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About NexTec Group

NexTec Group is a national consulting firm, specializing in technology to help you manage your business. This includes Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Business Intelligence (BI), Cloud and On-premise solutions for mid-sized businesses.

We started the company because, as consultants, we saw software sellers that had never walked a mile in the customers shoes. We had, and knew that we could offer something different. A company made up of consultants that had experience working in the industries that they were now advising.

In the 20+ years that NexTec has been in business, we’ve developed close working relationships with our customers, partners and each other.

Customers choose NexTec because…

  • Our consultants have an average of 25 years’ experience in both consulting and industry.
  • We understand the software, customer challenges, value teamwork, and are passionate about doing great work
  • We have the biggest and most experience Sage X3 team in the industry, implementing Sage X3 since the product’s introduction.
  • We provide clear information that helps customers make informed buying decisions
  • We stand by our customers to make sure the technology works, is used, and produces great results
  • We deliver our services with a sense of friendliness, fun, individual pride, and company spirit

If you see the possibilities, let’s meet for lunch, coffee or a drink.

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ERP solutions

Positive outlook for chemicals industry in 2019: ERP considerations

By | Chemicals, ERP | No Comments
ERP solution

The 2019 outlook is bright for the chemicals industry.

After a turbulent few years, the tide seems to be turning for the chemicals industry.

Knowing what to look for in 2019 and how an industry-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can make a major difference sets chemicals companies up for a productive new year.

With a positive outlook for the chemicals industry in 2019, ERP considerations should come into the fore for companies looking to drive better operations and controls designed with the industry in mind.

Optimistic projections

The American Chemistry Council projects a 3.6 percent increase in U.S. production for 2019, up from a projected 3.4 percent bump in 2018. The ACC attributes the optimistic outlook to several factors:

  • Rising exports
  • Increase in manufacturing
  • Strong potential for global growth
  • Demand from end-use markets
  • Balanced chemical inventory levels
  • Favorable shale gas economic conditions

That positive forecast follows a mixed 2017 for the industry. The ACC believes optimal economic conditions, continued demand in housing and automotive industries and strong supplies of shale and liquid natural gas will lead the strengthening trend for 2019. Growth is projected for 2019 in coatings, consumer products, crop protections, fertilizers and petrochemicals.

ERP solution

Chemicals companies will continue to need dynamic solutions to maintain efficiencies in areas like inventory management.

What to look for in 2019

For chemical companies looking to stay on the cusp of key industry trends, there are several factors to consider in 2019, including:

  • Changing Demand. As customers get younger, they expect simple access to products and services. They want personal relationships with companies and brands, meaning chemicals companies need to use technology to create two-way relationships.
  • Margins. Recent years have brought tightening pressure on pricing and profit margins. Maintaining operational excellence, such as the use of an industry-specific ERP solution, is a key step for chemicals companies to maximize assets and improve productivity.
  • Regulatory Pressure. Compliance continues to be an issue for chemicals companies to manage compliance obligations from multiple regulatory jurisdictions. To deliver the right reporting and management requirements, companies are increasingly relying on an ERP solution. Doing so allows for better tracking and reporting.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions. The massive mergers and purchases of the past few years are likely to give way to smaller purchases of non-core business assets.
  • Productivity Drivers. The industry has focused on improving productivity over the past two decades with demonstrable results. Maintaining productivity and profitability will continue to give chemicals companies a strong negotiating position with suppliers and customers.
  • Digitalization. As customers demands’ have evolved, so too have the mechanics by which products are sold. Companies are relying increasingly on new marketing and sales practices that previously would have only applied to B2C companies but are increasingly becoming the norm in the B2B space.

The need for industry-specific ERP

While ERP tools have been around for decades, too often chemicals companies have had to make do with solutions that are not built to address their needs. Today’s companies need an ERP that has core functionality that includes:

  • Process Functionality including measurement unit conversions, shelf-life and inventory control and materials planning
  • Tracking and Tracing of products and components to the warehouse and throughout the production cycle with forward and backward traceability
  • Formula Management to track ingredients and intermediates, scale batches and global change management
  • Quality Control for consistency across runs and precise measures of shelf life, product quality and expiration dates

NexTec helps chemicals companies prepare for the future with insights into industry-specific ERP solutions that meet critical needs. Learn More about ERP and see how NexTec helps with the selection and implementation of ERP systems.

Enterprise resource planning software

How the right ERP can address 2019 challenges in chemicals industry

By | Chemicals, ERP | No Comments
Enterprise resource planning software

Chemical companies are bracing for economic and innovation challenges in 2019.

Chemical companies are facing myriad challenges as the calendar turns to 2019. From slowing economic growth to weakening demand in key industries, chemical companies are in greater need for enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools that optimize operations and provide deeper insights.

Here’s a look at the major risks and how the right ERP can address 2019 challenges in chemicals industry.

