How the Right Mix of Technology & Managed Services Can Help Chemical Companies Compete and Grow

Chemical industry leaders should ensure their teams and facilities are equipped with updated technology.

Delanie Sloan, Vice President of Professional Services, Management Controls

May 28, 2024

4 Min Read
Technology & Managed Services can help chemical companies compete and grow
A managed services provider offers numerous benefits.Totojang/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

It’s no secret that the transition toward clean energy is driving an increase in chemical demand.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) predicts global industrial chemical output will rise by 1.8% in 2024 after a more sluggish .6% in 2023. The organization also expects global industrial production to pick up this year to 2.9% after just .3% last year.

Although those percentages might seem incremental, the chemical industry supports more than two-thirds of emissions-reduction technologies necessary to meet net-zero goals by 2050, whether refrigerants for heat pump systems, solvents for semiconductors, or battery materials for electric vehicles and storage solutions.

To stay competitive amid projected growth, chemical industry leaders should take extra care to ensure their teams and facilities are equipped with technology to keep their processes as cost-effective and safe as possible.

Challenge: Tedious, Manual Processes

Companies often staff up their contractor workforce to prepare for an uptick in chemical production. However, without the right technology, it can be challenging to balance three big manufacturing musts — safety, productivity, and cost containment.

Owners want to ensure the workplace environment is safe for employees and contractors alike. Still, it can be a tedious, manual chore to monitor workers for compliance with safety requirements. Adding to this time-consuming work is the need to track projects against time and budgets, monitor equipment usage and maintenance, and approve contractor invoices.

Trying to track so many moving parts in a web of data silos and outdated, manual systems, mean processes, procedures, and other things can slip through the cracks.

For instance, work will come to a screeching halt when equipment can’t be located or if it needs unscheduled maintenance. And costs skyrocket without keeping overtime, fatigue management, material spend, and so on, in check.

Solution: Real-time Data & Visibility

The right contractor data and spend management software helps chemical manufacturing leaders measure, track, and make informed, data-driven decisions about routine maintenance, shutdowns, turnarounds, outages, and capital projects in one place.

Capturing such data helps owners boost efficiency by having visibility into worksite productivity and progress, ensuring workers, management, and anyone else involved are all on the same page. By using technology to address challenges like the availability of skilled labor, equipment, and materials early and proactively, owners can minimize delays and pricey mistakes to maximize productivity.

For example, consider how real-time visibility into fatigue management can provide benefits to all. According to OSHA, working 12 hours per day comes with a 37% increased risk of injury. Fatigue- and health-related lost productivity time at work costs employers an estimated $136.4 billion annually.

Fatigue management becomes reactive rather than proactive if you’re using outdated methods or systems to track each worker’s hours. Now, imagine trying to ensure adequate breaks or downtime, and monitoring consecutive on-the-job days.

However, the right contractor data and spend management software can provide insights into fatigue thresholds. Automated email alerts can let managers know if a worker has been on the job for too many hours or days by proactively monitoring employees’ timecards. For example, data can show if a worker has been on the job for 13 consecutive hours or 13 consecutive days.

Using real-time access gate data, time can be tracked and flagged so lives and companies are safer. Managers can then proactively mitigate risk by reducing dangerous overtime shifts or by sending someone home before they are so fatigued that an accident occurs.

Similarly, contractor data and spend management technology provides real-time visibility into the contractor workforce and for equipment usage as well. For example, it can show you what equipment sits idle or what pieces of machinery need routine maintenance, which helps to contain costs.

Secret Weapon: Managed Services to Extend Your Workforce

Hiring a managed services provider offers numerous benefits, such as providing in-depth expertise, helping you scale up or down as business waxes and wanes, and increasing operational consistency.

During your busiest times, like when you receive a new order with a tight deadline, chemical industry leaders can lean on managed services to provide structure to focus on the areas in which your company excels. A managed services expert can quickly support turnover and high-volume times and without adversely impacting operations.

A third-party managed services provider with robust technology can:

  • Safeguard budgets and profitability by ensuring timesheet and invoice errors are a thing of the past.

  • Drive ongoing improvement by automatically collecting data and using insights from it to make business enhancements.

  • Help procurement identify leakage, waste, and gaps in contracts and empower them to negotiate promising agreements using historical data.

  • Uncover and help eradicate safety breaches by finding out whether vendors are misusing access cards.

A managed services provider that understands the complexities of the chemical industry can perform tasks like contractor management, data analysis and insight, onboarding, collaboration, continuous value optimization, and contracting strategies. The right expert with the right platform can help businesses identify opportunities to improve productivity, reduce contractor and equipment spend, and find greater success.

An Eye on the Future

All indicators point to steady growth in the chemical industry. With decarbonization efforts in full swing, many sectors depend on the chemical industry to meet lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

The right technology can help industry leaders increase safety, productivity, and cost containment. Real-time insights can help you make impactful data-driven decisions. And finally, a knowledgeable managed services provider can serve as an extension of your team to help you thrive in a changing, competitive environment.

About the Author(s)

Delanie Sloan

Vice President of Professional Services, Management Controls, Management Controls

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