This Issue ...
- Chemical Industry News
- Biotech and the Economy: A recent study estimates that since their commercialization in 1996, biotech crops have saved farmers 441 million gallons of fuel through reduced-field operations, and less carbon dioxide is released into the air through no- and low-tillage cropping systems that use biotech herbicide-tolerant varieties. Read more.
- Europe Carbon-Dioxide Emissions: According to a recent briefing, member states in the EU are squandering a significant part of their energy due to inefficiency, and buildings were responsible for 40 percent of Europe's total carbon-dioxide emissions. Read more.
- Thought-Leader Relationships: A recent report found that participating pharmaceutical and biotech companies have formed consulting relationships with an average of 217 thought leaders such as influential physicians. Read more.
- Hydrogen Technology's Impact: Although a recent study predicts that the basic structure of the automotive market will change little over the next 20 years, it suggests that the environmental and geopolitical implications of large-scale biofuel production will replace one form of energy insecurity with another. Read more.
- Feature Article
- Guest Viewpoint: Developing Railroad Security: Within the surface transportation sector, rail traffic — both passenger and freight — presents the most lucrative and vulnerable target to terrorists. Almost two million loads of hazardous materials or chemicals are transported by rail each year. Read more.
- Commodity Report: With globalization, trade liberalization, and, especially, the rapid growth of the Asian economies, China and India have become key players in several specialty chemicals markets. Read more.
- Announcements: Visit the Knowledge Center today and gain access to ISM's expanded class offerings, which now include Accenture's Supply Chain Academy (SCA) courses. Read more.
- Additional Resources: Check out these links to additional resources on the ISM Web site. Read more.
- Contact Us about ISM eDigest: Chemicals.
|Chemical Industry News
Biotech and the Economy
Biotech Crops Yielding Benefits
A study by United Kingdom economist Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics Unlimited of Dorchester, has documented major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, fuel and pesticide use in the past decade since the shift to conservation tillage due to the growing number of biotech crops.
According to the study, GM Crops: The First 10 Years — Global Socio-Economic and Environmental Impacts, biotech crops planted during their 10th year of use on 215 million acres by 8.5 million farmers reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 8.9 million tons. That is equivalent to removing nearly 4 million family cars from the road for an entire year, says Brookes.
Since herbicide-tolerant biotech crops were planted using conservation tilling practices in 2005, along with the introduction of insect-resistant crops, fuel usage and pesticide spraying in farming has dropped. Biotech crops have effectively changed the way people farm, says Brookes. "Their environmental performance during the first decade of use shows the important role the technology is playing both now and in the future in helping global agriculture reduce its greenhouse gas emissions."
Brookes' study estimates that since their commercialization in 1996, biotech crops have saved farmers 441 million gallons of fuel through reduced-field operations, and less carbon dioxide is released into the air through no- and low-tillage cropping systems that use biotech herbicide-tolerant varieties.
The study notes that the environmental and economic benefits of biotech crops are fairly evenly divided between farmers in developed and developing countries. Worldwide, use of biotech crops decreased the environmental impact of crop production associated with pesticide use by more than 15 percent, as calculated using environmental impact quotient (EIQ) methodology, according to the study.
The economic impact has been positive as well — biotech crops contributed $5 million in net farm-level economic benefit to farmers, plus an additional $0.6 million that arose from a second soybean crop in Argentina, which was the result of an increase in no-till soybean plantings. In fact, Brookes notes that combining biotech insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant traits in corn has boosted farm income by more than $3.1 billion since the trait's introduction.
This documentation of the increased productivity and reduced environmental impact comes at a time when the demand for corn to be used for food, fuel and export needs is growing every year. U.S. Grains Council Chairman Vic Miller, an Iowa corn producer, says that biotechnology will help North America meet the higher production requirements. "This study goes a long way toward documenting the production increases achieved with biotech crops," says Miller. "Greater yields mean more corn for ethanol, which removes carbon dioxide from the air each time a new corn plant sprouts. Reduced environmental impact through biotech crop use is becoming an important selling point as we communicate with our grain trading partners," he says.
