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Gerardo Franchini asks how the pharmaceutical and chemicals industries can best use technology to address their key business challenges.

Two of the most highly regulated industries, the chemicals and pharmaceutical sectors face a whole host of challenges each and every day. With margins squeezed tighter than ever before, the pressure to do more but with less, remaining productive, innovative and competitive, all while complying with an ever-increasing list of requirements and regulations against a back-drop of socio-political uncertainty, means that for many businesses operating in these two industries, times have never been so tough.

In light of these pressures, chemicals and pharmaceutical businesses are seeking ways to work smarter and more efficiently, with many looking to technology for help. To find the right solution, businesses first need to identify where they are lacking and, for the vast majority of organisations, this exercise usually highlights the same five key challenges: formulation management, production management, quality control, batch traceability and, underpinning everything, reporting. Whereas in the past businesses would have turned to individual, process-specific software solutions to try to meet these challenges, the availability of comprehensive, industry-specific solutions, designed to meet the particular needs of the chemicals and pharmaceutical sectors, provides the functionality required to manage multiple business challenges with an integrated ERP solution.

Formulation management

With advanced formulation management built-in, the best solutions help to streamline this particularly complex part of a chemicals or pharmaceutical business. Enabling the scalability of formulas, providing the granular level of detail required to make formula adjustments, no matter how minor, the right system will then automatically communicate these changes to inventory, production and planning, for ultimate efficiency and accuracy. Everything is accessible with a full audit trail, documenting batch formulae, the technical compositions of various product components and ingredients, as well as the manufacturing process itself. This increased automation and the instant updates also provide the ability to automatically produce ingredients listings, declaration statements and product labels with guaranteed precision. Ultimately, the right solution enables you to produce process-oriented formulae with defined routing, increasing the efficiency, flexibility and accuracy of your operations.

Production management

When it comes to production management, the intuitive solutions on the market today can comprehensively manage your entire production process. Again, with increased automation a fundamental method of achieving real efficiency savings, advanced production management functionality increases efficiencies across a pharmaceutical or chemicals business through the creation of process-oriented bills of materials, with a Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) module responsible for the intelligent and responsive reordering of stock as well as informing accurate forecasting. Powerful scheduling capability automatically manages manufacturing orders, with the option to sort the production schedule by product, resources, brand and allergies (where relevant). Ultimately, the right solution can optimise production, minimise downtime and maximise revenue.

Quality control

Definitely not an area to be ignored for the pharmaceutical and chemicals sector, the issue of quality control looms large over both industries. The right ERP solution can manage the entire quality process from goods-in through to customer delivery, demonstrating an overwhelming commitment to quality control by way of an audit trail of accurate, repeatable quality control processes and procedures. For such highly regulated industries, the presence of built-in licensing restrictions and quality parameters to ensure compliance to COSHH, COMAH, FDA, GxP and ISO, to name but a few, addresses yet another challenge faced by chemicals and pharmaceutical organisations, with all information feeding in to a central document repository for guaranteed accuracy of individual product safety data sheets and compliance records. Automated alerts can communicate to inspectors when quality checks and tests need to be carried out, as well as defining the necessary resources required to perform the tests (microscopes, scales, safety glasses etc). In short, the most advanced solutions reduce reliance on time-consuming and error-prone manual processes, guaranteeing quality control best practice as well as optimum business efficiency.

Batch traceability

Another pressing challenge that chemicals and pharmaceutical businesses have to meet head-on is batch traceability, with the ability to carry out 360° batch control and traceability to track genealogy of all products, ingredients and components through to the product reaching its final destination, a must-have. With the right systems in place, businesses can easily track multiple levels of each lot of raw materials, backwards and forwards through the supply chain, to facilitate quick, efficient product recalls if need be. With batch data control in place, you can instantly view what batch went where, who it was sold to, who it was bought from, enabling you to better manage all traceability transactions, as well as providing enhanced visibility over all documentation throughout the production process. With this increased level of control comes increased efficiency, not to mention a method of mitigating against costly and potentially damaging product recalls and problems.


Underpinning all of these advanced capabilities is the reporting functionality that comprehensive, business-wide systems provide. With the ability to create accessible, accurate and timely reports, the right system ensures you have the right information, in the right format, at the right time. Be it traceability, quality control, formulation management or production management, having access to detailed, insightful reports providing the key data on all of these areas is what leads to enhanced business clarity, ensuring your decisions are always based on timely and accurate business information. For pharmaceutical and chemicals businesses faced with a daily onslaught of market challenges, it’s this unfettered access to crucial business data that can make all the difference, guaranteeing robust, rapid decision-making for that all-important business agility and flexibility.

The comprehensive functionality provided by modern solutions for the pharmaceutical and chemicals sectors enables businesses to move away from manual processes, simplifying operations while ensuring compliance. Facilitating best practice across the board, the right solution manages and controls all relevant business processes while providing the insight and the foresight needed to tackle the various challenges that both industries face each and every day, continually developing the business while maintaining that all-important lead on the competition.

For more information on how Sapphire can help your pharmaceutical or chemicals business, contact us now.

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