2019 challenges for chemical companies

What do chemical companies need to consider when planning for 2019? Here are some considerations:

  • China Market. China’s ongoing trade dispute with the United States has led to an economic slowdown in the world’s largest market for chemical products. Weakening growth in China, Europe and other regions are a concern across many sectors. The concern is so significant that in Germany, for example, one publication forewarned of a “toxic 2019” for chemical companies in Europe’s largest economy.
  • Sustainability. Growing regulatory mandates and tighter supplies of energy and raw materials are making it more challenging for chemical companies. Added to the challenge is the increasing expectation for new approaches that promote conservation, sustainability and recycling. Chemical companies will continue to need to innovate in packaging design (making plastics easier to recycle) and battery recycling. There’s also the growing use of alternate energy sources, such as wind turbines, which is projected to grow from 11 percent of European electricity demand sourcing now 25 percent by 2030.
  • Automobile Industry. The decline in demand among automakers is driven by increased investments in engine overhauls to meet restrictive emissions standards and consumer appetite for electric cars.
  • M&A Shift. The massive merger-and-acquisition frenzy that has hit the chemical industry in recent years is likely to slow down. Instead, companies will be looking to acquire none-core components of the newly created mega-companies. These smaller acquisitions will put increasing pressure on operational efficiencies and integration management.
  • Digital Disruption. When it comes to leveraging recently developed innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things, the cloud and data analytics, chemical companies have focused mostly on internal efficiencies and operations. However, as customers increasingly demand new products and disruptive startups threaten to reinvent many industries, chemical companies would be smart to consider new adoptions of technology that are outward-facing. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, connected sensors and 3-D printing are likely to be the foundation of new products.
  •  Deglobalization. The global trend towards retrenchment means chemical companies must be ever-vigilant when it comes to supply chain management, finding partners that can source needed materials regionally and globally. There is opportunity here for chemical companies that need to consider carefully into which markets they focus their footprint expansion strategies.
Enterprise resource planning software

Shifting demand is causing many automakers to focus on changing the way combustion engines are made, a growing challenge for chemical manufacturers.

The need for ERP

The challenges and opportunities chemical companies will face in 2019 make it crucial to use an enterprise resource planning software product designed for the industry. Products need to have the tools that address industry-specific needs such as:

  • Formulation management
  • Chemical property management
  • Recipe management
  • Supply chain optimization
  • Measurement conversions
  • Forecasting
  • Co-product and byproduct management
  • Compliance documentation and reporting

A chemical-industry-specific ERP solution allows your company to collect and analyze data, foster collaboration and transparency, and anticipate and respond to emerging market trends. At NexTec Group, we work closely with chemical companies to identify unique needs and select the right ERP to drive better business outcomes. Contact us to learn more about how NexTec can help your chemical business,.

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Potential risks of customizing a generic ERP to the chemical industry

By | Chemicals, ERP | No Comments
Person working with face mask and protective clothing.

Chemical manufacturers face specific regulatory and technical needs that are best suited by an industry-specific enterprise resource planning solution.

When your chemical manufacturing company is looking to improve operational efficiency and supply chain transparency, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is usually a prudent choice. However, when it comes to ERP selection, there are potential risks in choosing the wrong system.

In recent years, ERP developers have created industry-specific solutions that factor in critical needs that are unique to the vertical. With a deeper understanding of regulatory, procurement, process, and production industry standards, platform makers can deliver solutions that are far more turnkey and pragmatic.

What’s more, these solutions reduce the costs and complexities of customizing a generic solution. Here is a closer look at the potential risks of customizing a generic ERP to the chemical industry.

Why Customize?

Customization of a generic solution is essential for several reasons. Chemical companies face regulatory restrictions to monitor emissions, ensure worker and public safety, and accurately reflect the materials and their potencies on labels. Companies need to ensure that detailed records are kept to ensure audit trails are established and reporting is accurate.

Customizations may also be necessary to ensure that user interfaces, reports and workflows are in order. Other customizations may be added to add industry-specific functionality and integrate with other third-party applications,

Person filling containers with creams.

Regulatory requirements for chemical companies require stringent controls and documentation needed, often from multiple federal and international agencies.

As seen in the recent post, Why Chemical Businesses Should Choose an Industry-Specific ERP, customization is problematic, involving considerable engineering and reengineering of platforms. With customer demands and regulations changing swiftly, this can create tremendous workloads to create even more workarounds to address new complexity.

Here are a few of the inherent risks in going with a generic ERP solution.

