Selecting the Best Chemical Manufacturer
- October 08, 2020
Now that you have a need for chemical manufacturing or blending, how do you decide which company is the best choice? Choosing poorly could open you up to long lead times, inferior quality, or wasted time and money. Choose well and you’ll be amazed at how much value your partner adds to your production process.
These are a few qualities and items to look for in your chemical manufacturer:
First and foremost, you have to know if a manufacturer can get the job done. Depending on how developed your product is, this may mean simple blending or it could mean a full scope of services from R&D through shipping. Assuming you need a turnkey solution, here’s what you need to consider:
- Research Capability: If your formulation needs some work, your chemical manufacturer’s prowess at the research and development, lab scale, and scale-up stages will be crucial. It should be able to help you determine through testing, pilot batches, and other means if a new product can be safely and successfully produced on a large scale.
- Processing Capability: The company should be able to perform a wide range of reactions and processes on a slew of different chemicals, including green products and hazardous materials. More importantly, it should be able to combine these into any necessary combination to deliver a custom final product.
- Logistics Capability: Packaging, repackaging, private labeling and printing, marketing support, and transportation are all important considerations, as well. A manufacturer that can handle all of these with ease is an incredible value-add, especially regarding chemical transportation, which often entails numerous regulatory requirements.
Just as important as asking whether a manufacturer can produce your chemical is, can it produce your chemical at your desired scale? And can it do it in time to meet your deadlines?
This requires having not just enough chemical blend tanks but an array of specialized reaction, grinding and milling, distillation, and other equipment that can handle hazardous or flammable materials, if necessary. It also means having ample storage capacity to warehouse your products until you’re ready to ship.
In fact, it’s best if the manufacturer has significantly more capacity than you currently need for your project so that you can scale up at any time, if desired.
3. Certifications and Registrations
Certifications and registrations serve as a testament to a chemical manufacturer’s quality management, ability and legal authority to work with chemicals, especially hazardous materials, concern for the environment, and more. Some of these qualities are simply added benefits of hiring that company, while others are essential requirements that must be met before you entrust them with your business.
Certifications and registrations are typically attained by passing a rigorous inspection carried out by an independent body or government department. They must be renewed periodically to remain active, typically on an annual or biannual basis. Important ones to check for include:
- ISO 9001:2015: Although not specifically created for the chemicals industry, the International Organization for Standardization’s 9001:2015 standard certifies a manufacturer provides high-quality products that meet all regulatory requirements, while delivering excellent customer service. Because ISO doesn’t do its own certifying, there’s no central database of ISO-certified companies, so you’ll need to request certification documents from the manufacturer and then follow up with the third-party auditor they used.
- EPA: Makers of pesticides, disinfectants, and various other chemicals must register each product with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which evaluates its ingredients and proposed usage to ensure “no unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment will occur.”
- FDA: The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, effectiveness, quality, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products, and medical devices. The FDA is also responsible for the safety and security of most of our nation’s food supply, all cosmetics, dietary supplements and products that give off radiation.
- NSF: Short for National Sanitation Foundation, the NSF provides certification for a number of different food standards and label claims, such as kosher, non-GMO, organic, and plant-based. A chemical manufacturer with the NSF seal on its products has been evaluated within the last year regarding its compliance with health department rules and its truth in advertising.
- UL: Being certified by Underwriter Laboratories attests to a chemical manufacturer’s equipment safety, sanitation, and regulatory standards for a variety of industries, similar to NSF. You can search UL’s product database, find letters of UL compliance, and more at https://productiq.ulprospector.com/en.
4. Quality Assurance
ISO 9001:2015 certification is an easy way to gauge whether a manufacturer has a thorough quality management system, but if it’s not certified, you’ll need to inquire what kind of system is in place. For example, keeping detailed batch manufacturing records makes it possible to identify exactly at what stage of production a single batch went awry. These records may include information such as:
- the manufacturing start and end dates;
- time and date of steps’ completion;
- all materials and amounts of each used;
- personnel sign-offs;
- in-process check(s) results;
- equipment used;
- batch yield and reconciliation;
- deviations (if any); and
- Quality Control information.
5. Company Profile
Approach your chemical manufacturer choice as you would selecting any other business partner by analyzing each of these characteristics of the company, as well:
- History: Corporate longevity is typically a sign they’re doing something right. Many companies state what year they were founded on their website, but to verify it, you can check its articles of incorporation. There are a number of different tools for doing this, most of them paid services. For example, in Texas you can find incorporation documents online through the Secretary of State’s SOSDirect tool.
- Industry experience: Just because a manufacturer has been around a long time doesn’t necessarily mean it’s experienced in your particular field. A proven track record providing chemicals for a certain industry typically means a manufacturer is up to date on new developments in that industry and has the know-how to guide you when you need advice.
- Reviews: Assuming they didn’t just launch last week, your manufacturer candidate should have references or testimonials of previous and/or current customers they can pass along. Of course, you can always seek out feedback left online, as well.
- Financial stability: Does the manufacturer have the means to pay its own employees and get your project done, or is it using your project as a lifeline to stay afloat? Auditing a publicly traded company is simply a matter of examining its investor relations documents, such as the balance sheet. For a privately held company, you can request credit references and look for red flags such as demand for payment up front or the appearance of excess capacity, which could mean orders are low.
- Communication: A manufacturer’s responsiveness, transparency, and flexibility in its communications with you can indicate a lot about how much emphasis it places on customer service.
- Location: A manufacturer with multiple locations that lie near the ultimate destination or major shipping hubs can help you keep shipping costs down and optimize your delivery times.