Ease REACH Compliance

Effective documentation management is key.

By Brian Everett, itelligence

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Because the chemical industry constantly changes based on the demands of other industries, the need for particular substances ebbs and flows. As a result, a given organization at any given time might have a wide array of substances in any number of stages in the REACH registration process. To avoid confusion, automated systems provide enterprise-wide vision into the product portfolio. Users can see at a glance the status of registered chemicals, submitted documents and ECHA approvals. Automated reports on a given substance's business relevance (based on volume, revenue, classification, composition, etc.) allow companies to quickly vet chemicals for registration, without investing an inordinate amount of time in substances that don't require ECHA attention.

The dynamic nature of the chemical industry also underscores the importance of adaptability in software solutions. Accommodating current REACH registration needs is a given but flexibility to adjust to changing demands is essential, too.

REACH registration requirements center on production levels, which makes substance volume tracking essential. Using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, sales personnel can check substance volume before creating new sales orders. After warehouse workers create corresponding deliveries, system administrators can monitor updated product volumes. This allows companies to discern which substances require REACH registration based on tonnage and also provides long-term oversight for volume tracking. The key to monitoring volume and controlling threshold limits is the ability to observe and then document volume fluctuations in real time.

Companies can optimize their documentation-management systems so that when a given chemical ships to a customer the relevant documentation is automatically sourced and sent with the shipment. These forms can physically accompany shipping orders or arrive electronically, without the need for manual generation. An output can be created within the system to automatically send the forms via hard copy, fax, email or other means, based on customer preferences.

Automated solutions also help integrate new substances into the product lifecycle. Users can engage the documentation-management system to ensure accurate reporting of product development while managers and shippers can oversee the logging of all pertinent logistics information. By providing a single centralized source of information, the system help manage ever-changing product portfolios. Users can efficiently locate substances and generate relevant up-to-date documentation.

Centralization establishes a "single truth." Regardless of their geographic locations, all authorized users access the same documented information. Among its other benefits, this single truth enables users to confidently pull data for various needs, not just REACH-related ones. Because of the universal availability of information, controlled access plays a dominant role in documentation management. Individuals or even whole departments can be given editing privileges while others are restricted to read-only access.

Supply-Chain Communication
The influence of REACH extends beyond how individual organizations structure internal data. To ensure successful registration, companies must directly involve their supply-chain partners. During the pre-registration phase, the sales department contributes to the REACH process flow by requesting via questionnaires use-and-exposure information from customers. Processed customer responses make their way to production staff, who use the information to re-evaluate use and exposure.

A similar process exists for upstream supply-chain communication. The purchasing department sends questionnaires to suppliers, requesting information on the registration status of chemicals bought. Equipped with supplier responses, production personnel can recheck the actual status of use-coverage.

The dissemination and retrieval of questionnaires fits within the larger process of material management. These specific instances of upstream and downstream supply-chain communications allow companies to evaluate customer material-information records and create new customer specifications for salable products while similarly evaluating supplier records for purchased products.

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