  • Sustained Increased Costs. Rewriting code is an expensive proposition. Even seemingly basic changes to code can bring about cascading ripples that permeate the entire systems, from finance to procurement to warehouse management to production scheduling. Developing customizations is only part of the challenge. With each change, the consequences need to be mapped, tested, verified, and implemented. All these steps take time and money.
  • Maintenance and Upgrades. System enhancements are a natural occurrence any complex software platform and ERP is no exception. enterprise resource planning solutions. Maintaining and upgrading to new versions are critically important yet complicated tasks. Installing patches and upgrades means assessing each customization to ensure that the new code does not override other work that’s been done to the system. If changes need to be made to the customizations, you are back to testing, verifying and implementing in a vicious cycle.
  • Production Pressures. Chemical companies today face fluctuating markets, customers that demand new products or variants quickly, and rising costs. Providing rapid production cycles and quality products means having tools that accurately reflect the way chemical companies need to operate to remain competitive.
  • Security Exposure. Software manufacturers develop security protocols based on standard functionality. Customized code, however, may create security holes in your system, exposing the company and its system to hackers intent on controlling the system, stealing data, or installing ransomware. The more customizations, the more potential exploits are created.

At NexTec Group, we help chemical companies with the complexities of selecting an industry-specific manufacturing ERP software solution that meets their unique needs. Contact us to learn how NexTec can assist your chemical company with their ERP needs.

Person working in a chemical warehouse.

Regulatory compliance is easier with chemical industry ERP software

By | Chemicals, ERP | No Comments
Person working in a chemical warehouse wearing protective clothing.

The sheer scope of chemical industry regulation makes the need for an industry-specific software solution more essential.

The chemical industry is one of the most highly regulated, with federal and global mandates dictating specific processes and monitoring to ensure worker and public safety. Failure to comply with the wide range of applicable regulations can have costly ramifications for chemical makers.

Choosing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool that’s specific to the chemical industry can help reduce the risk of failing to comply while ensuring that audit trails, reporting, and automated controls are in place. A look at the functionality that many ERPs offer makes it clear why regulatory compliance is easier with chemical industry ERP.

As seen in the recent post, Why Chemical Businesses Should Choose an Industry-Specific ERP, regulation is one of the key factors driving more businesses to eschew generic ERP solutions in favor of one that has key functionality that’s critical to chemical companies.

Regulatory Scope

A quick glimpse at the vastness of regulation affecting the chemical industry shows why industry-specific tools are a must. In the U.S. alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors spills, emissions, exposures, and releases. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) tracks worker health and safety in the workplace. The Department of Transportation (DOT) governs the transportation and storage of materials, ingredients and finished products.

The EPA also manages hazardous waste regulations and the use of fungicides, insecticides or rodenticides used or made. If the chemical company is using food or drugs, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) may also be involved. That’s just the domestic alphabet soup. A litany of international and state regulations may also apply. Among the most notable are the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical Substances (REACH) guidelines, which govern companies doing business in the European Union.

With so many agencies involved, the challenge comes in having a solution that allows for efficient production and sound regulatory compliance. That’s where your company needs enterprise resource planning software that has features that allow for accurate response to regulatory requirements. Without an industry-specific solution, companies are likely to face expensive third-party workarounds that try to address the critical needs.

Woman with a glass flask pouring liquid.

Chemical companies need careful tracking tools to monitor each batch and lot.

Chemical Industry Specifics

Your ERP solution needs to address key factors that affect compliance within the chemical industry. They include:

  • Formula Management. ERP features need to include formula and recipe management tracking and storage, unit-of-measure conversions, the use of substitutions, and the ability to scale formulas accordingly to meet demand and facility scheduling.
  • Quality Control. The system should support, track, and automate quality control functionality. Quality tests on incoming purchases, standing inventory and finished products need to be easily scheduled and results tracked. Workflow management needs to track materials from warehouse to operational units, with easy tracking of lots and batches.
  • Inventory Management. Waste and rework are major cost centers for many chemical companies. Your ERP should be able to track lot and serial numbers, grade, container, disposition and shelf life attributes.
  • Material Safety Sheets. Detailed sheets on each material being used should be stored, tracked, and accessible by all employees to ensure that known qualities and reactions are well understood.

At NexTec, we help companies determine the right ERP solution for their unique needs. Contact us to see how NexTec can improve the selection and implementation of your industry-specific ERP.

Enterprise resource planning

Quality control in the chemical industry demands an outstanding ERP

By | Chemicals, ERP | No Comments
Woman with a with protective clothing working.

Industry-specific quality control allows chemical companies to reduce costs, improve production, and boost reputations.

Quality control is a priority in the chemical industry, ensuring that products are made according to the right formulas and that finished goods can be rated at the appropriate potency, eliminating loss of revenue or waste.

That’s why having an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that’s customized for the chemical industry needs to be an essential part of any IT strategy. As seen in the recent post, Why Chemical Businesses Should Choose an Industry-Specific ERP, there are considerable other benefits to choosing a solution that is made to meet your chemical company’s needs. Frankly, quality control in the chemical industry demands an outstanding ERP.

Defining Quality Control

Quality control in the chemical industry is designed around a simple premise: mistakes happen. However, while recognizing that errors, defects and problems are going to occur, quality control focuses on identifying and solving those issues early.

Catching issues and problems early in the production process ensures that batches are not ruined and that products do not need to be recalled. Quality control involves regular and consistent testing and analysis of products to ensure that any suboptimal results are corrected soon.