Brookes' study notes that environmental benefits that might have been overlooked in the past will not be in the future. "Projecting forward, the environmental gains made possible with biotech crops have the potential to compound quite dramatically as the technology becomes more available to farmers worldwide," he says.
To view the complete study, visit the U.S. Grains Council Web site.
Back to Top
Europe Carbon-Dioxide Emissions
European Union Not Meeting Kyoto Protocol Targets
According to the European Commission, member states in the European Union (EU) are not meeting Kyoto Protocol targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Global growth consulting company Frost & Sullivan hosted an interactive briefing in March to discuss climate change and the EU's standpoint on energy efficiency. One of the key findings in the briefing was that member states were squandering a significant part of their energy due to inefficiency, and that buildings were responsible for 40 percent of Europe's total carbon-dioxide emissions.
Although it was clear that member states are committed to cutting down on carbon-dioxide emissions, it is essential that current energy use be significantly reduced in all buildings. The Energy Performance Building Directive (EPBD) is intended to help realize the targets, and the briefing also helped explain how it will affect manufacturers of building technology products and energy management service providers in the future.
"Even though many energy efficiency measures are cost-effective with a relatively short payback time, they are often not undertaken due to financial restraints," says research analyst Reka Szanto. "If more stringent standards are applied to new buildings and renovations, the EU will achieve a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions."
Szanto also concluded that the problem needs to be addressed on a national level, as any effort made by business will not be successful if it is not coupled with a change in consumer behavior.
For more information on this briefing, please visit the Frost & Sullivan Web site.
Back to Top
Pharmaceutical and Biotech Companies Consult With 217 Thought Leaders
A recent report found that participating pharmaceutical and biotech companies have formed consulting relationships with an average 217 thought leaders, such as influential physicians.
The report, titled Pharmaceutical Thought Leaders 2007: Determining Fair-Market Value and Measuring Performance, was written by Cutting Edge Information and found that large companies have the highest average of thought leaders at 259 per company, while mid-sized companies average 224 thought leaders. Small companies average only 191, and biotech companies average even fewer with 76 thought leaders per company.
The number of thought leaders engaged at any time varies from zero to thousands, says Elio Evangelista, senior research analyst at Cutting Edge. "To reach effective levels, the type and number of thought leaders needed per company depends largely on the size of the company and the size of the target markets each company is trying to reach."
In addition, the study compared breakdowns between commercial and clinical thought leaders. The results showed that most of the time, companies are contracting with commercial leaders more than clinical opinion leaders. The average company has worked with 122 commercial leaders compared to only 95 clinical relationships.
In both large and small pharmaceutical companies, commercial thought leaders outnumber clinical thought leaders, but the biotech companies in the report utilized an equal number of the two types of thought leaders, on average. Mid-sized companies reversed the trend by working with an average of 124 clinical and scientific thought leaders than commercial thought leaders (100).
The report is available at the Cutting Edge Information Web site.
Back to Top
Hydrogen Technology's Impact
Automotive Market Feeling Early Impact of Hydrogen Technology
Hydrogen-powered vehicles are already having an impact on today's automotive market, even though commercial deployment is at least two decades away.
According to the report Driving in Neutral — New Automobile Ownership, Fueling and Use Models, published in March 2007 by U.K.-based analysts CarbonFree, several manufacturers are already working on hydrogen-powered vehicles for their brands. However, commercialization of these green cars would mean cannibalizing revenue from existing products. The industry will be forced to act when oil companies attempt to exploit unconventional sources of oil such as shale and tar sands, which will be very expensive.
The automotive industry will need to look for alternatives, and the work already carried out on hydrogen and electric vehicles will serve as a gateway for new entrants on the market, suggests the study. Although the study predicts that the basic structure of the automotive market will change little over the next 20 years, because biofuels will be used to help governments meet emission reduction targets, it suggests that the environmental and geopolitical implications of large-scale biofuel production will replace one form of energy insecurity with another.
