It would turn out to be a fateful day in 2009, when Chuck Malloy first met Charlie Fettinger at BASF’s emulsion polymers dispersion site in Monaca, Pa. Charlie was the Site Supply Chain Manager, and Chuck was the Regional Sales Manager for Troy Corporation, based in Florham Park, NJ. Chuck was making a “cold call” to see if Troy might become a backup supplier for the site. It just so happened that Charlie was looking to develop a backup supplier — BASF already had a primary supplier for the product — but he was intrigued by what Chuck was offering, and he agreed to set up a presentation to site management, BASF chemical engineers, and members of the procurement staff.

“We found that Troy’s pricing was very competitive with our primary supplier,” says Charlie, “and, after setting them up as an official secondary source, we ended up allocating the total demand between our primary supplier and Troy. “I don’t believe it was a large sale for Chuck, but it gave him a foot in the door, and the relationship turned out to be mutually beneficial.”

Beneficial in more ways than one. A few years later, both men were downsized from their respective companies, and Chuck went on to found LexChem Solutions, LLC, a fast-growing company that connects quality manufacturers to the chemical marketplace. And in a twist of fate, Charlie joined LexChem as a Supply Chain Consultant in 2019, bringing his extensive experience in global supply chain management, ERP implementation, process improvement, global forecasting and demand planning. 

Charlie’s experience spans a number of roles, first at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, where he says he started at the bottom in manufacturing and packaging pharmaceutical products, eventually becoming involved with production planning, inventory control, master scheduling, distribution, and transportation on the supply side, then took on the role of demand planning on the forecasting side. He has extensive experience in SAP and a number of other ERP systems. His instincts and skills in process optimization eventually led him to receive extensive training in Lean Six Sigma, which took place at Wyeth’s large biopharma plant in Andover, Mass.

After 23 years at Wyeth, Charlie joined BASF in 2008 as the Site Supply Chain Manager at Monaca, eventually moving on to Supply Chain Business Relationship Manager, responsible for multiple BASF businesses in North America. It was at Monaca where Charlie became deeply involved in all aspects of the site’s supply chain, along with the challenges of keeping products and raw materials flowing to and from the site. “It was a challenge because the site had been in operation under BASF for 25 years, many employees had become accustomed to doing things a certain way, and I think the idea of process optimization made some people a little uncomfortable. But I took it as a challenge to bring a greater understanding of the efficiencies and cost savings that could be achieved through process optimization.”

The Monaca site was struggling with the intensive labor demands involved in the supply chain — no one could get sick, no one could go on vacation, no one could get hurt — without an oversized disruption in the site’s operation. And chances were that something was going to happen. Although BASF was keeping close tabs on the site’s head count, Charlie justified to management the addition of one additional supply chain planner who would concentrate on the the staggering costs of demurrage, the fees associated with tankers and rail cars that sit idly without being unloaded, whether because of a reactor being shut down, or some other disruption. “We were paying more than $1 million a year in rail demurrage alone, an astronomical amount,” says Charlie. “In addition, we incurred significant demurrage on trucks carrying critical raw materials. So finally I was able to justify the addition of a supply chain planner who primarily focused on more accurate planning of the key raw materials, with the objective of reducing total demurrage expenses.”  

The savings were significant, in the range of $250,000 per year. And having that extra person as a backup in the supply chain team proved beneficial  — especially when another planner had a serious slip and fall at home, and was out of work for an extended period of time. 

Charlie recalls another challenge in his role at the plant. “We had one truck leave the plant, and someone had failed to adequately secure the dome lid on the tanker. The truck only made it a couple of hundred yards down the road before making a sharp turn, releasing product from the unsecured lid onto the highway. It qualified as a HAZMAT release, so emergency response personnel were involved in securing and cleaning up the material. And the supply chain was affected. “We lost the truck, had to go through the customer communication process, and had to re-ship the product to the customer, whose supply chain was as tightly managed as ours.”

With nearly 3,500 railcars of latex and raw materials moving into and out of the site, safety, efficiency and cost savings were of paramount importance. Charlie identified the site’s railcar mover as a target to improve all three. A railcar mover is necessary to move the cars to the required loading and unloading stations at the site, and also to operate off the rails, on rubber tires, in “road mode.” “We had purchased a Shuttlewagon five years prior,” he says, “and during the previous 18 months, we started to experience an increasing number of costly derailments. We found that the Shuttlewagon was not optimized to handle the site’s curves, inclines and switches.”

Charlie and the supply chain team identified two other railcar manufacturers, Rail King and Trackmobile, to participate in demonstration trials. After the trials, the Shuttlewagon was put back into service, and the team analyzed the pros and cons of all three rail car manufacturers. It turned out that Rail King had a prototype in testing and development for more than a year, and it overcame the identified weaknesses with Monaca’s current railcar mover. 

Monaca purchased the new Rail King, and saw dramatic reductions in derailments, along with increased site-wide improvements in efficiencies and cost savings. And to top it off, Monaca transferred the Shuttlewagon to BASF’s Quincy site in Florida, saving the site $300,000 over the purchase of a new machine. 

Charlie says that when he attended college at the University of Buffalo, there was no course of study in supply chain management, like there is now. He received a BS degree in business administration and marketing, and went on to become a supply chain expert, not only at Wyeth, BASF and LexChem, but for a number of companies he consults with now. “It turns out that going to school in Buffalo was the ideal choice — because of the terrible weather, I couldn’t wait to graduate, unlike some of my friends who went to school in Florida, and never got a degree,” he says with a chuckle.



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