18 December 2018

Optimising logistics in the chemicals sector  

If you had to pick the most challenging sector when it comes to logistics, there’s a high chance you would choose the chemicals industry. The transportation and delivery of both packaged and bulk chemicals presents unique, complex and high-risk challenges that must be overcome to ensure success.  

The sector is highly regulated and there are many raw materials and manufactured products that need to be handled in specific ways. And of course, products are high-risk because they can be corrosive, volatile, hazardous and expensive to move.  

Logistics are a key aspect of the chemical industry as production and consumption locations are mostly separated. Efficient, competitive and sustainable logistics are therefore of great importance for future development.  

Delivery is crucial. In order to be successful, delivery options must be agile, flexible and adjustable and as such, provide opportunities to respond to market changes quickly and effectively.  

The state of play  

According to the most recent report by the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), world chemicals turnover was valued at €3,360 billion in 2016, representing a 0.4% increase on 2015.   With 15.1%, the EU chemical industry is second only to China in sales, and when including both European Union and non-EU countries in Europe total sales reached €597bn in 2016, or 17.8% of all sales.  

But there are several other pressing concerns and trends to bear in mind with this continued growth. For example  

  • Longer supply chains due to geographical concentration of facilities
  • More congestion due to a lack of investment in infrastructure         
  • An increasing focus on safety and security, sustainability and reducing emissions.  

The question is, how can transport and delivery contribute positively to the bottom line rather than add additional costs?  

Many reports suggest that the logistics function in a large chemical manufacturer or distributor is regarded as a potential headache and a costly endeavour rather than an opportunity to add value and leverage competitive advantage.  

It could be that an event that has safety or reputational repercussions will immediately turn businesses’ attention to logistics. It may not have been regarded as a priority or even been on their radar beforehand. But if this has been their approach, they are missing a real opportunity.  

The truth is that chemical companies can improve their financial success and return on investment by enhancing their supply chain and logistics capability. The latest technology, implemented correctly, is the best way to tackle the complexity, volatility and potential disruptions that today’s chemical industry will experience.  

A new solution  

Optimising logistics in the chemicals industry requires an all-round solution that offers a comprehensive suite of front-end application software, back-end optimisation software and middleware for efficient task management and tracking.  

TouchStar’s logistics optimisation solution provides a portfolio of components including navigation, job allocation and driver communication.   The core solution includes:  

Front-end Vehicle-based Application Software

Developed in conjunction with some of the bulk logistics industry giants, our front-end software facilitates a live connection between drivers, transport staff, accounts teams and customers. Sharing live data regarding vehicle position, on-board stock, delivery volumes and pricing, enables both better operational decision making and a reduction in administration.   


Handling the interchange of information in an efficient and timely manner, TouchStar’s middleware product provides the link between front-end vehicle-based applications and Back Office Systems. The cloud-based middleware environment integrates additional functionality from a number of sources, enhancing and consolidating all applications in one convenient location.  

Mobile Computing Hardware

Our hardware solutions are device-agnostic enabling you to select the best device for your individual business processes. The range of ‘form factors’ which we can offer our clients is comprehensive and includes handheld and tablet devices. More specifically we have the ability to interface with any current operating system from Windows, Android or iOS. Many of our devices conform to ATEX specification, making them a natural choice for operation within hazardous chemical environments.  

Logistics Optimisation Software

The system has been developed as a scalable electronic proof of delivery (EPOD) and logistics optimisation solution for any size of chemical business. Whether you have several vehicles or thousands, the system will ensure you optimise your work scheduling, reduce fuel costs and improve customer service levels without adding extra complexity.  

Additional options are also available, including vehicle systems integration to combine core technologies such as GPS tracking, engine diagnostic reporting, meter and sensor interfacing, RFID and more to ensure critical data is captured on vehicle location and operation. TouchStar’s solution is also able to successfully integrate with leading back-end software packages such as Navision and SAP.  

TouchStar can deliver a fully scalable and futureproof solution that meets both operational and strategic objectives.   To find out more, contact the TouchStar team now or call +44 (0) 161 874 5050.

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