Benefits of Quality Control

With great quality control work in place, chemical companies can gain a decided market advantage. Among the core advantages of sound quality control are:

  • Lower costs due to reduced waste and better co-product and byproduct results
  • Greater productivity and less down time
  • Improved reputation management with customers and clients
  • Better supply chain relationship and transparency
  • Improved industry-wide reputation
  • Compliance with federal, international and industry regulations
  • Enhanced worker and consumer safety
  • Better reproducibility of results via standards and sample measurement accuracy

The advantages are clear. What’s not obvious is why a generic ERP solution is problematic. Basic ERPs are designed to meet the needs of the broadest customer base.

However, the requirements of your chemical company are likely nuanced and industry-specific. Purchasing a generic ERP solution means costly customization, work-arounds, or third-party applications necessary to meet standards and compliance mandates.

With an industry-specific ERP, you’ll be working with a vendor that has focused on building a product that is created with chemical companies in mind, with standard features that are suited for quality control needs.

Woman placing liquid in a glass tube.

Your chemical company needs an enterprise resource planning solution that can function within industry guidelines and norms.

An Industry-Specific ERP Solution

With an ERP solution designed to support chemical companies, you will have features and functionality that supports and enhanced your quality control work. Using automation tools, reporting, and data analysis capabilities, your chemical industry ERP solution offers an array of tools to leverage all the benefits of a strong QC program.

While features of your enterprise resource planning solution may vary, here are a few of the standard items in an industry-specific ERP:

  • Plan and checklist tracking
  • User-defined values for accepted, tolerance, and recount statuses
  • Tracking and quarantining of products
  • Sample pulling from batches
  • Sample analysis
  • Report and data archiving
  • Customizable quality control reports
  • Data analysis and recording
  • Monitoring tools
  • Marking items in inventory with at-risk and other QC statuses
  • Integration of results with Safety Data Sheets
  • Inventory disposition management driven by QC status
  • Certificates of Analysis generation

At NexTec, we work closely with chemical companies to understand their specific needs. We help identify vendors and products that are built to meet those needs, both for quality control and other industry-specific functionality. Contact us to learn more about how NexTec is a trusted partner for chemical company’s looking to improve performance, operability and quality.

Chemical worker with protective clothing.

Why Chemical Businesses Should Choose an Industry-Specific ERP

By | Chemicals, ERP | No Comments
Chemical worker wearing protective clothing.

Chemical manufacturers can use industry-specific ERP tools to drive productivity and profit.

What does your chemical company need to drive innovation, spur collaboration, and maximize production?

For many in the chemical industry, enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools provide transformational opportunities to bring systems and people together in new ways. However, if you’re a chemical company, using a generic ERP system could cause more headaches.

Instead, companies should focus on ERP solutions that are designed for your industry, with features that address specific needs and complexities of working in the chemical industry today.

Here is a closer look why chemical businesses should choose an industry-specific ERP.

ERP 101

An enterprise resource planning system provides your company with a dynamic technology solution that allows for integration across the enterprise and the supply chain. With ERP tools, companies can better collaborate both internally and with partners to maximize efficiency and discover new solutions.

While the components vary from system to system, most ERP solutions integrate some combination of accounting, finance, human resources, sales and marketing, production, R & D, customer relationship management and procurement systems. ERPs allow for better automation of processes, transparency of information, and real-time decision-making.

ERP solutions have been available for several decades, but are more critical today, given the rise of global competition, the use of disruptive technologies to change business models and practices, and customer expectations for rapid turnaround and introduction of newly sought products.

Industry solutions needed

You need an industry solution that addresses key issues inherent to the field. Going with a generic solution risks not having critical features that are intrinsic to chemical manufacturing. This means your company will end up with expensive customizations or work-arounds to ensure that you are compliant and competitive. Often these work-arounds are suboptimal, depriving your company of the functionality it needs.  Those costs are unnecessary when you select a solution that is designed and implemented specifically for chemical companies.

Industry-specific ERP solutions have grown in popularity in recent years. ERP makers now create solutions designed with the industry needs addressed up front, eliminating or greatly reducing the need for customization work.

In many cases, manufacturers work with solution providers that know the terminology, needs, business procedures, and compliance issues specific to an industry such as chemical manufacturing. These solution providers understand the ERP marketplace and allow for better selection, installation and training processes. Your company saves time and money it would have spent exploring solutions, evaluating vendors and understanding productions and functionality.

Among the key needs are:

Regulatory Compliance.

Most chemical companies are heavily regulated. You want a solution that has tools that allow for better compliance, both throughout the manufacturing process and in the reporting and audit management processes.

You need a solution that responds to domestic and international regulatory demands, including those from multiple agencies. For each regulatory mandate, you need a system that automates tasks and the collection of data to ensure you remain in compliance. Whether its compliance with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals or agency-specific requirements, having the right tools in place can alleviate reporting complexity and reduce the risk of fines.

