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What Is the Challenge Faced by the Chemical Industry and How Does Custom ERP Software Respond to It?

by Vitaliy Podoba
Vitaliy Podoba avatar

Every business engaged in chemical production or custom synthesis needs automation. 

So, there’s no need to explain why an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that ensures business automation is a must-have thing in the modern business environment. 

However, that’s when a more specific question breaks in: should you choose an off-the-shelf ERP system and customize it to fit your needs or hire a software development team that will provide you with a unique solution that is fully customized according to your business needs? 

There’s no simple answer to this question because everything depends on your company and business processes. 

In this article, we will tell you what an ERP system and the main advantages of custom ERPs over out-of-the-box solutions are. 

So, if you are managing a chemical laboratory, a custom synthesis company, a chemical manufacturing site, or embracing all these ventures with your business, this is your lucky day. 

You’ve just found a comprehensive overview of custom ERP development for chemistry, supplied with the list of benefits of custom solutions and points you should consider while launching such a development project. 

Continue reading if you want to know all of the above points and even more!

What Is an ERP System for the Chemical Industry?

Chemical ERP development is no longer a benefit but a necessity for chemical industry businesses. 

Just imagine a bank providing its services to thousands of customers and keeping all documents, receipts, and contracts only in print. 

No chance that they will handle the business with modern-day speed and organization without descending their processes into chaos. 

Same with chemical labs, manufacturers, and custom synthesis companies. Even if we’re talking about a small venture, there are so many processes that digitization and automation are mandatory for keeping everything in control. 

That’s when ERP software comes into action. What does an ERP system do?

It provides businesses from the chemical industry with the following features: 

  1. A centralized and shareable Electronic Lab Notebook, such as the PerkinElmer journal.
  2. Compliance tracking features for MSDS, ISO9001, cGMP, OSHA & GHS, and other industry-specific regulations.
  3. Features that help you generate the reaction method and Certificate of Analysis (COA) with a single click.
  4. Functionality for organizing production, traceability, and recording with the bulk (batch) chemical planning and processing.
  5. Formula adjustment features and formulations.
  6. Interoperability between a lab, a warehouse, and other parts of your infrastructure.
  7. Functionality for accurate cost accounting per LOT, chemist, and sales order.
  8. Lab trial and manufacturing reporting features.
  9. Features for departments managing supply and product distribution chains.

But aren’t these all the features provided by off-the-shelf solutions? Actually, no. Even if a particular ready solution can offer you most of the functionality mentioned above, custom ERP development has evident benefits. 

The main Advantages of Custom ERP over Off-the-Shelf Solutions

So, without further ado, let’s overview the main benefits of choosing custom ERP development instead of using ready solutions. 

Increased Efficiency and Teamwork

Each team that works in the chemical industry has its unique structure and approach. 

Even such a well-known product as PerkinElmer ERP doesn’t consider some specific features of your business. For example, it may lack functions that help you coordinate your processes with 3d-party vendors. 

That’s why a custom solution perfectly fits you. It is something that helps you improve the work of YOUR team specifically. 

Item Master & Batch Management Extension

If your laboratory embraces the batch process, the surface for reactions is your most important asset. 

Meanwhile, some out-of-the-box ERP solutions may lack functionality for managing your items and surfaces. 

That’s why it is always better to come up with a custom solution that will include the item and batch management functionality you need. 

Monitoring and Analysis

If you want to improve your quality and avoid unpleasant surprises, you should ensure continuous monitoring and analysis of your operations.

That’s where out-of-the-box solutions may fail because they can just fail to understand your operations.

For example, they will provide the basic functionality for monitoring the stages of custom synthesis, while you need additional mechanics for assuring the quality of your product. 

So, if you want to get something more than a generic monitoring and analysis functionality for your chemical industry processes, go for custom ERP development. 

Supply Chain and Production Optimization

Each supply chain is unique, and the chemical industry is no exception. 

Surely, an off-the-shelf solution will provide you with functionality for basic control over a supply chain. 

But supply management will work much faster and more efficiently if the ERP solution is customized according to your processes and approach. 

For example, it may consider different transportation methods for lab materials or offer functionality for buying the materials you need. 

Easier to Support and Maintain

If you start custom development from scratch, there’s an opportunity to make your solution more customizable.

Whether you anticipate potential upgrades or implement flexible application architecture, customization goes much simpler if the app that needs it is your own custom solution. 

In this case, you can handle all the upgrades you need in the shortest terms and at a minimum cost. 

Easy History Tracking Recording

To make the right decisions in the future, you should understand your past decisions and be capable of comparing the two. 

At least, ERP solution history tracking is what will help you compare your current processes to past processes. 

But doing history recording the right way may be challenging with an out-of-the-box solution. 

A significant benefit of custom solutions is that you may develop the most efficient way for recording your solution history in the database while creating such software. 

Planning for Material Needs and Inventory Management

Even though ERP applications are focused on resource planning by default, they don’t necessarily provide all the functionality required for efficient inventory management. Especially if we are talking about solutions developed for laboratory management.

This may become a problem if you’re running something much bigger than a custom synthesis lab. 

For example, if we are talking about a full-fledged production line. 

That’s why you may need very specific functionality for managing raw material inventory. 

And that’s exactly what you can get with a custom ERP solution. 

Global Scalability

Out-of-the-box solutions have scalability limits. And any significant scale-up or scale-down may require solid customization. 

This means that it will cost you a fortune. 

Scaling is much easier if we are talking about custom solutions because you can anticipate your scaling needs while developing an app. 

So, you implement scalability features that are adjusted to your needs specifically. 

