Specialty Chemicals | Blog

Blog Series: Production scheduling as a competitive advantage

Driving customer satisfaction through agility.

January 24, 2017 by Edgar Aquino / 0 Comment
Edgar Aquino

The New Customer Service Paradigm – Robots, Processes, and Technology

Achieving a high customer service rating is one, if not, the most important business metric for any company. Consider powerhouse Amazon that is pioneering technology to consistently be ranked #1 in customer service with ‘less than 2% of survey respondents reporting a poor experience, and 59.4% reporting excellent customer service.’ Let those statistics sink in.

How is Amazon achieving these high ratings? During the holiday season, Amazon experiences a 600% increase in orders, and in 2015, they hired 100,000 seasonal workers (up 25% from 2014). Compare those numbers to the seasonal workers that Amazon’s competitors Target (70,000), Macy’s (85,000), and Walmart (60,000) hired during the same time period. Amazon even went so far as to acquire Kiva, a maker of robots that automate the picking and packing process at large warehouses, for $775 million. Today, Amazon uses about 30,000 robots which have reduced operating expenses by 20% while achieving even higher order fulfillment rates. Amazon clearly believes in the importance of keeping customers happy and has invested millions of dollars to achieve this.

Short of robots, what can specialty chemical producers learn from this example? For starters, the business performance of specialty chemical producers is also heavily influenced by their  customer service metrics, but there’s significantly more money involved in every transaction. A finalized batch of specialty chemicals can cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce, and sells for even more. Their customers are paying for premium, high-value products, and they expect them to be delivered at the agreed time and place and to perform consistently within specifications. Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong! Specialty chemical producers must navigate through a dizzying array of daily decisions when identifying which products to make, and then determining where, when, and how to produce them across a complicated network of manufacturing assets – all in a limited amount of time. In a world where there is constant pressure from customers to reduce order lead times and provide consistent on-time order fulfillment, the effectiveness of production planning and scheduling decisions is a large determinant of customer service performance.  Given how much is at stake for specialty chemical producers, why do so many rely on outdated, spreadsheet-based tools to support these highly complex and impactful decisions?  If Amazon can see that using robots to automate the picking and packing process helps scale up business, reduce costs, and keep customers happy, then why aren’t specialty chemical producers adopting advanced solutions to facilitate more effective production planning and scheduling? Specialty chemical producers need proven solutions that are tailored to their industry in order to redefine production planning and scheduling and improve customer service performance. 

To learn more about how advanced supply chain solutions can enable specialty chemical producers to improve customer service through more effective production planning and scheduling, please download our latest whitepaper entitled “Profitability Through Supply Chain Excellence:  A Technology Insight for Specialty Chemicals Producers”.


  • Eric Kaufman
    November 18, 2016 by Eric Kaufman / 0 Comment

    Navigating Complexity: Problem or Opportunity?

    Companies are grappling with an ever increasing array of decisions, and in many instances are attempting to apply processes, methods, and tools that were developed in a bygone era of lower complexity. Their inability to cope with complexity is resulting in more unforeseen consequences, higher costs, and lost opportunities.