Consistency

Customers depend on accuracy in the products you make. Maintaining consistency and accuracy in formulas, batches and properties is essential to ensure you’re making and delivering the right products. Accuracy and precision in manufacturing also results in fewer errors in processing, less waste, and less downgrading of products.

Supply Chain Management

In the chemical industry, you need accurate and on-time availability of materials. Knowing what is happening within the supply chain, including communicating with partners, vendors, suppliers and transporters. With a high-level view of your supply chain, you’ll be able to make better decisions faster.

Cost Savings

With heated competition in the industry, companies need to find ways to reduce production costs, logistics and transportation costs. Using the integrated functionality within an ERP, driving off of a single source of data, allows companies to create greater efficiencies and reduce costs.

Chemical worker with protective clothing.

Chemical production needs tools to monitor supplies, formulas, and quality to remain compliant.

Needed functions

As you begin to consider an industry-specific ERP solution, you should look for a vendor that offers the products with features that address regulatory, production and supply chain matters. Here are some of the key functionalities that your enterprise resource planning software should offer:

  • Formulation Management. Formulation begins with R&D, allowing for formula management and tracking. Formulation practices provide for accurate batch development with accurate measurements by volume, weight and percentage. Accurate formulation calculations are critical to improved batch quality and consistency.
  • Chemical Property Management. Be sure that your system tracks each chemical’s composition, characteristics, shelf life, potency and reactions with attribute management tools.
  • Supply Optimization. Your ERP solution should allow you respond to rapidly changing demands and respond better to variances in purchasing, production or shipping.
  • Recipe Management. Like other process manufacturers, you want a system in place that allows for accurate recipe tracking, management and reporting. For the unique needs of a chemical manufacturer, choose an ERP that has the functionality to manage your product formulations and allows for rapid tracking, editing and analysis.
  • Quality Control. For regulators and customers alike, you need processes throughout the manufacturing process that ensure quality standards are met. With the right system tools, you can ensure that raw materials and finished products meet both internal standards and regulatory requirements. Tracking data allows you to monitor trends, identify vendors or suppliers, and address issues quickly. Automation tools allow for samples to be pulled, analyzed and documented. Quality control tools also allow for better customer relations, brand reputation and workplace safety.
  • Cost Analysis. The chemical industry is a highly dynamic field, with market fluctuations causing changes in prices and availability regularly. To manage your expenses and pricing, you need an ERP that can monitor and anticipate market conditions, allowing you to act quickly to acquire needed materials and set optimal prices for your products.
  • Measurement Conversions. Effortlessly convert and track measurements across systems automatically.
  • Supply Management.  As markets and prices fluctuate, you can find yourself with too much inventory or short on needed materials. An ERP allows you to better manage inventory, resulting in less waste and overstock of the ingredients necessary for optimized and efficient production scheduling. An ERP can make sure you have the right ingredients in the right quantities when you need them in your facility.
  • Shelf-Life Management. With hundreds or thousands of raw materials in your possession, you need tools that track your inventory and optimize usage. Expiration date controls ensure that your supplies are optimized and waste is reduced.
  • Forecasting. Whether you have multiple warehouses and production locations or single sites, you need tools that allow you to monitor existing inventory and forecast future needs. Many ERP solutions come with easy-to-read graphical representations of inventory levels that allow for better planning of replenishments.
  • Accessibility. You want a solution that allows your employees to access data, controls and other functionalities from any device, anywhere. Your ERP should allow easy access regardless of operating system or mobile tool. ERP tools should allow you to access intuitive web-based interfaces to access data, run reports and make adjustments.
  • Lot Traceability. In the face of public and regulatory scrutiny, companies need a solution that rapidly allows for the management of recalls. Lot management also allows for better labeling and expiration management. In the case of a recall, your ERP tools should allow for the rapid identification of sources, batches and scope, allowing for better and faster responses.
  • Co-Products and By-Products. It’s inevitable that there will be co-products and by-products to your chemical manufacturing processes. Your ERP should be able to track these products and allow for the proper labeling and pricing.
  • Comparative Manufacturing. As a process manufacturer, you need to understand variations in the process. Automated tools can track and record actual versus anticipated yields, planned inputs versus planned outputs, providing you with the clarity you need to make adjustments in continuous flow manufacturing.
  • System Monitoring. Eliminate time-consuming and costly manual processes to monitor systems with automated tools that allow you to measure and track performance. On-demand reporting can provide senior leaders and other decision-makers with tools they need to better analyze performance, understand and address inefficiencies, and optimize systems.
  • Compliance. Your ERP should have cross-functional features that allow for compliance with multiple regulatory guidelines. You need a tool that allows for automated reporting and audit trail management.
  • Safety. Ensure that employees are safe and informed of the materials with which they are working by tracking Safety Data Sheets within your ERP and making them accessible to all users.