That’s how you may save your time and budget in the future.

Easy Accessibility on Mobile

Often, custom synthesis companies require their employees to report and access data in real time. 

Carrying laptops or running to them after each action may be very complicated.

That’s why mobile compatibility is a very important thing when it comes to chemical company ERP. 

Unfortunately, not all off-the-shelf solutions run well on mobile devices. 

And even fewer of them allow you to configure mobile experience according to your needs. 

That’s why custom development may become your panacea. You can create an app that provides the mobile experience you need. 

Improved Reporting & Information Management

Different laboratories, custom synthesis companies, and industrial manufacturing sites may need different reporting formats.

Whether it goes about specific audits or internal reporting, these formats may differ dramatically. 

In the situation when only you know which reporting format and information management approach is suitable, go for a custom solution. 

In this case, you will configure everything to fit your needs. 

Cost Group Evaluation

Unlike most off-the-shelf solutions, custom development will allow you to develop a solution with integrated cost group evaluation features.

This will allow you to identify the precise input and costs for the final outputs. All you should do is just integrate the recipe or bill of materials data in your solution. 

As a result, you will get more control over price fluctuations and a better insight into the financial side of chemical inventory management. 

This will help you improve cost-efficiency of your processes. 

How to Create Better Capabilities with Custom ERP for the Chemical Industry

Actually, chemical industry ERP development has a quite common development flow. 

The most specific part here is planning your product, its functionality, and user flows.

So, here are the most important steps in planning your custom ERP for the chemical industry. 

1. Review Important Chemical Industry Challenges

Not all challenges in the chemical industry apply to you. 

At the same time, there may be specific challenges that apply only to your business. For example, your country has specific regulations for managing and storing reactions. 

Your task is to identify the most relevant and specific challenges. 

This will become your starting point in developing the list of features that your software needs. 

2. Consult with Key Team Members

Nobody knows the practical side of your custom synthesis or chemical manufacturing process better than your team members. 

Make sure to consult with them to understand what they need.

For example, if they’re having problems with materials, provide more functionality for supply chain and inventory management.

Or, if they struggle with recording synthesis results, invest in a state-of-the-art lab journal. 

The key point here is asking the right questions and understanding their needs properly. 

3. Determine the Need for Third-Party Integrations

Some ERP systems require third-party integrations to run efficiently. 

For instance, if you provide supply chain management functionality, go for integrations with interactive online maps. 

The key point here is to predict all these integrations in advance. Otherwise, you will add them on the run, which is far from reliable. 

4. Investigate Product Support

Even when your ERP system is released, you will need to pay much attention to its further optimization and support.

One more time, you should focus on anticipation. 

Whether it goes about maintenance or implementing new features, try to predict all these tasks in advance. 

Ideally, even before you start active ERP system development. 

5. Plan Scalability

Also, try to be more forward-looking while planning your solution’s scaling features. 

Custom development offers you great opportunities for planning future scale-ups and scale-downs. 

Just make sure that you start working on your platform’s scalability potential before you actually develop it. 

That’s when cloud technologies may come in handy. 

6. Check Technology Requirements

The right tech stack is the main pillar of your solution’s performance, scalability, and reliability. 

And it’s always better to leave this question to tech partners that know the business. 

My team uses a combination of Python/Django and React for most software development projects. 

The most important thing here is that we’re ready to handle the “tech stack question” while you will focus only on the business side and plan your ERP system’s features. 

7. Consider Long-Term Costs

To manage your costs efficiently, try to be forward-looking as much as possible. 

Try to plan your budget a few years ahead. This means planning the cost of future upgrades and scale-ups long before you should implement them. 

There will definitely be unexpected expenses, but such planning will help you manage your budget more efficiently.

8. Choose the Best Way to Develop the Solution

Without further ado, finding the right technology partner is a win-win strategy if you want to develop a chemical industry ERP system that perfectly fits your needs. 

For example, ask SoftFormance to handle the technical side while focusing on business questions. 

We certainly know how does an ERP system work and what it needs. 

With a clear list of requirements, we will develop your dream ERP in 6-12 months, depending on the complexity of your project.

That’s an approximate term separating you from your ideal product that is perfectly customized to fit your needs. 

Key Takeaways

If you don’t want to handle a bunch of chemical industry processes manually and get overloaded with various tasks, go for an ERP solution. 

Ideally, it should be a custom platform because off-the-shelf solutions may fail to provide you with all the required functionality. 

And customizing an out-of-the-box platform may be a costly and challenging task. 

That’s why, according to the ideal scenario, you should come up with a clear vision of your custom solution and ask my team to develop it.

We at SoftFormance have solid experience in developing chemical industry ERP solutions, such as Ceriumlabs, so we definitely know how things should be handled in this sphere. 

And we have the right arsenal of technologies that will help us handle your project in record terms and at a reasonable price. 

So, contact us now, and let’s start your journey to chemical industry automation. 

FAQ

What is ERP in the chemical industry?

Chemical industry ERP helps labs, custom synthesis companies, and chemical manufacturers plan their resources. In addition, it can provide them with a lab journal, staff management features, and other important functionality. 

How is ERP used in the chemical industry?

ERP systems help companies from the chemical industry streamline their processes, manage inventory more efficiently, distribute tasks, control supply chains, manage regulation compliance, and so on. 

What is the main benefit of custom ERP for chemical manufacturing?

Custom ERP solutions allow chemical industry businesses to manage their functionality, scalability, and customizability more efficiently. Therefore, such solutions allow companies to run their processes more efficiently than off-the-shelf solutions. 

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