Today, governments are attempting to reduce private motoring even while manufacturers are spending millions to promote automobile ownership. There are also controversial issues regarding automobile use, such as the growing number of elderly people who are no longer able to drive. The report points out that emotions and motoring must be separated, and until they are, governments face similar challenges to the ones they encountered when dissuading people from smoking.
For more information about the report, visit the CarbonFree Web site.
Back to Top
Guest Viewpoint: Developing Railroad Security
By Charles H. White Jr.
Editorial note: The views, opinions and comments stated in the article are those solely of the author and are not representative of the Institute for Supply Management™ or any of its affiliates.
There are roughly 140,000 miles of active track in the national freight rail network comprised of the Class Is and about 600 short line railroads; 23,000 miles of track used for rail passengers; 7,100 miles of urban rail transit systems; 165,000 miles of bus routes; and more than 4 million miles of interstate, national highway and other roads open to the trucking industry within America's surface transportation system.1 Within the surface transportation sector, rail traffic — both passenger and freight — presents the most lucrative and vulnerable target to terrorists. Almost two million loads of hazardous materials or chemicals are transported by rail each year. As shown by recent tragic events in London, Madrid and Mumbai (Bombay), rail traffic is increasingly a target of choice for organized and careful terrorists.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) states that it fully understands the threat posed by an attack on hazardous materials or chemicals in transit: "An airborne hazard from an attack against a chemical facility or toxic chemicals in transit is among the most serious risks facing America's highest threat areas."2 Yet, at the same time the budget requested for TSA tells a different story. The President's proposed budget includes $5 billion for aviation security and only $41.4 million for surface transportation security, which, of course, covers much more that the freight rail system. Equally telling, there are more than 40,000 TSA personnel dedicated to aviation, and only about 100 dedicated to the sprawling surface transportation sector outlined above.
Is there anything wrong with this proposed budget and asset allocation? Indeed — there is. However, for purposes of this article, only the most glaring policy shortcomings that impact chemical shippers will be explored:
The imbalance between the aviation and surface modes. In terms of transport security expenditures (the real measure of commitment) the government's approach is imbalanced.3 The airlines have been on a kind of federal life support since 9/11. But if this commitment comes out of a relatively finite set of funds available for overall transport security, it comes with a high cost to the other modes and the shipping community dependent on them. The biggest impact has been on the private sector rail industry, which, unlike the truckers, builds and maintains its own infrastructure. The railroads have been largely left to carry their own security burdens without much federal support. Chemical shippers by rail obviously have a stake in TSA's current policy, which greatly favors aviation over the surface modes.
The relative neglect of freight transport security. While a hijacked airliner is an effective bomb, so is a rail car loaded with widely available chlorine. Detonation of a chlorine tank car in a populated area would have disastrous results. Indeed, al Qaeda is turning to makeshift chlorine bombs as improvised WMDs.4 The various municipal attempts now in litigation to force rerouting of hazardous material rail traffic away from highly populated areas has only begun the calculus of risk balancing — trading longer exposure through circuitous routing against local exposure. This policy dialog calls for careful analysis rather than a rush to super "NIMBY" cases which may collectively result in a highly inefficient, jerry-built network of forced rerouting patterns. Chemical shippers, as important stakeholders, need to be at the table in this public policy discussion. They also need to urge TSA to pay more attention to freight transport security beyond the ports. Dangerous lading does not only come in from overseas; it moves daily in huge quantities over our surface modes.
The failure to recognize the intermodal nature of our freight transport system. Supply and logistics experts understand the interconnected and coordinated nature of America's intermodal surface freight transport system. Indeed, its intermodal nature is a necessary prerequisite in making supply chain management a powerful new management tool. Unfortunately, the government, through Homeland Security and TSA, has yet to grasp the concept as shown by its security funding priorities. This has left the truckers and railroads to develop their own separate security technologies and approaches. In addition to being dangerous, it is also wasteful of limited resources. Leading industry users of the transport system, with much at stake in security (like chemical shippers), must take a leading role in advocating for a system/intermodal approach to transportation security.
