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Chemicals Make Industrial Manufacturing Go Round. How Are You Storing Yours?

Ben Seddon
Ben Seddon

Chemicals, not conveyor belts, make industrial manufacturing go round. How can the way you store them impact your operations?

Resins. Paints. Medical ingredients, ingredients such as alcohol used in the manufacture of food products like luxury chocolate, or the chemicals used to clean up after them: when it comes to storing any of these substances and more, the word “responsibility” is key.

They’re not all hazardous. Some simply deteriorate in the wrong conditions. Others could cause significant harm to your people or the environment. In all cases, guidance exists to advise you on the safe storage of these substances, but it’s typically just that – guidance you should consider following, not legally binding in the same way as government regulations. 

Look down the production line that is your manufacturing process and all kinds of chemicals present themselves. As a responsible compliance officer, how can you categorise them and what steps can you take to keep them – and your operations – in working order?


Chemicals common to industrial manufacturing

Paint and resin

Proper storage helps maintain the integrity of paints and resins commonly used across the automotive manufacturing process. Exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, or contaminants can degrade the chemical composition of these materials, leading to changes in viscosity, colour, or quality. This can result in product defects, rework, or waste.

Some, but not all, paints and resins still contain hazardous chemicals that can pose health and safety risks if not stored properly. Storing them incorrectly can lead to spills, leaks, or fumes, resulting in potential accidents, injuries, or health issues for your people.

Pharmaceutical ingredients

Pharmaceutical ingredients are often highly sensitive to the environment around them. Incorrect temperature conditions, humidity, light, and contamination can all compromise the integrity and effectiveness of these ingredients, leading to reduced potency, altered chemical compositions, or even degradation. As ingredients in medicines that will eventually be ingested or administered to patients, this has huge health and safety implications.

In addition to quality considerations, proper storage of pharmaceutical ingredients helps mitigate various risks associated with the manufacturing process. This includes the risk of contamination, cross-contamination, microbial growth, or chemical reactions that can occur if ingredients are exposed to unsuitable storage conditions. By implementing responsible storage practices, you’ll reduce the likelihood of product defects, recalls, or adverse events.

Read more about chemical compliance in the pharmaceutical industry.

Food ingredients

Like pharmaceutical ingredients, those used in food production, including raw materials, additives, and flavourings, are susceptible to contamination and spoilage if not stored properly. Improper storage conditions, such as exposure to moisture, temperature fluctuations, or pests, can quickly lead to the ingredients spoiling and foodborne illnesses.

In some cases, such as with alcohol and cooking oil, certain ingredients are highly flammable. Food manufacturing sites storing and handling these kinds of ingredients responsibly will take extra care to store them in line with the recommended guidelines. 

Cleaning chemicals

Found in every corner of industrial manufacturing (even those hard to reach places), cleaning chemicals are frequently corrosive, flammable, reactive, or toxic, and improper storage can lead to accidents, spills, or exposure to harmful fumes. Safe storage is key to protecting workers, preventing injuries, and minimising the risk of chemical-related incidents.

It should also be noted that due to the nature of the chemicals commonly used in cleaning fluids, they can be particularly harmful to the environment if a spill or leak occurs. Contaminated runoff can pollute soil, waterways, or groundwater, harming ecosystems and wildlife. By storing cleaning chemicals responsibly and implementing containment measures, manufacturers can minimise this risk and reduce their environmental footprint.

Discover the specialist storage solutions being used by food manufacturers to contain their cleaning chemicals and prevent contamination.


Where to start with more responsible storage?

In every case, the data sheets supplied with the substances in question should be your first port of call. This is where you’ll find all the information you need to understand the products’ risks as well as how to store your products safely according to the recommended guidelines.

  • If the product is corrosive, the data sheet will inform you of this.
  • The data sheet will tell you if it's flammable, as well as what the temperature thresholds are at which the product could ignite or explode.
  • It also covers which products can be stored together. Acids and alkalis would need to be stored separately or with a dividing wall between the two products, for example.

Depending on which products you have on your site, it’s sometimes enough to store these substances separately, or with dividing walls, as in the case above. Other times, you might consider specialist storage solutions as a way to comply with the guidelines. 

Fire-rated units can be used to keep flammable products safe from external sources of ignition, while insulated units can help to store products within certain temperature thresholds to prevent them from deteriorating (resin and paints are a good example of this). Depending on your supplier, you can even add temperature controls to these units in the form of heaters or air conditioning to keep the internal temperature precise and consistent.

Chemicals, not conveyor belts, make industrial manufacturing go round. So when those chemicals spoil, or catch fire, or deteriorate, you can think of your manufacturing process as doing the same. The information contained in your data sheets are guidelines only, but responsible manufacturers can use it to their advantage to keep their operations running.

What do your data sheets say about the chemicals used across your operations, and what steps do they recommend you take to stay compliant?

If you’re unsure about how to interpret your data sheet or you’d like advice around specific storage solutions, get in touch today.