Handle With Care: How to Be the Best At Fulfilling Your Clients’ Chemical Handling Needs
Chemical handling is an important function of a third-party logistics provider. If your firm is looking to source a chemical handling partner or currently handles chemicals and wants to perform better, our guide below illuminates some key factors to finding the best fit.
1. Explain your chemical business thoroughly, so potential providers know their duties. Allow your incumbent provider and any potential providers in the RFP process to learn as much as they can about your business. A potential provider should demonstrate intimate, near-encyclopedic knowledge of your business, operations, and current and future needs. Be sure to communicate must-do, regularly repeating tasks, current and past lean projects (so the potential providers know about any past inefficiencies and challenges), and a list of future goals. A strong provider should be able to explicitly address how it will be able to resolve challenges and improve your organization's processes.
Be on the lookout for the kind of top-performing provider that combines integrated teamwork, commitment to delivering absolute reliability to your business, and dedication to going beyond the normal scope of work to best serve the client.
2. Make sure your provider considers or complies with industry partnerships/memberships: Responsible Care and Operation Clean Sweep. Responsible Care is the global chemical handling industry's premier environmental and safety initiative, holding many organizations, companies, and non-profits accountable for safe and responsible chemical handling. American Chemistry Council companies are strongly encouraged to participate in Responsible Care initiatives for responsible chemicals handling.
However, for companies like 3PLs, participation in Responsible Care is strictly voluntary. Becoming a Responsible Care Partner entails adhering to Responsible Care commitments to improve performance in the fields of environmental protection, occupational safety and health protection, plant safety, product stewardship and logistics, as well as to continuously improve dialog with neighbors and the public, independent from legal requirements. The initiative is global and currently active in 52 countries. Responsible Care is not simply marketing or symbolic.
Joining the Responsible Care initiative as a Partner involves taking a leadership role with chemical manufacturers and distributors to ensure products are handled safely and in sustainable, environmentally friendly ways. If your potential chemical handling provider is committed to safety and health, as well as efficient and sound logistics, it will commit to Responsible Care Partner designation.
Similarly, Operation Clean Sweep, a product stewardship program of the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division and Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), helps to strengthen your provider's commitment to sustainability. Operation Clean Sweep's goal is to help every plastic resin handling operation implement good housekeeping, including pellet, flake and powder containment practices. The ultimate goal of OCS is to achieve zero pellet, flake or powder loss. Should your organization handle plastics, your provider's participation in—or compliance with—Operation Clean Sweep standards is paramount for good housekeeping, safety and health.
3. You get what you pay for; beware of the "too-good-to-be-true" price. After providing your thorough and complete scope of work to the provider, getting to know its labor force and capabilities, and ensuring the provider has all necessary partnerships in place, the final and most important step is to ensure your price expectations are aligned with the provider.
It is essential to consider what you know about your company's current operations. Are you certain the account will require after-hours receiving and shipments? Expect to be charged accordingly, and trust that your provider will spell out its justification for pricing to the utmost degree in its RFP response.
If a potential provider responds with a lowball pricing offer, be sure to consider your incumbent provider's strengths and consider the value of their work, including future proposed projects and past performance. A potential low-cost provider that does not know your business well may fail dramatically at delivering high-performance chemical handling. The lowball offer may overlook essential elements of your business, such as the need for same-day bulk transfers or for frequent relabeling. Accepting a low-cost offer from a provider that is not prepared to take on the workload could end up costing your company more in the long run.
Using these three strategies, your company can gain the knowledge needed to find an expert provider in the chemical handling industry. WSI, one of the nation's largest 3PLs, has been handling chemicals for decades. We are a current Responsible Care Partner and Operation Clean Sweep participant, handling chemicals for some of the largest distributors and manufacturers in the world.