Spartech Corporation

Spartech Chooses 3E for ‘One Stop Shop’ Integrated EH&S and Product Stewardship Solution

Background

Spartech Corporation (now part of PolyOne) is a leading producer of plastic products including polymeric compounds, concentrates, custom extruded sheet and rollstock products and packaging technologies for a wide spectrum of customers. The company’s three business segments, which operate facilities in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and France, annually process more than 1 billion pounds of plastic resins, specialty plastic alloys, and color and specialty compounds.

Spartech has developed products and instituted programs that address today's sustainablity needs. These products and programs relate in part to product stewardship and minimizing environmental impacts.

“Safety and sustainability are of utmost importance to Spartech. These priorities are at the very core of our company, and our commitment to achieving these goals permeates all the various groups in the company,” said Bernard C. Henn, Corporate Product Stewardship Manager, Spartech Corporation. “In the Product Stewardship group, for example, we constantly strive to reduce the health and environmental impacts of our products.”

Challenges

“However, this isn’t exactly an easy task,” said Mr. Henn. “So we began by searching for a solution to help augment our product safety and stewardship efforts. My top priority was to find a system that integrated both vendor Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) management with MSDS authoring, thus allowing for data sharing. I envisioned that such an integrated system would dramatically streamline the development of hazard communication documentation and management of vendor sourced raw material MSDSs, and promote compliance with emerging regulatory requirements such as the Global Harmonized System (GHS).”

Spartech began researching vendors, but ultimately found that very few could provide the powerful data sharing capabilities that Spartech required. “What I was really looking for was a one stop shop for all of my EH&S and product stewardship needs,” said Mr. Henn. “Many vendors were able to offer standalone MSDS management and others could offer MSDS authoring systems, but only 3E Company has the expertise, platforms, data, and services required to integrate the two.”

Solutions

The Spartech EH&S and Product Stewardship teams kicked off the vendor research process by independently evaluating the two different components of their desired solution. First, the team reviewed MSDS authoring platforms.

When the team evaluated 3E Company’s MSDgen MSDS authoring platform, they were impressed with its capabilities. “MSDgen offers Spartech a full service authoring system that spans from a raw material database all the way through to product stewardship for our finished products,” said Mr. Henn.

The team also appreciated MSDgen’s global reach. “We appreciate that MSDgen is a full EH&S and product stewardship solution that complies with other country regulations even where Spartech may not be doing business today, but could be tomorrow. We were impressed that the MSDgen team had a firm grasp on global authoring and regulatory requirements - this was very important given Spartech’s desire to provide compliant and accurate MSDSs in both the countries in which it operates, as well as in the countries where its customers operate, including those which have implemented their own adaptation of GHS.”

Mr. Henn cites an example of an electronics manufacturer who was developing speakers for a Japanese automotive manufacturer that utilized one of Spartech’s plastic compounds. By using MSDgen, Mr. Henn was able to create with a GHS compliant MSDS that fulfilled Japanese regulations, first in an English format, so he could review that finished product in the context of the market that it was going to serve.

The team also identified the key features and characteristics that its chosen MSDS management solution needed to have. “From a plant perspective, our EH&S team wanted to meet the EPA’s reporting requirements,” said Mr. Henn. “We also needed to fulfill Right-to-Know requirements. 3E Online met all of these criteria and more.”

Finally, although the team was not planning to evaluate online regulatory compliance tools, they quickly realized the potential benefits of also adding such a solution to the mix, when they watched a demonstration of Ariel WebInsight. Ariel WebInsight's intuitive interface provides Spartech with access to accurate, comprehensive, up-to-date, global regulatory reference data.

Once the team had evaluated all of the solutions independently, it became evident that WebInsight, 3E Online-MSDS and MSDgen were industry leading solutions, and implementing an integrated 3E Online and MSDgen solution would provide Spartech with the combined EH&S and product stewardship ‘one stop shop’ solution they had desired for so long.

With this goal in mind, Spartech quickly began working with 3E’s team of regulatory experts to determine how to best integrate the solutions.

Results

The chosen solution involved a new 3E offering: 3E Integrated MSDS Data for MSDgen, which features the integration of 3E’s MSDS management data and services with the MSDgen platform. With this new product, Spartech was finally able to realize the powerful data-sharing capabilities that it had long envisioned.

“Having one preferred vendor for both our EH&S and product stewardship needs is a tremendous advantage for us,” said Mr. Henn. “Data updates and changes are seamlessly applied to both MSDgen and 3E Online. We don’t need to update the data separately.”

With 3E Integrated MSDS Data for MSDgen, the supplier MSDSs and raw material data used in Spartech products is updated and imported into the MSDgen authoring platform on a regular basis, dramatically reducing the amount of time required to acquire and access these documents and data. The 3E Integrated MSDS Data services for MSDgen extracts chemical ingredients and key physical-chemical data — such as boiling point, physical state, density, and flash point — to load into MSDgen as key raw material inputs for the development of product-level hazard communication documentation. The seamless integration of indexed data from the raw material MSDSs streamlines the authoring process, as now the MSDS author does not have to manually enter this information into MSDgen.

“I recently authored more than 400 MSDSs in one month – for different countries in multiple languages,” said Mr. Henn. “Having an integrated solution has many advantages, with the resulting increase in productivity being very valuable.”

“MSDgen has also been invaluable in helping us conform to the myriad of complex regulations that impact North America and Europe. In the past, authoring for the EU has been incredibly difficult because of the requirements presented by REACH and GHS,” said Mr. Henn. “With MSDgen, we are confident that we are authoring documents that conform to these regulations.”

In addition, Spartech also has access to the individual 3E Online-MSDS, MSDgen and WebInsight solutions. The team relies on 3E Online-MSDS, for example, to not only act as the repository of raw material data that feeds into MSDgen, but also as a valuable EH&S tool for Right-to-Know requirements.

“3E Online-MSDS helps us see the big picture of how chemicals are being used on a plant-by-plant basis. The solution acts as a raw material database that allows us to evaluate usage on a plant-by-plant basis and to better evaluate liabilities and concerns. Being able to search by CAS number or raw material numbers and very quickly receive a summary of how each site may be impacted by a particular chemical substance including vendor impurities is very beneficial, especially from a procurement point of view,” said Mr. Henn.

“We were impressed that while Ariel WebInsight integrates with both 3E Online MSDS and MSDgen, it also offers us the ability to log in independently and drill down to the potential implications of regulations on our many product lines. This is as easy as entering a CAS number,” said Mr. Henn.

The team has been very pleased with the quality of 3E’s solutions, and with the dedication and performance of 3E’s team of regulatory and technical experts.

“In the meantime, we have been quite pleased with the many benefits that we have realized by using 3E Integrated MSDS Data for MSDgen. Using this innovative new tool helps Spartech realize our safety and sustainability goals by providing us with the data we need to efficiently develop compliant HazComm documents and effectively manage our vendor raw material MSDSs. Having access to our vendor MSDS data within MSDgen streamlines the authoring process tremendously, reducing the amount of time spent authoring MSDSs, which frees up time for other strategic goals,” said Mr. Henn.

Location: Global
3E Services: 3E Integrated MSDS Data for MSDgen, 3E Online-MSDS, MSDgen, WebInsight
Industry/Market: Plastics
Company Web Site:  http://www.spartech.com