A chemical inventory system is typically deemed successful if it clearly labels substances, provides accurate availability, and connects to procurement information. But many ‘good inventory systems’ leave R&D departments frustrated and hinder efficient innovation.
The chemical name or CAS Registry Number® that identifies a 55-gallon drum may be enough information to serve procurement needs, but additional information is often required to support R&D teams. The complexities of substance identification may not be understood if those configuring the software lack a scientific background.
For example, consider the raw material, xylene [CAS RN 1330-20-7] or dimethylbenzene, an aromatic solvent with applications in the oil, gas, rubber, paints, coatings, and adhesives industries. Commercial xylene is commonly sold as a mixture of two or more isomers: o-xylene [CAS RN 95-47-6], m-xylene [CAS RN 108-38-3], and p-xylene [CAS RN 106-42-3], as well as ethylbenzene [CAS RN 100-41-4]. The para isomer, p-xylene, is specifically used in the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used in packaging for foods, beverages, cleaning supplies, and cosmetics. Recording components in the inventory help maintain transparency in the supply chain for reporting purposes.
Centralizing your business’ chemical inventory system often reveals financial benefits to the organization, such as:
- R&D teams can develop new products efficiently with direct knowledge of in-house chemical substance availability
- Engineering teams can gain efficiencies in process planning
- Procurement teams can reduce wasteful spending
- Product stewards can ensure that your organization operates within regulatory compliance
How well are you arming your R&D teams? CAS helps leading organizations worldwide better utilize scientific information to accelerate innovation. Here are some tips to ensure you are providing an inventory system that fully supports R&D:
Tip 1: Identify components
Many raw material products are sold as mixtures. It would be taxing for any scientist to keep up with them all and they are unable to search and find information that is not captured in the system. To ensure scientists can quickly and easily find the compounds they are seeking, mixtures in inventory should also have any components identified. For example, xylene should also be tagged with its components, such as p-xylene. This will allow you to accurately track the identity and amount of each component in the mixture.
Tip 2: Use chemical structures
Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, a chemical structure represents many trivial names. Even p-xylene has a few, e.g., 1,4-dimethylbenzene, p-xylol, and 4-methyltoluene. Scientists think in terms of chemical structures and may prefer to look for substances using a chemical structure search rather than a chemical name. Combining your substance identity data with chemical structure representation, such as molfile, InChI, and/or SMILE, will make it easier for them to find what they are looking for in your inventory. Providing a structure image, such as an SVG, allows results to be validated.
Tip 3: Organize substance identities under CAS Registry Numbers (CAS RNs)
Chemical compounds are described in many ways, including chemical structures, molecular formulas, and a variety of naming conventions. This causes errors, confusion, and even safety concerns. As the authority for accurate chemical substance identification, CAS RNs serve as a unique identifier for substances.
Organizing your inventory by CAS RNs enables clear identification, easy validation, and worldwide recognition. R&D teams also rely on CAS RNs to connect with current data and research about the substance. Building CAS RNs into your inventory framework boosts efficiency and accuracy across the R&D workflow.
Tip 4: For projects big or small - you don’t have to go it alone
CAS has been a trusted provider of high-quality scientific information for over 100 years. We offer several services that can help identify and validate substance information within your company’s chemical inventory. Our CAS Registry ServicesSM can help you obtain a CA Index Name and/or CAS Registry Number for a particular substance or augment substances in your inventory with additional information.
Need help building an inventory system that will serve the needs of everyone in your organization? Our team can help you plan and establish a system that empowers efficient innovation through our Knowledge Management Services.
Reach out to get the conversation started.