive. Is he holding a gun? Run.
Chemical Supply Chain Challenges
In other words, safety is nearly impossible without sensory feedback. Meanwhile, U.S. chemical manufacturing employs roughly 544,000 people. In 2019, its output totaled a little more than $870 billion. That’s a whole lot of hands being in close contact or proximity to some very potentially harmful materials. Sure, most of those people have five senses to protect them, but surely we can do better.
The chemical supply chain faces a great many challenges as well. It constantly grapples with capacity, sustainability, and shortages of resources. Each of these forces can have the unfortunate effect of compromising safety. Smaller, more frequent orders have become more common, as they save on the cost of storing large quantities of chemicals. But more orders can lead to more opportunities for mistakes to happen.
It’s difficult to find enough workers qualified to handle and transport hazardous materials. And there is a very real cost associated to the recruitment and retention of quality employees. The more a company has to replace good employees, the more it has to spend to train up their replacement. Again, we’re talking about hazardous materials. Chemical manufacturers simply can’t afford too much inexperience in vital roles. The safety of their workers depends on it.
Workers suffer more than 190,000 illnesses and 50,000 deaths annually related to chemical exposures. Safety risks stem from explosives, flammable materials, gases, oxidizers, poisons, and corrosives to name a few. And though ventilation, automatic sprinkler systems, fireproof doors, and regulations such as OSHA’s permissible exposure limits (PELs) offer some protection and guidance in the workplace, technology can do better.
The Latest Breakthrough In Chemical Supply Chain Safety
The key to the most recent breakthroughs in chemical supply chain safety involve granular material traceability. Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing has risen to meet the outrageous demand of the day. It is powered by technology that can automate 60 percent of all manufacturing tasks. Across manufacturing industries, oceans of data are being collected by internet of things (IoT) sensors, but to what end? Without artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), it’s virtually impossible to extract the most value from all that information.
This is where ThinkIQ’s digital manufacturing transformation SaaS comes into play. Our technology delivers a fact-based granular and data-centric contextualized view of material flows and related providence attribute data to the chemical supply chain. Integrated into existing IoT infrastructure that crosses supply chains to manufacturing processes and beyond, our solutions unlock unprecedented material traceability and insight into substantial gains in yield, quality, safety, compliance, and brand confidence — all while reducing waste and environmental impact.
Applied to other high-demand industries such as food & beverage — where 28,000 recalls occur per year due to foodborne illness incidents such as E.coli, Salmonella, Listeria — Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing has made a significant impact. ThinkIQ provides the platform to determine the correlation between raw materials and finished product, allowing customers to unify enterprise business practices between the silos of procurement, manufacturing, and quality. This more optimal environment has led to 99.999 percent elimination of recalls in some applications.
The natural fit and need with the chemical industry is obvious, particularly when you consider that 96 percent of all manufactured goods depend on chemicals in some shape or form. The need for digitalization is a common refrain in the chemical manufacturing industry to increase the speed of innovation, increase transparency, and protect the safety of every human involved in the process.
Sharpen your senses by embracing digitalization, Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing, and ThinkIQ in your chemical supply chain. Talk to a ThinkIQ expert today to learn more about how we can make your chemical processes more safe. We also have a new selection guide eBook to help you better understand the questions you should be asking. Download your copy today.