Digitization is streamlining the transportation of hazardous materials for global chemical companies
The world is different today than it was at the beginning of 2020, mainly due to the coronavirus which has brought about big changes in the economy, socialization and business execution.
Global chemical companies are helping to fight the virus by ramping up production of hand sanitizers, polymers for personal protective equipment, bleach for disinfectants and cleaning products.
Polyvinyl chloride, used to make construction pipes and vinyl liners, is now incorporated into medical tubing and IV bags. Polypropylene, a plastic used for vehicles, is now being transformed into medical-grade personal protective equipment, such as masks and goggles. And over-the-counter and prescription drugs contain many chemicals — many of these drugs are used to treat patients with COVID-19.
Faster and safer transport
With the increase in production comes the demand for faster and safer transportation of raw materials or finished products to end users. This forces trucking companies to ship and transport chemicals safely to protect the environment and humanity. These companies need to step up their digitization efforts to speed up processing. By eliminating spreadsheets and paper, businesses can speed up workflows, increase productivity, reduce errors and improve compliance.
In transportation operations, a digital supply network acts as a technology platform for business-to-business processes and supply chain relationships. It connects suppliers, buyers, shippers and third-party logistics providers, enabling them to better communicate, collaborate and do business with each other. Manual processes such as submitting a purchase order, confirming order acceptance, and confirming shipment are automated, with paper or email translated into appropriate formats where the document can be shared with others electronically.
Visibility into carrier availability
The digital supply network provides visibility into carrier availability, helping logistics operators plan and optimize truck and carrier capacity. Logistics signals the need for a load, and network carriers can respond with their available assets, lane pricing and driver availability. Carriers can respond that they have the correct credentials to handle dangerous shipments and loads can be scheduled.
The transport of hazardous materials is faced with complex regulations that are constantly changing. These regulations require many companies to track and trace products from raw materials to the end customer. To meet stringent compliance regulations and operate at peak efficiency, businesses need complete visibility for real-time product traceability across the extended supply chain.
Dangerous goods carriers must use technology that provides visibility into in-transit shipments so that shippers know where their products are at all times. Having visibility of orders across all channels, partners, regions, and systems and across the entire order lifecycle, from entry to proof of delivery, helps ensure the shipment is safe and transported correctly . Alerts can be created if a problem in sending occurs and customers can be notified. Having visibility of a shipment in transit can alert customers in real time to where their orders are at all times.
Documentation and packaging
Hazardous material shipments must be accompanied by clear documentation including the bill of lading, hazardous waste manifests and a description of the material being transported. This description includes the weight and quantity of the materials as well as a description of the packaging.
Dangerous goods shipments must include emergency response information on the shipping document. This information details the procedures to follow in the event of an incident. Descriptions of how to prevent fires and what to do in the event of a leak are often included in this documentation.
A digital supply network promotes comprehensive record keeping, because without proper records and documentation, companies can be deemed non-compliant for unsafe shipments, resulting in great financial risk.
In these difficult times, it is crucial that chemicals and hazardous materials are shipped in the correct packaging and handled by workers wearing protective equipment, including safety glasses and waterproof gloves. According to UPS, hazardous materials must be packaged in multi-layered packaging that “consists of inner receptacles, cushioning and absorbent materials, and outer packaging that has been designed, manufactured, tested and certified for containment classes and packaging of specific hazardous materials”. groups.”
One of today’s big concerns in handling hazardous materials is shipping COVID-19 test samples. Existing medical evidence suggests that the coronavirus can live on certain packaging materials – for one day on cardboard boxes and three days on plastic. Therefore, manufacturers must train workers to handle this packaging, while providing them with the appropriate protective equipment.
These infectious-like substances are classified as dangerous goods and therefore certain packaging and shipping regulations must be strictly observed. Private or contract carriers must meet certain requirements for shipping these goods, such as ensuring that test samples are shipped frozen. If samples are shipped via standard carriers like UPS, shipping requirements are more stringent and workers must be trained specifically to handle these shipments.
Shipping hazardous materials, whether infectious substances or highly flammable chemicals, requires special care and handling in manufacturing, packaging and transportation operations. To ensure safety and compliance, visibility must extend end-to-end across the supply chains of all parties involved, including carriers, shippers, manufacturers and raw material suppliers.
Connecting to a digital network, automating processes across the network, and collecting information from transactions performed across the network ensures that hazardous materials will be transported in the safest and most secure manner possible. Additionally, information collected across the network can be shared, analyzed, and measured for performance and continuous improvement initiatives.