A partner with chemical industry expertise

To provide leaders with the information they need, NexTec partners with the top providers of chemical ERP solutions. Our experienced consultants work closely with our clients to understand their needs, budgets, and processes.

With extensive knowledge of the vendors, products and features, NexTec helps chemical companies identify the ideal ERP solution that meets needs now and in the future. We help ensure that selection and implementation are seamless and efficient, allowing your teams to leverage the capabilities quickly.

Contact us to learn how NexTec can help your chemical manufacturing company find the right industry-specific solution.

Manufactured goods on a conveyor belt

How your ERP Is a competitive differentiator in the chemicals industry

By | Chemicals, ERP, Sage X3 | No Comments
Three bottles of amber liquid.

Chemical companies can improve their competitive advantage by using enterprise resource planning tools to maximize production efficiency.

Excel spreadsheets and disparate databases are no way for a modern chemical manufacturing company to run its operations. To remain competitive today, given the highly regulated industry constraints and the need to protect workers and the public, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is the ideal way to manage complexity and innovate.

As seen in the recent post, The Industries Where Your ERP Choice Is a Major Competitive Differentiator, innovation can mean the difference for companies looking to gain an upper hand on the competition. Here’s a closer look at how your ERP is a competitive differentiator in the chemicals industry.

Many chemical companies have been to slow to adapt digital technologies that are transforming other industries, Companies that act on the opportunity provided by enterprise resource planning software can gain a decided advantage, increases revenue, improve efficiency, and offer new services to customers.

In an industry that has resisted change, there is a marked gap between companies that adopt technologies and those that still rely on pencils and papers to track data, schedule processes, analyze markets, and ensure regulatory compliance and worker safety.

Here are a few of the ways an ERP solution can lead to competitive advantage:

  • Supply chain optimization. By sharing data and insights throughout the supply chain, companies are far better equipped to solve issues, identify solutions, and innovate. ERP tools help track performance and order histories, identify patterns, and find ways to reduce costs from suppliers and improve operations. Transparency empowers collaborators internally and externally to innovate.
  • Formula management. Ensuring the accurate measurements, concentrations, potencies, qualities, and reactions is critical. Even minor errors can result in downgrades to products, waste, or rework.
  • Production agility. An ERP solution allows for the optimization of machines, personnel, and products. With frequent variations to products a key component of many manufacturers, scheduling production to reduce turnovers, cleaning and decontamination while maximizing production is an important consideration.
  • Product development. Chemical manufactures can use the data from sales and usage to spot trends, both broadly and targeted, in determining new products or formulations. Adapting to actual or anticipated market demands allows manufacturers to reduce risk and time to market.
  • Consumer sentiment. As the general public expects companies to be more environmentally aware, manufacturers can use ERP features to reduce reliance on products that have negative connotations or environmental impacts.
  • Regulatory compliance. The tightly regulated chemical industry needs solutions that ensure worker and public safety. Your ERP can use automation tools to monitor ingredients, intermediate mixes, and final products, measuring temperature, warehouse conditions, and other factors. Automation tools also allow for the tracking, recording, and reporting on these conditions, resulting in a higher degree of compliance.
Worker repairing a piece of machinery.

Predictive maintenance alerts generated via ERP tools can limit downtime on the chemical manufacturing floor.

Sage X3 is a powerful ERP solution for chemical manufacturers. With Sage, companies can leverage industry-specific features that provide a competitive advantage, including formula management, unit-of-measure conversions, shelf life management, potency management, and analysis certification.

NexTec Group helps companies identify the right ERP solutions that meet critical business needs. Give Sage X3 a try and see how NexTec Group can give your chemical company a competitive difference.

The industries where your ERP is a competitive differentiator

The industries where your ERP choice is a major competitive differentiator

By | Cannabis, Chemicals, ERP, Food and Beverage, Sage X3 | No Comments

ERP solutions can help ensure compliance in a range of industries.

When compliance is not an option, your manufacturing company needs an enterprise resource planning solution (ERP) that provides the proper tools to ensure regulatory adherence. There are three industries where your ERP choice is a major competitive differentiator: food and beverage, chemical, and cannabis.

Why are compliance issues so critical in these areas? Because each is heavily regulated to protect the public. Ensuring compliance is on the manufacturers, with required reporting and documentation necessary to meet regulatory requirements.

That’s where enterprise resource planning solutions play a key role. ERP solutions allow your company to complete the requirements put in place by multiple regulating agencies, often using automated tools to measure, record, and track. These tools can automate the preparation of required reports and audit trails. In addition, in the unfortunate case of a recall, ERP solutions can provide information that allows your company to respond faster and mitigate impact on customers and reputation.

Let’s take a closer look at each industry and why having an ERP is a major factor when it comes to compliance.

Food and Beverage Industry

Similar to life sciences, the food and beverage industry faces extensive regulatory scrutiny from domestic and international regulations. In 2017, for example, major elements of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act were enacted, requiring manufacturers to develop preventative controls to protect food for humans and animals. The FSMA also requires companies to have mitigation strategies in place to protect from food supplies becoming adulterated, compliance with transportation guidelines, and verification procedures to ensure safety standards are being met by foreign suppliers.

