Neutralizing chemical warehousing pain points
Monday, May 14, 2018
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — Warehouses are a hot item right now. Inventory is shifting out of brick-and-mortar space and into vast warehouses, where retailers are conducting their ever-growing e-commerce operations.
This kind of space might be hot, but for chemical manufacturers, third-party logistics (3PLs) and distributors — this space can actually be hard to come by.
In a session at WERC 2018 at the Charlotte Convention Center, conducted by William Miller, director of business development of the Faure Brothers Corp., attendees tackled the issues they all face while trying to provide responsible care of regulated and hazardous chemicals. The group collaboratively hashed out what they found to be the most challenging aspects of this particular warehousing vertical.
"The question really boils down to — does the warehouse really know how to handle chemicals?" said one attendee.
That comment set the tone throughout the duration of the conversation, and ultimately the attendees found that their pain points were not unique to themselves, but served as pain points across this particular warehousing niche.
First and foremost, the group agreed the primary issue at hand was space. The warehouses currently set aside to store and distribute chemicals are either already at capacity or have no interest in growing that particular division. The attendees found that they are lacking the space to even grow.
"Whether you like it or not — everything that is created has some sort of attachment to chemicals. So avoiding this really doesn’t make any sense," said another attendee.
The growth of the personal care product industry in particular is driving quite a bit of the growth, as well as the increase in production of aerosols.
Procurement and people
Once the space is found, however, the challenge doesn’t end there, they agreed. While the warehouse might be available, do they have the people and training necessary to provide the services necessary for proper chemical handling.
"There is a huge spectrum of needs that comes with warehousing chemicals," said another participant. "The employees need a particular skill set for containment, class and safety of these products."
Once the place and people are provided, the veil of regulations takes hold. The warehousing of chemicals has to follow regulations at every level: local, state, federal and international. Every local and state government has a different way of doing things, so there is no clear cut protocol for setting up shop.
Challenges aside, the conversation also gave way to possible solutions and best practices on shared experiences. While they recognized these were some real pain points, they realized a shared awareness is the first step to moving forward.
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