Collaboration in Developing and Commercializing Specialty Chemicals

  • December 20, 2023
  • Blog
Two businessmen shaking hands

Specialty chemicals like those made here at Seatex play a crucial role in today’s marketplace. For the construction industry, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and more, specialty chemicals help meet evolving consumer demands, ambitious sustainability goals, and tougher regulatory standards.  

The commercialization path is different than that of a commodity chemical, however. The need for rapid product design and short time to market are even greater for these low-volume, high-value chemicals. This makes healthy communication and information sharing between the involved parties essential.  

Transparency, collaboration, and healthy communication coupled with advanced technology solutions and synthesis capabilities for over 50 years has positioned Seatex as an industry leading custom manufacturing partner.

Here’s how manufacturers and customers can and should collaborate to ensure the successful rollout of a specialty chemical…

Customizing for Superior Results

Unlike manufacturing commodity chemicals, in which the emphasis is typically on some combination of efficiency, pricing, and/or optimizing production for scale, specialty chemicals are designed to deliver precision and high-performance. Their ability to target the desired application with enhanced specificity is a direct result of the advanced customization that goes into their creation. 

The customer brings the market knowledge to the partnership, understanding the shortcomings of products currently on the market, buyer’s wishes and pain points, and opportunities to seize market share. The manufacturer uses this context and its knowledge of chemistry, material availability and cost, safety, and other factors to develop the parameters of the formulation and make tweaks to the product until it aligns with all the customer’s goals.

Seatex can manufacture even the toughest custom chemical requirements, including heated products, flammable materials, molecular change reactions, and scrubbing and gas-off.

Conducting R&D More Closely

Because there is no standardized procedure for manufacturing a new specialty chemical, or for testing it once made, these processes have to be carefully developed by the manufacturer and customer working together to fine-tune the formulation. This may include:

  • plastics chemical composition testing
  • chromatography
  • contamination analysis
  • chemical residue/trace analysis
  • extractables and leachables studies
  • REACH testing

Seatex utilizes advanced methodologies and state-of-the-art laboratory equipment to ensure products are made exactly to customer specifications.

Establishing a Longer Relationship

Because the typical application for a specialty chemical is so targeted and the design carefully engineered, a small change in consumer tastes, regulatory standards, or even the economics of raw materials could disrupt its marketability. Improvements and tweaks will likely need to be made on an ongoing basis, and starting over from scratch with a new manufacturer would mean significant knowledge loss and time spent getting them up to speed.  

Thus, the manufacturer and customer need to create a longer-lasting relationship than they would if commodity chemicals were at issue. A customer could switch from one manufacturer to the next based solely on pricing, without suffering adverse consequences in supply or quality. 

With a specialty chemical, each party has a vested interest in continuing the collaboration and keeping it vibrant.

Sharing the Risk

Risk-sharing agreements have become popular in many manufacturing sectors in recent years, particularly those involved in complex products such as cars, computers, and aircraft. Although these agreements are typically made to designate a lead manufacturer and one or more sub-assembly manufacturers, the risk-sharing benefits could be attractive enough in a specialty chemical manufacturer-customer relationship to warrant a similar approach.

Partnerships allow for an early exchange of ideas to aid product development, can provide the manufacturer with access to capital for unique upfront investment costs, and can enhance the expertise of both parties.

Acknowledging More Complex Compliance Demands

The compliance standards for commodity chemicals are well-established and will be well-known to experienced manufacturers. However, because specialty chemicals may have novel impacts on public safety and health and the environment, achieving compliance becomes a complex issue that may require both parties’ involvement. 

Even if the customer assumes the lead role of ensuring compliance in initial development, the manufacturer may help prevent business disruptions down the road. With the insider knowledge gleaned from sources in government, media, and peer companies, it may be able to give the manufacturer advance notice of planned updates to applicable laws governing the product so that the manufacturer can pivot and stay ahead of the curve.  

Sustaining the Communication and Feedback Loop

If it hasn’t become clear already, the collaborative specialty chemical manufacturing environment demands regular communication. Ideally, this will be made plain at the start of the relationship and made possible and efficient by incorporating information sharing software. A non-disclosure agreement may also help make the customer feel more comfortable sharing the information the manufacturer needs to make the best product.

Accepting a Longer Time to Market

The innovation of an exciting new specialty chemical takes time that you wouldn’t have to spend producing a commodity chemical. The increased time-to-process, which covers the period from product development to finalization of the process design, can add weeks or even months to the timeline. 

The product’s marketing and the education of end-users also slows time to market, although these aspects are arguably more ripe for collaboration than the testing activities. Not only could you potentially double your reach by working together, but the sharing of market insights and customer feedback between the manufacturer and customer can lead to the optimal strategy for getting your messaging in front of your target audience.

Dealing with More Complex Supply Chains

Engineer holding laptop in assembly plant

The supply chain disruption of recent years has adversely affected the production of chemicals of all kinds and proven the importance of reliable sources. This will be even more true of specialty chemicals, which often require hard-to-get raw materials. 

By pulling together, the manufacturer and customer may be better able to secure dependable sources as well as redundant supply options. The same applies to distribution channels–working together to find distributors that add value for both parties.

Work with Seatex and Collaborate with the Best

We have a long track record of success and a reputation as a trusted partner for companies who make products that involve specialty chemicals. Let us help you develop, produce, and commercialize your next revolutionary specialty chemical formulation.