HAZMAT inventory can create a variety of challenges for supply chain businesses handling and storing them. First, these businesses must understand what classifies as a hazardous material. The Hazard Communication Program at Florida State University developed a classification system for use in identifying HAZMAT items. These materials can fall into one or more of the identified categories. The HAZMAT categories include: flammable liquids, combustible liquids, flammable solids, oxidizers, corrosives, organic peroxides, poisons, compressed gases, cryogenics, radioactive items and biomedicals. Being able to identify these categories will assist in material segregation and help supply chain operators create effective standards for the proper and safe handling/storage of these items. The nature of the HAZMAT supply chain is much more dangerous than that of the typical supply chain, but they encounter many of the same challenges. Some of the top challenges encountered include material segregation, damage prevention, cleanup response and protocol, storage and retrieval equipment, and documentation management.

Material segregation is a critical business function for HAZMAT operations because of strict product mixing regulations set by governing bodies such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). If these regulatory requirements are not adhered to it can put facility staff in danger and result in significant financial loss. Damage prevention is also critical as damaged inventory can cause widespread inventory loss. This challenge often is a result of both inadequate people and process management. Cleanup and response is often a derivative of this as well. Staff is often under-trained on response methods which puts everyone in danger. Obtaining the proper storage and retrieval equipment is often a challenge encountered by HAZMAT supply chain operations as well. Specific equipment is required to handle industrial barrels and other packaging types and many facilities assume their existing equipment will be sufficient. Documentation management, also closely regulated by governing bodies, must be properly managed to maintain accurate inventory records in case of product recalls.

Many HAZMAT supply chain operators and their IT counterparts are turning to SCM technologies such as warehouse management software and automated data collection devices such as barcode scanners and mobile computers to assist in effectively managing staff, processes and accurate data collection. To learn more about how HAZMAT operations are using technology to improve their operations contact industry experts today at www.datexcorp.com or marketing@datexcorp.com or call 800.933.2839 ext. 243.

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