The failure to assist the railroads at a level commensurate with their needs, risks and vulnerabilities. America's private sector railroads, unlike the airlines and truckers, build, own and maintain their infrastructures. This is massively expensive. The rail industry is among, if not the most, capital intensive of America's industries. The president of the Association of American Railroads has shown that the Class I roads have invested almost 50 percent of their operating revenue on infrastructure and operating equipment over the last quarter century. The rail industry's asset base necessary to produce a dollar of revenue is more than twice the average of all other industries.5 Moreover, enormous traffic increases are predicted for a rail industry approaching or already at capacity limits.6 The infrastructure investment necessary to meet this demand leaves little or no financial ability to undertake significant security projects. While being lavish with the airline industry, the government has largely left the railroads to themselves. Given the terrorists' "discovery" of chemicals for bomb materials, and the increasing tempo of attacks on the world's railroads, TSA's allocation of security funding cannot be allowed to continue.
A New Rail Security Regime
Just as last year's aborted Dubai port deal shifted the public's security focus from the airlines to the ports, the increasing attacks on the world's rail systems — along with the realization that potential domestic improvised "WMDs" move in great volume over our rail system — has finally prompted Congress to act. Presently, two important pieces of security legislation are pending. Unfortunately, legislation embodying the 9/11 Commission's recommendations has included a veto-guaranteeing provision allowing the unionization of the TSA aviation workers. This will undoubtedly cause further revision and delay.
Perhaps holding more immediate promise for rail security enhancement is the just announced "Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007," H.R. 1269, 110 Cong. 1st Sess.7 While it is too early to predict the exact content of the Rail Security Act, now just entering the legislative process, we can say that it holds great potential to assist the private sector railroads, using an 80 percent to 20 percent contribution formula to develop hard security-enhancing projects (that is, those involving physical and technological augmentations to the railroads' present largely procedure-based security systems).
The time is now for chemical shippers, as important stakeholders in this area, to accept the railroads' invitation for greater public-private partnership in security; to join the dialog on forced rerouting of chemical traffic moving by rail; and to engage in the legislative process to both advance their industry's interests — and, more important, further the public interest in making America's rail system as safe and secure as possible.
Charles H. White Jr. is the former senior railroad policy official at the U.S. Department of Transportation and served as Visiting Professor of Logistics at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy from 2001-07. He is a senior research fellow at Dartmouth College's Tuck Graduate School of Business, Hanover, New Hampshire. To contact the author or sources mentioned in this article, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation, Pocket Guide to Transportation, 2007.
2 Kip Hawley, Asst. Secretary TSA, before the Subcommittee of Homeland Security, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives re the President's Budget for 2008, p.8.
3 For instance, the federal government spends about $9 to protect each airline passenger annually; it spends about 1 penny to keep each train or transit passenger safe.
4 On March 17, news reports indicated that over 350 Iraqis were injured in truck borne chlorine tank explosions. Chlorine, of course, was a widely used gas weapon in World War I.
5 Hamberger, E, "Public-Private Partnerships Address Rail Transportation Challenges," Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics and Policy, Vol. 72, No.2 (2005), pg. 218
6 The Department of Transportation predicts that rail traffic will grow by 50% by 2020. Freight Analysis Framework, 2002.
7 In introducing the Bill, Chairman Oberstar stated; "Tragically, transit and rail systems have long been popular targets of terrorist attacks worldwide. From 1991 to 2001, 42 percent of all terrorist incidents were carried out on rail systems or buses. Recent tragic events show that these threats continue."
Back to Top
Trends in Global Specialty Chemicals
Unlike commodity chemicals, which are sold strictly on the basis of their chemical composition and where the product of one producer is readily interchangeable with that of any other, specialty chemicals are designed for performance. They can be single-chemical entities or formulations of several chemicals whose composition sharply influences the performance and processing of the customer's final product.
Specialty chemicals can be produced for special, end-use markets such as electronic, textile or oil field chemicals, or they can perform special functions in the final product such as adhesive, antioxidant, flame retardant or biocidal functions. Many specialty chemicals are produced in batch processes rather than in continuous production processes by a complex, interlinked industry that — in addition to chemical product sales — also provides service and integrated solutions to its clients.
