Transport and logistics in the chemical, petrochemical and gas industry
These systems are a profitable tool for chemical companies and logistics service providers
Systems for the Evaluation of Safety and Quality (SQAS) in the chemical sector
To a large extent, the European chemical sector uses the logistics services provided by third parties for the storage, handling and transport of raw materials, intermediate products and finished products from the chemical sector. Chemical companies need to have guarantees that these operations are carried out safely and responsibly, with due respect for the safety of employees, the public and the environment.
In the past, chemical companies obtained the guarantee of safety and the environment independently through the periodic audits to which their logistics service providers submitted. This fragmentary approach implied the performance of multiple audit plans and was costly and inefficient for the chemical and transport sectors.

At the beginning of the 90s, within the scope of the initiative of commitment of progress (Responsible Care), Cefic launched the program ICE (abbreviations of International Chemical Environment), with the aim of improving transport safety, storage and handling of chemical products. One of the key elements of the program was the development of several Safety and Quality Assessment Systems (SQAS), one for each means of transport or specific logistics operation (road, rail, intermodal, cleaning, transport) maritime freight, bulk cargo transport vessels, bulk material storage terminals and barges).
SQAS systems are an adequate tool to obtain a uniform evaluation of environmental management systems, quality and safety of logistics service providers, carried out by independent consultants with the help of a standard questionnaire. In this way, the SQAS systems avoid many evaluations by each chemical company and help companies to select their logistics service providers and define the improvements they wish to achieve in each case.

Conducting an SQAS assessment by an independent consultant does not lead to obtaining a certificate. Instead, it allows obtaining a factual report report, which each chemical company must assess according to its own requirements. In this way, a single evaluation replaces the multiple inspections that are usually the object of logistics service providers, and ensures that the dialogue between each service provider and each chemical company is not superfluous.

Although a SAQS system does not guarantee the safety and quality of the services provided by a provider, it offers a mechanism for evaluating continuous improvement. The system allows the supplier to know the virtues and defects detected during the evaluation. In addition, after evaluation of the assessment report by the chemical company, customers can provide their opinions on this. This can contribute to establishing collaborative relationships beneficial to both parties.
The advantages of SQAS systems can be summarized as follows:

The existence of a concerted sector model encourages collaboration between chemical companies and their logistics service providers.
The realization of a single objective evaluation allows adapting it to the needs of each chemical company.
The follow-up of a systematic approach helps logistics service providers to concentrate their efforts on the aspects that require the most attention.
SQAS systems are a profitable tool for chemical companies (which need to carry out fewer audits) and for logistics service providers (which are subject to fewer audits).
SQAS systems contribute to continuous improvement.
SQAS systems represent a very important tool for the safety advisor of dangerous goods.

Evaluation process
In general, the SQAS evaluation process covers the following steps:

The logistics service provider hires an independent and well-qualified consultant to conduct a SQAS assessment and become familiar with the SQAS package in question.
The assessor carries out the evaluation and generates a report of the exposition of facts to which the comments of the logistics service provider are added later. The report does not offer any recommendation for improvement, nor does it constitute a certificate.
Depending on the SQAS package in question, the logistics service provider voluntarily supplies a copy of the information

SQAS in Transport and logistics in the chemical, petrochemical and gas industry

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