The catalyst market is changing continuously. Manufacturing technology that was adequate a few years ago may no longer be suitable for producing the latest generation of catalysts coming off the R&D drawing boards today. Catalyst producers manufacture a range of products and scrapping an old product is difficult, as some customers are reluctant to change to newer grades. Consequently, manufacturers have to produce various products on a number of production lines with divergent capabilities, where idle time and underutilisation seem unavoidable.
This prompts the questions: How to rationalise the product portfolio while maintaining market share? How to produce newer grade catalysts on existing lines with minimal investment? How to make sure all products can be produced on each line, providing maximum production flexibility, manufacturing just in time at the lowest inventory costs and in the desired geographical region to minimise lead times and/or duties? Timely investment in the right projects pays off handsomely in the long run. That being said, some products entail a complicated, long lead time and multi-site manufacturing route, whereas other products can justify a more efficient single-site manufacturing plant, possibly complemented by a second site in another region as a fall-back option. The right answer depends on the market size and position and requires in-depth study.
Other issues can also crop up in catalyst manufacture. Certain raw material grades may be unavailable when suppliers are sold out or go out of business. Production facilities may be unavailable when capacity is sold out or the plant is down due to maintenance. In such situations, the question is how to reschedule production to meet demand. If that is not an option, it is necessary to ensure that alternate raw materials or production lines produce a catalyst that not only meets the physical and chemical specifications, but also generates an equivalent performance.
Catalyst Intelligence can assist in formulating the development plan for qualifying a new raw material or alternate production line as rapidly as possible. It is important to anticipate such situations and prepare a plan for activation in advance. Catalyst Intelligence can help you audit your production process and develop alternate routes to meet the demand for consistent product quality.
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