In 2006, global specialty chemicals industry sales were valued at $486 billion. In Figure 1, SRI Consulting identifies 35 different specialty chemicals segments by market size and projected growth rate. Each business segment is represented by a variety of subsegments with numerous individual products and applications.
The specialty chemicals industry has traditionally been dominated by companies located in North America, Western Europe and Japan. But with globalization, trade liberalization and, especially, the rapid growth of the Asian economies, China and India have become key players in several specialty chemicals markets, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients, textile chemicals and synthetic dyes. The majority of investment in specialty chemicals manufacturing will occur in these two countries because of the availability of skilled and cheap labor within potentially huge markets.
Many specialty chemicals companies have already made significant investments in China and India, and plan to continue to invest there in the long term. Figure 2 provides a regional distribution of specialty chemicals sales and estimated volume growth rates for North America, Western Europe, Japan, China and the world.
Since the beginning of the last decade, the specialty chemicals industry — as well as its customer base (for example, the automotive, petroleum, textile, paper and electronic industries) — has consolidated, driven by the struggle for survival in a globally competitive market. In addition to factors within the specialty chemicals industry and its end-use industries, the business is influenced by many external factors, including oil price developments, changing foreign exchange rates (which have an impact on the cost of raw materials and exports) and political intervention, such as government regulations on the environment, health and safety.
Over time, high-volume segments in textile chemicals, synthetic dyes, plastic additives, water treatment, paper chemicals, paint and coatings ingredients, and surfactants have turned into semispecialty or small commodity segments. These chemicals' production processes have become cost-driven because the products now have neither patent protection nor a unique selling position. Usually, the largest supplier with global reach is the cost leader. Excess production capacity has led to price wars and fierce competition, particularly from producers in China and India.
In the past, specialty chemicals companies sold their products on value, but they have found it difficult in recent years to increase prices to compensate for higher R&D, energy and raw material costs. Their industrial customers have become more cost-conscious and utilize advances in supply chain management, strategic sourcing and e-commerce. Specialty chemicals such as food additives, flavors and fragrances, and electronic chemicals can still be defined as classic specialty chemicals. They are sold in relatively small quantities and face less pricing pressure because they represent a small percentage of the total cost of the final product.
A Focus on Services
The specialty chemicals industry is trying to improve its margins by implementing price increases, cutting internal costs, developing new products and moving to faster-growing markets. Specialty chemicals companies are also trying to differentiate and raise barriers to entry into their markets by providing services in addition to chemicals. Such services include customized product development, onsite technical support and supply chain management, working more closely with key customers to help them improve performance and reduce costs.
Providing service has long been the way to do business in some specialty chemicals sectors, including automotive coatings, fluid catalytic cracking catalysts, pharmaceutical ingredients, printing inks and water treatment. While size, scale and cost position are important aspects of the competitiveness of a global specialty chemicals producer, R&D and innovation are the success factors creating future growth in sales and profits and maintaining entry barriers. Most research is not aimed at new compounds — today the majority of R&D expenditure is devoted to finding new applications for existing chemicals.
By Uwe Fink, senior consultant with the Specialty Chemicals Update Program (SCUP) at SRI Consulting, Zurich, Switzerland. To contact the author or sources mentioned in this article, please send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Back to Top
ISM's 92nd Annual International Supply Management Conference and Educational Exhibit
May 6-9, 2007
Bally's Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV
There's still time to register for ISM's 92nd Annual International Supply Management Conference and Educational Exhibit.
Join us for four days of non-stop education, solutions and networking.
This is the place to be if you're a supply management professional!
CAREER CENTER* — ROUNDTABLES — PROJECT MANAGEMENT
BUSINESS CONTINUITY — CYBER CAFÉ — EXHIBIT HALL
SPECIAL AWARDS — KEYNOTES
*If you are already registered for the Conference, don't forget to upload your résumé and take advantage of the Career Center on-site. We're offering a free service to critique your résumé (on Monday, 5/7/07). The Conference Career Center is offered exclusively for Conference attendees.
Currently, these world-class companies will be conducting interviews:
- FMC Technologies, Inc.