Like in other applications, an enterprise resource planning solution integrates multiple components of the enterprise, from accounting to operations to warehouses management to business intelligence. When it comes to compliance issues, this integration is critical.

With an ERP solution in place, companies can automate the measurements, monitoring, and recording of data required to maintain compliance with FSMA and other guidelines in place by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other federal and state agencies. Ingredients can be monitored closely at each step in the supply chain, allowing your organization to generate detailed reports at the moment of need.

In the case of an incident, a robust ERP platform also allows for rapid tracking and tracing of ingredients. Manufacturers can quickly determine the scope of an incident, down to the batch number, and determine the customers and consumers effected. ERP solutions help not only in the mitigation of such incidents, but also in the communication about these incidents to customers, consumers, stakeholders, the general public, and regulators.

Automating these tasks reduces the likelihood of human error from factoring into the reporting. It also allows for audit documentation that is easy to generate and detailed.

Here are several other areas where ERP solutions help with compliance.

  • Processes and procedures. Multiple federal, state, local, and international agencies may have regulatory requirements. Tracking, updating, and maintaining these guidelines can be complex, as there are often subtle yet important nuances for each agency. Each agency may also have different reporting and documentation standards. With an ERP solution in place, manufacturers can track these variances, record and report, and present documentation necessary to meet the requirements of myriad agencies.
  • Scheduling and Ingredient Management. To ensure that the public is safe from allergens and contamination, recipe management and production scheduling are critical. When factoring in warehouse management, clean-out times, staff scheduling, and the need for efficiency, scheduling is a complex subject. ERP solutions can coordinate employee and machine scheduling, cleaning schedules, and warehouse management while developing optimal production sequences that maximize efficiency.
  • Employee Training. Ensuring that workers understand the machinery they are using, the products they are making, and the ingredients with which their working is an important component of many compliance standards in the food and beverage industry. That’s why ERP solutions make sense. By coordinating staff training, documenting that training, and ensuring the proper reports are available if needed, the ERP helps to ensure compliance, improve employee development, and save time for HR and employee training staffs.
  • Transparency. ERP solutions allow for better transparency across the supply chain. By providing access to data among staffs, suppliers, and distributors, an ERP solution can bring to bear the collective insights of multiple players. If there is a compliance issue that requires a change in processes or procedures, access to this data can allow for the best solutions to be brought to the fore.

Chemical Industry

Compliance in the chemical industry is critical. If formulas are not followed accurately, products can be misapplied, resulting in death and damage. Here are some of the key ways an ERP solution benefits compliance in the chemical industry.

  • Procedural compliance. Chemicals used in production are often hazardous yet need to be transferred, used, and handled. Each chemical requires a protocol to determine how workers interact and use the material involved. ERP tools can maintain the necessary specifications for each ingredient in use, maintain records on the handling and use, use automation tools to monitor, track and record usage, and reducing the likelihood of errors that can affect worker health and safety.
  • Formulation analysis. As manufacturers or their customers request new products or variations on old ones, careful calculations need to be made to ensure that hazards are known and that procedures are developed or adjusted to fit. An ERP tool can help determine if the new formulations are safe and if changes need to be made. ERP software can also ensure that chemical and product strengths and qualities are accurate and that labeling matches.
  • Maintenance and calibration. A key component of compliance is ensuring accuracy. That means that tools, measures, and other equipment is working accurately and properly. Scheduling maintenance, and documenting the results, means compliance. Alerting employees to measurement errors or needed maintenance also ensures that production does not lag and that operations continue working efficiently.
  • Storage and access. Security is critically important to chemical manufacturers, and with an ERP tool, automation and sensors can assist with access control, rules management, and monitoring of environmental conditions that can adversely affect supplies and product.

Cannabis Industry

Along with the upswing in cannabis use and product selection, comes an increase of rules and regulations from local and state regulatory agencies governing its production and sale. For the growing cannabis industry, these rules are critical, not just for individual business viability, but for broader credibility with elected officials and the public.

With the industry, and the regulation of it, so new, it’s inevitable that there will be many changes and additions to existing regulatory mandates.

An ERP solution for the cannabis industry is essential to ensure compliance across the broad aspects that are regulated: finances, production, waste management, inventory tracking and management, licensing compliance, packaging, labeling, and taxation.

An ERP solution, for example, could track plants from seed to sale, providing data from multiple locations that can be documented, as can the finished products.

ERP tools can also handle the important security considerations with the cannabis industry. Customer data access and privacy continue to be hotly contested issues, particularly in an industry where federal and state laws vary significantly. Insecure storage of this data could be costly from regulatory and PR perspectives.

The Right ERP For Your Manufacturing Company

Choosing the right solution for your enterprise resource planning needs is essential. With Sage X3, companies have a comprehensive solution to meet their specific and complex compliance needs.

