Distributors Can Emerge Stronger and Smarter with Tank Monitoring
By Carolina Ruiz • Published February 15, 2022 • 4 minute read
Chemical distributors have been through a whirlwind of disruptive change in the last two years. The Covid pandemic unleashed a torrent of forces that were soon overshadowed by more serious challenges in 2021.
Last February, petrochemical manufacturing in the Gulf Coast was disrupted by a freezing storm and then in the summer and fall by hurricanes. Western forest fires and backlogged marine ports also contributed to supply chain disruptions.
Through it all, distributors have been trying to find ways to do more with less.
In the December 2021 issue of Chemical Distributor, a quarterly magazine from the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD), a series of articles cover the state of the industry from different angles and perspectives.
Another useful resource is the 2021 State of the Chemical Industry Report from a survey in late 2020 with more than 200 industry professionals. The survey was developed by ERP software provider Datacor in partnership with NACD.
Based on these two industry resources, here are a few areas where distributors have been placing their bets to emerge stronger in 2022:
● Updating technology. From the onset of the pandemic, distributors became more dependent on technology to complete tasks when remote working became the norm.
● Boosting operational efficiency. Technology investments were needed to address labor and capacity shortages that have reached a tipping point.
● Expanding product lines. Demand is at record levels for chemicals of all types and is giving distributors new growth opportunities.
● Understanding customer needs. Lead times for products have been sporadic. Distributors are investing in new technology to better forecast and meet customer demand.
The Chemical Distributor magazine quotes industry experts who predict energy shortages and high prices will remain in the foreseeable future due to oil and gas companies limiting investments in carbon feed stocks. Companies are under pressure from investors to slash emissions and prepare for government policies that are shifting towards net-zero emissions.
Increased labor costs and staffing shortages will be another ongoing challenge. Experts are expecting an increase in automation and remote monitoring to lessen the reliance on traditional labor.
Experts also expect a greater emphasis in the industry on environmental solutions, such as technologies to detect and help prevent chemical leaks and spills.
Remote tank monitoring systems are one of several technologies that chemical distributors are using to meet the challenges head on. The systems not only provide real-time visibility of tank levels but also track product temperatures and other critical details.
More importantly, distributors that use tank monitoring systems are better able to predict customer needs, manage lead times, and communicate about the status of their orders and deliveries every step of the way.
Distributors can also use the technology to share visibility with customers automatically by enabling access to data on the fly, from any device. Maximizing customer service does not have to come at the expense of business profitability, however.
SkyBitz, an industrial IoT telematics solutions provider, has a software-as-a-service platform that combines real-time tank monitoring with a full suite of workflow automation tools for distributors to optimize delivery efficiencies.
The solution, SkyBitz SmartTank Dispatch, uses the SkyBitz SmartTank portal that has real-time wireless connectivity to highly accurate tank monitoring sensors in the field. The portal gives users key indicators and market insights, along with a visual snapshot of critical information such as low-level tanks.
With the SmartTank Dispatch platform, distributors can utilize accurate demand forecasts to automatically generate orders for customers and optimize delivery scheduling and route planning to maximize profitability and customer service.
After surviving a whirlwind adventure, chemical distributors have emerged stronger and better prepared for new challenges. The ability to do more with less holds the key to success.
Contact SkyBitz today to learn more about gaining efficiency and productivity advantages from an integrated tank monitoring and dispatching solution.