- Harley-Davidson Motor Co.
- ICG Commerce
- Philip Morris USA
- The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc
Need help getting management approval? Use our Create a Winning Proposal document to help gain management support to attend the Conference.
For more information, contact ISM Customer Service at 800/888-6276, extension 401 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ism.ws.
We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!
Institute for Supply Management™ gratefully acknowledges the support of our platinum sponsor, Office Depot®. Please visit them at booth #311 in the Educational Exhibit Hall. For more information, log on to www.officedepot.com/bsd.
ISM Expands Online Course Offerings
Visit the Knowledge Center today and gain access to ISM's expanded class offerings, which now include Accenture's Supply Chain Academy (SCA) courses. Global in scope, these courses were developed by experts from more than 30 leading organizations, professional associations, industry consortia and educational institutions.
ISM is dedicated to your success. We've designed the Knowledge Center for you and your organization to give you access to a comprehensive curriculum that addresses all areas of the supply chain. Whether you're looking to improve your skills or want to expand the capabilities of your organization, ISM is your total education resource for achieving your goals.
And, we understand that everyone has a unique learning style. These expanded offerings provide you with a multitude of delivery formats and more continuing education opportunities.
Enroll today and earn Continuing Education Hours (CEHs).
To access the Online Course Guide, go to www.ism-knowledgecenter.ws/customcontent/course_info/comp_catalog.pdf.
To register for a course, visit the Knowledge Center at www.ism-knowledgecenter.ws.
For more information, contact ISM Customer Service at 800/888-6276 or 480/752-6276, extension 401.
Back to Top
A Wealth of Information at www.ism.ws
Visit ISM's Web site, www.ism.ws, for more supply management resources. The site provides published articles, conference presentations and reference materials that pertain to supply managers in all industries. Here are some items that might be of interest:
- In their quest for more strategic, higher-value information technology (IT) services, U.S. companies have been offshoring services to Indian suppliers for more than 20 years. In the article India & the Extended IT Enterprise, author Vineet Luthra, a principal in the supply chain innovation practice at PRTM Management Consultants in Washington, D.C., examines why many CPOs in today's corporate world are more inclined than ever to send their companies' strategic services to India. The IT industry in India has been growing to keep up with the global demand for consulting, design, operations and maintenance for the supply chain, and Luthra explains the benefits and performance measures inherent to outsourcing in this growing nation.
- It's often been said that the corporate workplace can be compared to a battlefield. Using his unique wit and profound understanding of what it's like in the office trenches, Fortune magazine columnist and author Stanley Bing offers a unique insight to the art of corporate war in the article Arming Executive Warriors, by Jill Schildhouse. Bing, who is a keynote speaker at ISM's 92nd Annual International Supply Management Conference in Las Vegas May 6-9, 2007, describes some useful military strategies that can help individuals wage war and win in a highly competitive working environment. In his book Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the Real Art of War, he humorously explains his battle theories as he also does in this enlightening interview.
- Sustaining a business of any size is difficult, but for a minority business, the hurdles can be more difficult to overcome, especially when it comes to acquiring needed capital. David E. Malone, president of David Malone & Associates in Chicago, explains in his article, Minority Business — The Capital Gap, that minority-owned businesses need to grow through capital investment in order to globalize and become competitive. In order to fuel growth, Malone says that minority companies need to move beyond a "mom and pop" sole proprietor mentality and redefine the dilution of the minority stake so that the percentage of minorities on staff does not adversely affect financial set-asides. A checklist of winning strategies and the success story of Worldwide Technology is also included.
- Throughout the world, we all depend on our highways, oil refineries, military bases and power plants to keep everyday life safe and functional. Industry leader Fluor Corporation in Dallas engineers, procures, constructs and maintains these necessary structures, using a nontraditional approach to procurement that is center-led and run by a core group of procurement professionals. Procurement: Helping Fluor Accomplish Its EPC Mission is a professional profile by John Yuva that takes a closer look at how this engineering, procurement and construction company deploys its team to source the globe for equipment, material and services to support the various contracts secured by the company.
Back to Top