Chemical manufacturers are facing an array of operational and business challenges


With governments and consumers demanding safer and more environmentally sustainable products, and overseas competition increasing, manufacturers must find innovative solutions that stimulate process and commercial optimization.

The goal for any manufacturer is optimization of all its resources. This means minimizing inputs while maximizing outputs and enhancing every process and every employee to create an operationally efficient business.

The adoption of standards has long been recognized as an effective method for business improvement. Certification to a standard demonstrates the attainment of a level of proficiency. In recent years, many standards, such as ISO 9001, have even begun to build continuous development into their frameworks, thereby promoting year-on-year improvements within the business.

In the age of ‘big data’, however, is relying on compliance with a standard the optimal way to achieve business enhancement? And, is there a better and more efficient way to utilize the data generated during compliance audits?


Standards are made up of multiple clauses and sub-clauses; each reflecting an individual facet of the business. Complying with every clause and sub-clause is the goal of any manufacturer trying to achieve operational optimization.

When auditors perform certification audits on facilities, they are looking for evidence that the specific requirements embedded within each clause is being met. If the evidence of compliance is available, the clause is marked as conforming. Non-conformities may, in themselves, not represent a current problem for the business but they do represent the potential for a future problem – a pain point. A complete list of conformities and non-conformities therefore becomes a thorough health check on the business.

With multiple standards being implemented in businesses, industries and countries around the world, the amount of data being generated in audits is enormous. The problem is, the sheer amount of data has also rendered traditional business analysis incapable of clearly analyzing non-conformities through a diagnostic approach and converting them into important pain points.


Chemical manufacturers employ a variety of standards, but the three most commonly used are:

  • ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management
  • FSSC 22000 – Food Safety Systems Certification
  • ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental Management


SGS has proprietary auditing data collected from over 5,900 chemical industry audits in the last two years, covering 3,500+ facilities in 60 global territories. This has generated a record of over 13,815 non-conformities exclusively relating to the chemical industry. Interrogating this anonymized data in combination with SGS’s technical experience and insights is therefore the perfect way to identify common pain points found in the chemical industry.

Using proprietary methodologies, SGS has analyzed the data from chemical manufacturing audits and identified the top three clauses within each standard that have the highest concentration of nonconformities raised.

They are:

  • ISO 9001:2015:

– 7.1 – Resources (people, infrastructure, operation environment, monitoring and measuring resources)

– 8.4 – Control of externally provided processes, products and services

– 9.2 – Internal audit

  • FSSC 22000:

– Prerequisite Programs 12 – Pest Control

– Prerequisite Programs 11 – Cleaning and Sanitizing

– ISO 22000: 4 – Food Safety Management System

  • ISO 14001:2015:

– 6.1 – Actions to address risks and opportunities

– 8.1 – Operation: operational planning and control

– 8.2 – Operations: emergency preparedness and response

Applying our segment expertise to the aggregated data findings, SGS has successfully identified key industry pain points reflected by the top nonconformities.

Common pain points are:

  • Suppliers not being effectively evaluated for performance
  • Difficulties in understanding standard requirements
  • Lack of consistency in communicating risk and procedures
  • Insufficient implementation and testing of emergency plans
  • Operators deviating from written procedures resulting in documentation issues
  • Preventative maintenance (including equipment calibration) not performed correctly
  • Internal audits not executed as planned


Knowledge, it is said, is power. Equipped with a clear picture of these standards, clauses and pain points, chemical manufacturers are ready to streamline and optimize their audit programs. If the goal is optimization, then one area that remains highly inefficient is the practice of individual audits.


Audits are time-consuming and disruptive for manufacturers. They deflect the attention away from running the business and onto proving compliance. Different certification standard requirements and checklists may partially overlap with each other, causing repeated labor and unnecessary cost if they were performed individually. SGS has now introduced its Single Audit Solution to streamline the auditing process. By combining certification and performance assessment services, SGS has created an efficient and cost-effective auditing solution that can work for operators in all industries.

SGS works with customers to assess their individual requirements, creating a bespoke package that satisfies all auditing requirements in a single auditing process. On average, the single audit solution reduces audit times by over 20%, meaning less disruption to business operations.

Challenged by increased global competition, greater regulatory controls, and growing business need for cost efficiency, chemical manufacturers need to find innovative solutions to prosper in today’s markets. By utilizing the single audit solution that effectively identifies pain points in operations and minimizes resources spent during audits, SGS has effectively created the tools the chemical industry needs to optimize its operations and meet the challenges ahead.



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