If you work with chemicals, you absolutely want to make sure that you're handling them safely and correctly. How could Conqord Oil keep its teams up-to-date with the latest safety guidelines?
Working with IBM Business Partner IDM Consulting, Conqord Oil built a new digital platform that is helping it improve the way teams access and manage safety card data.
Up to 70%faster access to information helps staff work more productively
Helpsto mitigate risk by providing accurate, up-to-date chemical handling information
Mobile accessto up-to-the-minute information
Business challenge story
Fueling success in a niche market
Taking your business in a new direction can be thrilling and terrifying at the same time. New markets open up valuable opportunities for growth, but they also bring risks and competition. This was precisely the situation facing Conqord Oil, part of Kuwait Petroleum International Group, when it decided to build on its successful lubricants business by introducing a new metalworking fluids line.
Roberto Raggi, IT Manager at Conqord Oil, explains: “We realized that the metals manufacturing market is a strategic niche market for Conqord Oil. The metals industry relies on a range of fluids and emulsions, and Conqord Oil is highly specialized in developing these kinds of products. However, when we entered this niche market, we knew that we would need to compete against global players that had been operating in the sector for years, and that we would encounter a whole new set of rules and regulations related to the handling of chemical materials.”
For Conqord Oil to succeed in its new venture, the company needed to adjust and comply with new standards in terms of production, safety and quality of chemical materials.
“To produce metalworking fluids, we work with many different chemicals, some of which can be highly volatile," explains Roberto Raggi. "This makes it essential for us to ensure that all chemicals are handled with the utmost care. The processes we use are based on a concept called ‘International Chemical Safety Cards’. These are documents of about 15 to 20 pages, which contain information and guidelines on the proper handling of each specific chemical, and employees must consult them each time they come into contact with chemical materials."
With more than 1,000 different chemicals in use, Conqord Oil was challenged to update each safety card rapidly and accurately.
Roberto Raggi confirms: “Important information connected with the potentially dangerous elements of chemical materials changes on a daily basis. For example, today our employees might not need to use safety equipment to handle a certain material, but this guidance could change tomorrow. We relied on largely manual methods to make the required updates, so it took considerable time and effort to complete this process.”
To efficiently manage updates to hundreds of chemical safety cards each day and reduce operational risk, Conqord Oil sought to eliminate paper-based operations, cut potential errors and save time.
Automating and digitizing safety card processes
As a long-term IBM client, Conqord Oil turned to IBM to find a solution to its challenges. Giulio Carlomagno, Electronic Data Processing Manager at Conqord Oil, states: “We have a 40-year relationship with IBM, so approaching them came almost as second nature to us. IBM recommended its Business Partner, IDM Consulting S.r.l., who demonstrated great skills and had previous experience in our sector. Another plus was their close vicinity to our headquarters, which meant that their team was always at hand throughout the implementation.”
Working with IBM and IDM Consulting, Conqord Oil introduced a new digital platform for managing safety card information, built on IBM Enterprise Content Management solutions.
As a first step, Conqord Oil used IBM® Datacap to automatically extract and index key data from each safety card, making the information readily available to be accessed and modified by staff. This has made a striking improvement to the way that Conqord Oil works with these documents, as Giulio Carlomagno observes: “Before, we used to keep safety cards as a series of PDF files or scanned documents. We also manually added metadata to each document and uploaded it to a very basic type of database, but employees still had to consult the scanned documents to get the information they needed.
“Now, the safety cards and relevant metadata are entirely digitized, and access to the cards is so much easier and faster, as well as being secure.”
Additionally, Conqord Oil takes advantage of the case management capabilities in IBM Business Automation Workflow to develop automatic alerts – for example when a safety card is about to expire – and to put in place new processes, such as specific lab procedures that are required whenever sensitive information within a safety card has changed.
In parallel, Conqord Oil uses the mobile case management capabilities in IBM Business Automation Workflow to handle its order management process, enabling staff to request and authorize approvals via mobile devices. Because the company’s technical and commercial staff often work from the field, providing mobile capabilities to accelerate the authorization workflow was crucial.
Giulio Carlomagno confirms: “With IBM Business Automation Workflow , employees can submit authorization requests and immediately receive either a positive or a negative answer, which will then trigger the following stages of the approval process. The mobile capabilities allow us to process new orders in a timelier manner, enabling a faster response to our clients.
“We started testing the mobile solution with a very small number of users, but given the excellent feedback received we are now planning to extend it to over 250 members of our staff as well as our partners."
Ensuring safe chemical handlingWith its new content management platform in place, expertly deployed with assistance from IDM Consulting, Conqord Oil is now well on its way to offer even-better protection to those employees who handle chemicals daily.
Giulio Carlomagno remarks: “Being able to manage the crucial updates that are applied to hundreds of chemical safety cards every day in such a precise, rapid and efficient manner is invaluable to us. With the IBM solutions, we have gained time savings of up to 70 percent when accessing and checking the cards.
"Even more importantly, as we can now update safety card information in a highly automated and controlled way, we have reduced the risk of errors or oversights occurring during this process. As a result, we have more confidence that staff are properly informed of the latest precautions that they need to take when handling chemicals. This helps employees understand the risks when they are in contact with chemical materials, and contributes to workplace safety.”
Impressed by the success of the implementation, Conqord Oil has further plans with the solution—for example, the company is looking forward to harnessing the power of its new enterprise content management tools to digitize contracts and invoices.
Giulio Carlomagno states: “This project has transformed our ways of working, and our staff have truly embraced the new approach. We are confident that this positive sentiment will only continue to grow as we continue to expand our enterprise content management platform.”
He concludes: “With IBM solutions backing up our business processes, we believe that we will continue to grow in the metals manufacturing market, while maintaining our excellent health and safety record and helping to protect our employees from risks in the workplace.”
Headquartered near Alessandria, Italy, Conqord Oil specializes in developing, producing and distributing automotive and industrial lubricants both in Italy and worldwide. Part of Kuwait Petroleum International Group, Conqord Oil employs approximately 130 people and operates one production plant in Italy as well as research labs in Italy and in Holland.
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Take the next step
IDM Consulting S.r.l., an IBM Gold Business Partner, is a company specialized in delivering customized solutions aimed at optimizing the management of business processes to the benefit of cost reduction. In fact, the consolidated experience of over 10 years allows IDM Consulting to offer intelligent content collaboration systems capable of ensuring security, reliability and innovation. For more information on IDM Consulting, please visit: idmconsulting.it
To learn more about IBM ECM solutions, please read our eBook: ibm.biz/BdrsAs