ChemVM Blog

Designed for All Chemical Users, from Process Engineers to Procurement

October 21, 2020   |   5 min read time    Michael Van Marle Michael Van Marle

Finding a chemical service provider that is an ideal match for your projects, which may range from complex reaction chemistry to custom blends and packaging, bulk storage, and transportation, can require weeks or even months of searching. Suppliers you normally use may not have the right capabilities or location for the new project and searching for a new one poses many challenges that often force you to make sacrifices to stay on track to avoid putting your project timeline and company profits at risk. Complicating things is the uniqueness of each customer’s project and the specific expectations they hold.

From our research and decades of experience in the chemical industry, we have found that most customers seeking custom chemical processing services fit into three primary groups based on common needs and challenges they face in finding the ideal service partner:

  1. Procurement and Supply Chain leaders
  2. Process Development Engineers
  3. Product Entrepreneurs

Below, I'll briefly describe each customer group and how we are working to alleviate their challenges as we design and develop the ChemVM digital platform. 

 

Procurement and Supply Chain Leaders

Procurement and supply chain business leaders often take the lead in searching for chemical service providers for custom blending, packaging, and warehousing projects as well as more complex reaction chemistry projects in coordination with a technical project team. Their primary responsibilities include searching for new suppliers, negotiating and managing vendor contracts, reducing costs, and managing risk.

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As they evaluate the ideal service provider’s capabilities in these key service areas, procurement professionals balance the best price with other needs such as timing, proximity, reputation of the service provider, availability, certifications, and safety/environmental performance. Historically, procurement and supply chain managers have found service providers through existing relationships, trade associations and events, and internet sources such as LinkedIn and Google.

A key challenge for procurement and supply chain leaders is the need to be thorough but also efficient, due to tight project schedules and a heavy team workload. It’s difficult enough to keep costs down and save time while finding the ideal service provider, and anything that puts them at risk is usually avoided.

As we designed our procurement and matching tool for chemical service providers, we have kept procurement managers in mind. As shown in the screen shot below, we've created an interface that is intuitive for the non-technical business user so you can quickly input your project requirements and get to matched service providers to choose from. Moreover, each time you use the tool, you will get better and faster results since your preferences are saved.

 

Chemical procurement and supply chain leaders use ChemVM to quickly search for service providers

Process Development Engineers

Process development engineers carry the critical responsibility of managing the scale-up and commercialization of new products. They understand their project’s technical needs in detail and are looking for service providers with specific technical capabilities and equipment to move their projects forward toward commercialization accurately and efficiently.

When looking for a service provider to help scale up a new product or process, or to perform a specific chemical operation that cannot be done in-house, process development engineers need to ensure productivity, accuracy, and timeliness. It’s imperative they partner with a chemical service provider that is competent, reliable, and has both the technical and industry expertise as well as the equipment to get the job done.

Trying to find the ideal service provider using the internet and personal networking is often a slow process, taking weeks or months to find the right capabilities. Broad and unfocused searches yield lots of extraneous information and don’t provide the necessary quality and reliability. While industry-specific directories can help narrow the search, you are still left with the arduous work of researching each potential provider, and emailing or calling to verify capabilities and availability, which can take weeks and still lead to sub-optimal results. Additionally, contacting large numbers of service providers carries some risk, since you projects are often highly confidential, requiring NDAs and other time-consuming tasks to even talk with service providers about their needs.

 

Chemical process engineers can use the ChemVM app to search for service providers in a confidential, secure environment

In developing the platform with the process engineer in mind, ChemVM provides a confidential and secure matching tool you can use to enter your project technical needs in great detail, with confidence. You will be matched with a selected group of service providers that meet your specific equipment, capabilities, expertise, and availability requirements. You can then choose among these pre-qualified vendors and select the exact ones to contact and how much detail to share, without having to broadcast your project to the whole industry. This saves you precious time, keeps your project schedule on track, and provides a faster and more efficient path to commercialization of the new product.

 

Product entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs put their heart and soul into their businesses. They build their companies from scratch and employees, partners and customers turn to them when things go wrong. Every day, entrepreneurs and business owners juggle dozens of responsibilities, managing cash flow, staff turnover, customer satisfaction and future investments. In short, they wear many critical hats, doing whatever it takes to keep their business moving. There isn’t much room for risk, and no extra money or time to waste on trial-and-error approaches to problem solving. 

Of all these responsibilities they carry, one of the most important is overseeing the creation and launch of new products such as private label car wash detergent or a custom formulated energy drink to extend their brand and generate revenue. In the early stages of product development, some or all chemical production steps - from creating the formulation to manufacturing small batches for market testing - often have to be outsourced to custom or toll service providers. It’s critical for the entrepreneur to find a partner that is reliable, knowledgeable, and will keep important information confidential. From food and cosmetic products to personal care, automotive, and other packaged goods, finding a service provider with industry expertise and the right capabilities who can meet budget requirements is of utmost importance and yet the process can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.

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Product entrepreneurs are just as likely as supply chain leaders and process developers to turn to the internet and trade associations to search for the perfect service provider. However, while these can be helpful resources in many situations, finding a service provider this way can be time consuming and inaccurate. A slick and professional website can make you think a company has more capabilities and experience than may be the case. Entrepreneurs may also turn to trusted friends and colleagues who have seen good results from their providers in the past; however, if that service provider isn’t a good fit, it can mean delays in getting your product to market. You are left scrambling to find the funds to make things yourself without the necessary formulation or chemical handling expertise.

Creating a platform that is as easy to use for the entrepreneur as it is technically deep for the process engineer was a critical challenge we faced. We continually wrestled through each screen to ensure it is really intuitive for all levels of users. Our matching tool can be the answer for entrepreneurs everywhere who are looking for trustworthy service providers to help them make quality, cost-effective products.

 

Conclusion

Finding a service provider can be an intimidating, exhausting, and risky task, but it doesn’t have to be. With digital platforms like ChemVM - the only one specifically designed for the chemical services - the future of searching for chemical service providers is getting much easier. We at ChemVM have decades of experience in the industry and thousands of hours of research and development to make our procurement tool intuitive and usable for every type of customer. Whatever your role and situation, ChemVM can help you find a chemical service provider that is the best fit for your ideas, vision, and needs.

 

 

Join the ChemVM beta to find a chemical service provider for your processing, formulation, packaging

 



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