Building Connective Tissue into Fine Chemical Markets: The Importance of Global Chemical Suppliers and Sourcing Partners
The industries dependent on manufacturing and acquiring fine chemicals—like pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals, cosmetics, nutrition, and agriculture—have always been complex due to the nature of their work. Their strong reliance on distant starting material and chemical sources in our globally connected world has increasingly caused challenges associated with supply chain disruptions. Supply chains and manufacturers that support these industries are sometimes impacted by unpredictable and uncontrollable issues, like changes in regulation, increased demand, political disruption, or public health crises.
COVID-19 has accentuated these risks by demonstrating how surprisingly fragile critical supply chains can sometimes be. Responding to the pandemic and addressing key supply chain issues that risk business continuity has been the near-term focus of industry leaders. Long term, manufacturers and organizations within these industries will need vigilant tactical strategies to remain agile enough to pivot quickly and maintain their businesses, thereby protecting the integrity of global supply chains. Product developers often need support from their manufacturing partners to help navigate these financial and operational challenges. However, managing a network of manufacturers worldwide places a profound burden on product developers, especially if they lack in-house regulatory and quality assurance know-how.
Instead of going at it alone, many organizations rely on fine chemical suppliers to fill in this difficult role and act as connective tissue. A body’s connective tissue exists to connect, protect, and support vital organs that must work in unison to keep the body healthy. This is quite similar to the role chemical sourcing and procurement partners can play to fortify supply chains. The support of an experienced chemical supply team removes the burden of individually managing supply chain issues and sourcing challenges. An experienced chemical supplier can efficiently find alternate supply solutions while addressing regulatory and compliance needs, as well as quality assurance. When looking for a chemical sourcing partner, it’s important to identify one that will synchronize with your team. Below we discuss three key benefits of finding an ideal chemical sourcing partner and what to look for, building on our own 70-year experience at Aceto.
Global Supply Chain Depth and Security: Your body is far from being just a mass of muscle and skeleton. If those were your only two components, you wouldn't get very far because you need connective tissues to hold those important pieces together. Likewise, supply chain management might not be on the top of your mind, but it's necessary to get you moving and keep your business together and stable. While it may appear you can easily function directly with chemical manufacturers and your product development team, without fully connecting these groups and teams, it is unlikely that they will work in harmony. With support from a chemical supplier managing your supply needs, you will benefit from the stability of always knowing that your sources are reliable and high quality. Additionally, chemical suppliers with global footprints complete with local warehousing capabilities provide an extra level of supply chain security by bringing critical materials within close reach of end-users, regardless of where they are. By combining connectivity, supply options, and vast chemical warehousing, a supply partner can anticipate and react to manufacturer issues for you so that you can keep your eyes on making your product.
“A chemical sourcing partner with access to reputable and diverse supply chains can go beyond only constantly sourcing the standard starting materials, pharmaceutical intermediates, APIs, ingredients, and specialty chemicals. They can find niche products that companies may have difficulty sourcing, which further unites your product development work,” said Gilles Cottier, Chief Executive Officer. “A strong supply partner also provides choice to their clients by connecting them with thousands of production plants, rather constraining them to a single producer. Your ingredient sourcing partner should have a broad network of manufacturing plants and warehousing operations in multiple countries to cement rapid access to countless products and insulate you from worldwide chemical manufacturer limitations and disruptions.”
Proficiency in International Regulatory Compliance and Quality Control: Your connective tissue can protects all body parts, wherever they are located, to ensure overall health. Similarly, a good chemical sourcing partner provides knowledgeable in-country staff who are experts on your company’s needs, as well as export guidelines, regulatory affairs, tariff restrictions, documentation labeling, and packaging requirements to protect your organization from legal problems. Not having a handle on these details can snarl the delivery of required ingredients, significantly impacting production timelines and budgets. Your partner should not only be up on the latest industry regulations; they should also conduct scheduled, rigorous plant audits to confirm and maintain the security and integrity of the ingredients you are sourcing.
“Your chemical sourcing partner should intercede to translate the needs between product developers and manufacturer, to be sure to protect your supply with safely delivered high-quality ingredients,” remarked Varun Vijay Rao, Chief Procurement Officer. “Your supplier should have staff in the countries they operate to provide language-specific support, taking the ambiguity and margin for error out of the equation and making the process more efficient.”
Your brand reputation and identity are riding on the quality and integrity of the ingredients you source for your products. In addition to regulatory affairs knowledge, you’ll need quality assurance practices in place to ensure you get sufficiently pure and safe ingredients for your product. As one recent example, Nitrosamine impurities, like the known carcinogen NDMA, were found in several major drug products prompting the FDA to issue warnings and product recalls, costing many big brands money and credibility. A manufacturing partner will work with suppliers to verify the purity of the products you are sourcing to ensure your company brand is not damaged and help you find alternate supplies if issues arise.
“We’ve seen how overlooked quality control details can have a widespread negative impact on organizations. Affiliating with a partner that has vetted supply chains, a keen focus on quality assurance, and compliance procedures in place ensures the chemicals are clean of contaminants. Naturally, this gives you peace of mind knowing that your products are being developed with high-quality materials,” commented said Ed Roullard, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Operations.
Partnership that Supports Production Timelines and Budgets: Connective tissue also provides structural support for your organs that keeps them functioning and producing as your body needs. Similarly, a chemical supplier can add additional structure to your procurement to ensure cost and timeline needs are readily met, giving you greater competitiveness on the market. Identify a fine chemical supplier that will support your development project through every milestone in the production cycle and has a clear understanding of your timelines and the financial implications of missing those milestones. A partner with a vested interest in your success will deliver your complete order on time while minimizing acquisition costs, including; ingredient cost, excise, custom, and insurance costs. While cost efficiency and supply chain integrity are essential aspects of a material supply relationship, a true partner should provide a full range of support services.
“We’ve been told by customers that outsourcing supply and manufacturing of key fine chemicals and intermediates gives them a competitive edge in the market. Partnering ultimately reduces development time, accelerates product launch, and makes purchasers more agile when addressing regulatory and compliance demands,” Keith Wilkinson, President of North America, said. “It may seem that managing production timelines and budgets are the customer's responsibility. That should not be the case when working with a chemical sourcing and procurement partner. Your success should be a priority, and your partner should work in lockstep with you to minimize overruns that impact timelines. You should work with a partner that respects and supports the entire process, not just their piece of the pie.”
Just like your how body’s connective tissue supports and protects you, having the support your business needs is critical to ensuring product development success and avoiding unpredictable challenges. Assistance from your chemical supplier should be available throughout the product development process. It pays to have a helping hand guiding you at all touchpoints, including sourcing and procurement of ingredients, management of regulations, supervision of international shipping logistics, and domestic warehousing. You should identify a customer-centric, global chemical supplier and virtual manufacturer with a vested interest in your success that also maintains a track record of providing access to secure supply chains fortified by regulatory and compliance expertise. All aspects of the process should function in unison, keeping your project on track, on budget, and on time. Just like your connective tissue keeps you together and standing upright, fine chemical sourcing partners pull all supply components together to ensure your personal success.