Gatekeeper - Approval Workflow Software
Gatekeeper is the most elegant materials screening workflow-enabling tool on the market. Any Six Sigma initiative that includes Gatekeeper software will reduce cost, improve control processes, and rationalize materials management towards a more sustainable product line. One well-known global manufacturer reduced their new material approval process time by 75% — the case study is available to you.
Areas of improvement using this material approval workflow software include four aspects:
1. Secure request management: The material approval process begins with a simple material request. It seems so benign, "I would like to order new raw materials X, Y and Z." What could possibly be so complicated? Alas. The request has to be routed past many approvers in so many unique departments — including Legal, EHS, Engineering and more. It can take weeks, sometimes longer.
2. Approved materials / lean operations: Request management software from Actio for new material communication handles and automates the approved materials work-flow process. Automation brings lean operations into the mix, and can have positive affects on operations costs, morale, inventory management, CSR initiatives, as well as in regards to compliance with Green Chemistry ideas which suggest very particular parameters around new materials. The central idea is that permissioned stakeholders can all log in and see the same chemical data, securely, and updated live.
Gatekeeper brings material request management to a new level. The new material software checks first for approvals for new materials in-house, to save time and effort in the event that it has been used or approved before.
Gatekeeper then screens against current regulations and standards around the world that might affect new raw materials, or new chemicals or mixtures, taking into account the approved materials and mixtures already onsite - both at the requesting facility as well as at another location. Safety first! With Gatekeeper, companies eliminate duplicate, risky, unsafe or environmentally unsound purchases -- while:
- speeding up the new material approvals process
- leaning operations
- providing a platform for communicating with colleagues about new materials
- pursuing manufacturing ideals such as greener chemistry
3. New chemicals and materials purchase process: When manufacturing managers want to purchase new chemicals or new materials, they need a secure request management workflow tool.
The Actio system streamlines all this information -- chemical, parts, substance and/or material purchase -- with a safe automated workflow environment that manages, filters, and tracks -- from request to receipt -- new materials requested. By managing the requests and approvals for raw materials and chemicals, the software system mitigates risk and brings leaner operations, quality improvements, and process efficiencies to the approved-materials cycle.
“In business, some process improvements are obvious,” says Russell McCann, national speaker on Six Sigma and President and CEO of Actio Corporation. “For instance, if a scientist is creating a new product, and the product contains a chemical that is banned or is restricted in some countries, then it’s best to identify the issues at the request stage. This averts a scenario where the enterprise spends millions of dollars developing an unusable product."
4. Greener chemistry and safer products: This means companies must make greener products by avoiding certain new chemicals and using safer substitutions. Green Chemistry starts in the materials procurement process. "What product ingredients are you ordering? What do you have already? How will they mix?" The right software helps manage how environmental initiatives and regulations like California Green Chemistry, REACH, RoHS and others affect the materials you order, approve, and purchase.
New Material Request Management Challenge
New global regulations, such as REACH and RoHS in Europe, as well as domestic initiatives such as California Green Chemistry, are adding to the complexities of international commerce and impact every manufacturer wanting to transport or sell products in those markets.
Each regulation has its own set of restrictions and is designed to control the use of certain substances in products used within those markets. Compliance requires manufacturers to be familiar with the regulatory requirements within each region, as well as to know the ingredients – down to the substance level – used in their products.
Failure to comply with these regulations means manufacturers must forgo selling into those particular markets – forfeiting the potential for millions of dollars in revenue.
In addition to compliance mandates, progressive manufacturers must take a proactive approach to knowing what chemicals reside in their raw materials and the implications of their use. This critical knowledge enables companies to take necessary measures to mitigate risk of brand damage and costs associated with product liability resulting from toxic substances found in products.
Given this more stringent global regulatory landscape, introducing new products or product formulations is becoming more and more complex for manufacturers and requires a cross section of enterprise stakeholders to conduct an enormous amount of due diligence before bringing new chemicals/materials on site for research and development or manufacturing use. For example:
- Safety and Hygiene will need the toxicity and personal protection requirements of the material.
- Environmental and Risk Management will want to ensure the substances within raw materials requested pass global regulatory hurdles and support corporate sustainability objectives.
- Materials Engineering will need to know component information for compatibility with existing and future materials planned for manufacturing.
Without best practices and technology assistance to control and manage the acquisition of new chemicals enterprise wide, companies risk the high costs associated with process inefficiencies, as well as uninformed decisions that may cause revenue loss from product delays or non-compliance, or worse, brand damage caused by product recalls.
Existing materials procurement processes and workflow systems used to manage material requests are, many times, unique to each plant facility and are often paper-based, labor intensive, and slow. These are not often current enough to manage green chemistry or render it possible.
New Material Request Management Solution
Actio Gatekeeper is an online material request and approval system that brings process efficiencies and enterprise control of new materials brought on site. Gatekeeper creates a workflow environment that manages and tracks new material requests from pre-screening and approval to purchase and receipt of inventory.
Ideal for automating and managing Six Sigma initiatives or REACH compliance, Gatekeeper keeps the acquisition of materials controlled, accountable and trackable. Chemical requests made throughout the enterprise are automatically pre-screened to identify whether any substances contained in the requested material are hazardous, a carcinogen, a REACH restricted substance, a hazardous air pollutant, contains ingredients that require reporting, or are banned all together from the facility.
With access to the platform’s centralized database of substance-level material data and a library of more than 150 international, federal, state and local regulatory lists, including any enterprise-specific lists of banned or restricted substances, Gatekeeper can automatically compare the requested material, as well as the material’s ingredients, to the regulatory list library. As a result of this automated data crunching, Gatekeeper can:
- Verify international, federal, state and local hazard/regulatory issues
- Determine specific health, safety and storage requirements
- Insure corporate sustainability objectives, like HAP/VOC reduction, are met
If the request passes the pre-screening criteria, Gatekeeper automatically routes the request through a predefined approval process until the chemical is purchased. If more research is required by a scientist or approver in the process prior to purchase, Gatekeeper facilitates communication with the supply chain through Material Disclosure where an email request can be made to a supplier asking for key information about the components of a raw material. The supplier is directed to an online form to input this information in the secure, online portal. Once collected, this information can then be used to further evaluate whether the material meets corporate objectives.
Without best practices, a singular and relatively simple work-flow approval system, lean operations, and request management assistance to control and manage the acquisition of new chemicals enterprise-wide, companies avoid the high cost of process inefficiencies, as well as uninformed decisions in materials procurement that can cause revenue loss from:
- product delays
- brand damage caused by product recalls
Further, Gatekeeper can be integrated with ERP systems, like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics and portal systems like SharePoint, driving the integration of the request function to the approval and purchase of a material. This integration removes purchasing bottlenecks, provides significantly better new chemical data management, and reduces the subsequent handling costs of the new material when it arrives on site. Supply chain integration can be configured with existing ERP systems, supplier networks, or supplier links can be embedded in Gatekeeper.
- Facilitates lean manufacturing and lean operations by streamlining chemical/material research and approval processes
- Facilitates green chemistry and greener manufacturing by reducing the number and volume of hazardous chemicals and toxic substances used across geographically-dispersed facilities and curtails procurement of unwanted products
- Protects revenues by reducing the likelihood and cost of product delays and recalls
- Tighter controls with chemical inventory reduces risk and corporate liability
- Provides leaner operations and Six Sigma metrics making the acquisition of materials controlled, accountable and trackable
- Delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) -- which means no hardware or software to purchase and maintain, quick time-to-benefit, and low total cost of ownership: welcome to the cloud.
To find out more, contact us today.