Q&A: New Raw Materials Analysis

Q&A: New Raw Materials Analysis

In any industry, material supply is subject to ebbs and flows. Normal raw materials or components may cease to be available, or supplies may be limited. Because of this, it is crucial for businesses to remain flexible and be prepared to qualify and adopt new materials into their processes in order to maintain operations and productivity.
In this Q&A with Smithers expert Dr. Dustin Jenkins, learn about different methods for analyzing raw materials, what you can learn about a new material from laboratory testing data, and more. 

What sort of factors can impact the supply and availability of raw materials?

There are many. In the last year we’ve all experienced some kind of supply chain disruption due to COVID-19. Travel restrictions, staff reductions, and other safety measures have all played a role. Wildfires and other natural disasters can contribute as well. Other impactful factors include tariffs and trade policies, business closures, mergers and acquisitions, and other business or political activity. 

What’s the process for analyzing and testing new materials?

Our lab is equipped to identify raw materials or composition of recycled materials, assess quality, and ensure compliance with regulatory standards. Some of our capabilities include: We can develop a custom qualification program based on your needs, since the process is a little different for everyone. 

What do you look for when qualifying new materials?

We can conduct a variety of assessments based on your needs. We can break down compounds and provide a complete profile of all the organic components that comprise the compound, including identification and molecular weight. We can measure the purity of a new material and search for and identify possible impurities or contaminants.
It’s worth mentioning that we can easily conduct identical assessments on two different materials for benchmarking purposes. You could test two different materials and use the results to choose the best option, or you could compare test results for your material and a competitor material. You could use analytical methods to capture a “moment in time” snapshot of a material and compare that snapshot to future versions of the material to assess changes. There are many different ways to use these data. 

What about material or product performance?

We can verify material performance through various physical testing methods. Our on-site sample preparation team can excise laboratory-ready samples and subject them to a variety of tests to measure how the material holds up in the field. This includes:

How quickly can you conduct a material evaluation?

We understand that sometimes these supply chain disruptions can occur quickly forcing an immediate need to validate new materials so as not to disrupt production or launch schedules. This is occurring throughout the automotive industry—and others—currently.
One of the benefits of working with an outside laboratory is that we can cover a wide variety of testing evaluations all in one place. Of course, the timing depends completely on the type and amount of work required, but in general, programs can be conducted quickly.
This also frees up your internal resources for more critical activities and allows your team to do things in parallel to meet tight deadlines.

To learn more about our raw material analysis capabilities, get in touch with Jeremy Elliott at 330-762-7441 or jelliott@smithers.com or Adam Hubbell at 330-762-7441 or ahubbell@smithers.com.

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