Here are just a few of the key resources available in Sage X3 that address compliance:

  • Inventory Management. Sage provides tools to manage and analyze inventory. Warehouse operations can stock, pick, and fulfill orders faster and accurately. Reports and analytics allow for decisions about product profitability, inventory, and order to cash issues.
  • Operations. Sage simplifies traceability, allergen reporting and recall management. It optimizes production schedules, speeds up turnaround times, and increases productivity and efficiency.
  • Traceability. In the case of a recall incident, Sage offers full traceability of products from manufacture to point of sale. Immediately see the impact of a recall.
  • Quality Control. Compliance relies on internal controls, measures, and processes to ensure the accuracy and safety of ingredients, products, and processes. Sage tools allow for the implementation of quality control procedures, tracking of ingredients throughout their life cycles, and creation of audit trails and related documentation.
  • HR. Training, managing, and retaining staff is critical. With ERP tools from Sage, you can integrate, payroll, benefits, recruiting, self-service, training, and analytics to ensure your employees remain focused on the work and have the right tools and training to maintain compliance.
  • Business Intelligence. Business intelligence allows your company to spot trends, stay on top of the competition, and draw insights from centralized data that can ensure your growth strategies align with compliance requirements.

NexTec Group helps companies navigate the complex array of ERP solutions. Our expert consultants work closely to understand the needs of each customer and identify the right ERP. Give Sage X3 a try and see how NexTec group can help develop and implement your ERP solution.

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Exploring digital transformation in the chemical industry

By | Chemicals, ERP | No Comments
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Digital disruption is driving more data to help make better decisions at chemical companies.

Technological innovation is driving dramatic digital disruption in the chemical industry. These changes are having a profound impact on all aspects of the chemical enterprise, from sales and marketing to operations to supply chain.

What are the key technological drivers and how are they driving change? As seen in the recent post, 8 Operational and Accounting Challenges for the Chemical Industryexploring digital transformation in the chemical industry leads in many directions … and opportunities.

There are five core technological advances that are creating the extensive changes in chemicals:

  1. The Internet of Things, which has driven the generation, storage, and collection of data from myriad sources. As objects are connected to each other and to humans, they provide deeper insights and potential opportunities to use the data better. The cost to generate, store, and collect the data is also relatively low.
  2. Cloud solutions that provide the ability to collect and use that data better. With cloud solutions, companies can provide access to shared datasets to employees and supply chain partners. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions allow companies to bring together disparate data sets from across the organization, organize it, and use it for more effective practices.
  3. Advanced analytics programs can extract relevant information from unstructured data from myriad sources, and present that data in dashboards and reports that are most useful to end users. With information, often in real time, employees can optimize operations and make faster, well-informed decisions.
  4. Machine learning uses artificial intelligence and other technologies that help identify maintenance and repair issues. Equipment is optimized for less downtime due to repairs or broken tools.
  5. Blockchain, the tech used by cryptocurrencies, provides secure and transparent methods to monitor transactions for supplies, materials, and products throughout the supply chain, from source to customer to consumer.
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Automation is helping to improve accuracy and machine learning is optimizing production as chemical companies look to leverage new tools.

The technologies can be applied in many ways to improve business processes, shape demand, and create new business models.

Business Process Improvement

Most of the data generated by the chemical industry today is discarded. However, companies that use the data effectively can discover improvements to yields, lower energy usage and cost, and more effective maintenance scheduling and execution.

Other technologies can lead to automated vehicles like self-driving forklifts, robotic container filling, improved stability, and fewer accidents. Automated plant performance-management systems and better scheduling to optimize production capacity are possible.

Sharing insights across the supply chain leads to more transparency, better sourcing, and better logistics and warehousing.

Data generated from marketing, production, and past sales can lead to more effective sales and marketing teams via more targeted advertising, optimized pricing, and monetized usage data. R&D teams can use data to shorten discovery cycles and create higher-margin, higher-valued products.

Demand Changes

As more goods are purchased via digital platforms, packaging costs are likely to be reduced, which could have adverse impacts on some chemical companies, especially in petrochemicals and plastics. However, that threat also creates opportunities for companies that think differently about packaging and related commodities.

Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is on the rise, as is the demand for the polymers and chemicals used in the process. It is possible the industry will seek specialized products and opportunities to partner with other players in like industries.

New Business Models

The digital changes also provide a window for chemical companies to rethink business models. Companies need to consider whether they will become disruptive players or are at risk of being disrupted by upstarts or competitors.

Companies need to determine if the tools and data at play today can be monetized or deployed in new ways to disrupt markets and acquire market share.

At NexTec Group, we help companies understand the complexities of digital disruption and find the right ERP solution to drive innovation. Our teams know the vendors, markets, products, and features, helping chemical companies select and deploy a platform to meet emergent business opportunities.

Download the NexTec Corporate Brochure to learn how NexTec can help your company stay ahead in an era of digital transformation.