Chemistry & Life Sciences

Expert Statement: Thomas Dassler, Managing Director, Häffner

Prospects for the Chemical Distribution Industry

10.05.2022 - CHEManager asked executives and industry experts to share their views on the prospects for the chemical distribution sector.

The chemical distribution business is a diverse industry that provides customized solutions for important sectors such as pharmaceuticals, paints & coatings, agriculture, cosmetics, food & feed, and automotive. At the center of the supply chains of these sectors, distributors are critical partners for global corporations as well as for SMEs. This role has become particularly obvious and relevant during the corona crisis. But distributors also face many challenges in the aftermath of the pandemic and the current political and economic environment.

CHEManager asked executives and industry experts to share their views on the prospects for the chemical distribution sector. We proposed to discuss the following aspects:

  • What, in your opinion, are the most important lessons learned after two years of operating in a pandemic environment?
  • What will be the most important short- and long-term challenges facing the sector?
  • How do chemical distributors support the chemical industry on its path toward carbon neutrality?

Thomas Dassler: After what we have experienced in the last two years, it is more difficult than ever to make sound predictions. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have taught us how quickly things can change, and this will also have a significant impact on the way of doing business in the future.
The worldwide shortage and price increases of raw materials, the excessive rise in international transport cost and geopolitical uncertainties pose major challenges to chemical distributors in maintaining their ability to supply.
Against the backdrop of recent events, we at Häffner have once again intensified our risk management. We always strive to ensure delivery reliability for our customers, even in difficult times.

“To succeed in the environment of an in­creasingly demanding market,
distributors need to strengthen their competitive position.”

Additional challenges for our industry arise from the planned revisions of the REACh and CLP regulation and the Supply Chain Act.
To succeed in the environment of an increasingly demanding market, distributors need to strengthen their competitive position by delivering customers highly specialized solutions and value-added services instead of exchangeable chemical products. Haffner’s customers benefit through our comprehensive services (“Häffner Smart Chemicals”) offering solutions to increase the supply chain’s transparency (via digital twins for IBCs) and manage several standardized processes for the customers like e.g., automated organization of empty container collection, vendor-managed-inventory concepts or even pay-per-use billing-formats. Furthermore, we keep extending the number of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) connections with our customers and suppliers. The combination of both automation and process visibility along the global supply chain contributes to more sustainability by more efficient transport planning and better utilization of (plastic) containers. At the same time, we see noticeable cost advantages for all sides. Nevertheless, especially among our SME customers, we still have to do a lot of persuasion.