Proudly operating since 2001 in 60+ locations in North America and internationally, Chemtrade specializes in manufacturing Sulphur and Water Chemicals (SWC) and Electrochemical (EC) products, which make up their two business segments. Contributing to dozens of industries as varied and universal as water treatment, agriculture, pulp and paper, oil refining, food production, and more, Chemtrade’s high-demand product contributes to critical community needs.
Operating in the business of manufacturing specialty chemicals, it’s important for Chemtrade to ensure proper parameters are met on every railcar for product distribution to customers. Prior to 2018, Chemtrade relied heavily on paper-based pre- and post-loading checklists, which created a multitude of inefficiencies. Whether it was shipment disruptions due to missing placards on railcars when they arrived at the destination or the lack of visibility between pre- and post-loading checklists due to the nature of the paper documentation, Chemtrade knew there was room for improvement.
“Paper is convenient,” Avi Bahl, Corporate Reliability Manager at Chemtrade Logistics started to explain, “but if there is a case where you have to carry multiple pieces of paper and you lose even a single inspection form, then that convenience goes away.” For Chemtrade, it wasn’t the number of forms that seemed astronomical, it was the amount of collaborating team members on a specific form at different times and locations.
As a business that relies heavily on railcars for product distribution, there are specific requirements for proper distribution recorded on pre- and post-loading checklists. These checks are conducted by separate team members in separate locations and times. Before GoFormz, if the railcar arrived with a missing placard or seemed tampered with during transit, the customer on the receiving end would contact the Chemtrade technical representative. During that time, Chemtrade did not have any visual proof of the railcar condition when it left the Chemtrade facility, introducing the possibility of dissatisfied customers, lack of logistical visibility, and an inefficient means of documentation.
“The reality is the railcar is on the customer site and they do not have the placard to identify material in the railcar,” explained Bahl. It was clear to the Chemtrade team that they needed a form that could contain images of pre- and post-loading checklists to further enhance and authenticate their logistical documentation. “In this case, we had a pain point that could only be solved by digitizing our paper forms.”
The largest hurdle for the Chemtrade team was to find a digital form solution that not only met their criteria but also minimized the amount of change made to their original process. They needed a solution that would allow multi-user collaboration, maintain formatting on mobile devices, and provide visual aid with images for more thorough documentation. Therefore, they sought out a solution online and came across GoFormz.
“Only change what you need. If you can make things look similar that goes a long way, and GoFormz allowed us to do just that by uploading our existing paper forms.” Holding multiple patents on its digitization technology, GoFormz is the only digital form solution provider that allows users the ability to use their existing paper forms without changing the look and feel of the document. “The uneasiness that comes with any change goes along with buy-in,” Bahl continued to say, “having that feature was a big part as to why we chose GoFormz.”
“The main pain point was being able to document the condition of the railcar before it left the site, but the means of doing it was a digital form so it doesn’t become a logistical nightmare.” The Image field happens to be one of the most commonly used GoFormz features, helping thousands of transportation and manufacturing companies provide thorough documentation of shipments for customers. Not only did the Image field do just that for Chemtrade, but it also minimized operator error while conducting their inspections. “It helps them document that they did everything properly, but at the same time, if they have to take a picture of some feature on the railcar that needs to be present, then that’s a reminder for them as well.”
Although Chemtrade has been documenting its logistical processes for years, digitizing its documentation introduced visibility into day-to-day operations which weren’t there prior to GoFormz. “A customer now might contact us two months in the future and say the placard is missing. We can then go back, pull up that PDF, and present the condition of the railcar showing the placard was present before it left the site.”
“I was expecting more issues because anytime you implement something new it takes a while to work the kinks out,” explained Bahl, “I was pleasantly surprised to see how well everything worked.” With over 10,000 railcars now documented in GoFormz, Chemtrade hasn’t seen any issues arise from an operational standpoint. Internally being satisfied with the newly enhanced process shortly led to higher customer satisfaction. “Before GoFormz, we weren’t documenting the visual condition of the railcar. Now whenever we have a customer issue, we are able to look at the forms and have that improved customer service.”