How It All Began: The Allchemist Story
Several years ago, I visited a mid-sized chemical manufacturing company. They invited me to meet their research and development staff to see, if we could help them to be more effective in dealing with chemical documentation (technical and safety data sheets).
Having been in the business for more than 15 years, I knew that they had all means and resources needed for the job, so I was very curious to see what the problem might be.
The team, capable of great innovations
I met the head of the research and development team and 4 of his colleagues. They were a really great team, all with PhDs, smart and enthusiastic. They liked to play with the chemical ingredients in the lab and test various mixtures against each other, observing the results and new and improved end products they’ve created.
How great discoveries are made: Intelligent people at play, with freedom to experiment, without the burden of boring administration to slow them down. I could see this unique energy and the spark in their eyes when they were talking about their work. This was a team capable of significant innovations.
What a waste of time and talent!
Everything changed at the very moment when we started to talk about the documentation. The problem was they had implemented an IT system to support their processes internally, but the data, those necessary but unwieldy technical and safety data sheets they received from their suppliers, were in the form of PDF files.
So, to get to the all-important scientific work, they had to enter the data into the IT system first. Slow, boring, fiddly, they had to manually copy the information from safety data sheets and technical data sheets into their software to do the calculations before actually mixing the formulation in the lab. Every company needs to do this, each with their own in-house software, using up countless hours.
Think about it: 4 extremely talented, smart and engaged scientists copy data from PDF files into some software program, just to start doing the serious work, the work they are being paid for, the work that can help change the industry for the better.
What a waste of time and talent! And it’s the same story with every company in the business, all over the world. Data coming in in the form of PDFs only to be manually entered into the company’s private software.
What did they need?
At this point, it was very clear what they wanted. They wanted to outsource the copy-paste data entry activity. They wanted me to help them copy the data from PDFs into their software, so that their scientists wouldn’t have to, and could, instead, work their magic and do what they were being paid for.
When I saw the energy and engagement of these good people, I really wanted to help them. I really wanted to be a part of their high-tech projects. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help them. It wasn’t my line of business. I couldn’t afford to assign my team to copy the data – it wouldn’t have made any difference. Firstly, because new data would come in and my team would have to fill out their own software, and secondly, every company has their own way of doing it. You’ll say why not simply hire a secretary to do the work? Well, this is no regular data entering, you need a certain amount of knowledge of chemistry and experience in paints and coatings industry to do that. The professional knowledge of any team of chemical experts is too valuable to be wasted on manual data entry into a 3rd-grade software system.
The “AHA” Moment!
As I drove back to my office, I thought about the meeting. It came to me that this company is probably not the only one with the same problem. Technical and safety data sheets are the standard for information exchange in the chemical industry. PDFs are an inevitable part of the industry.
So, in order to help the scientists, a system should be developed that would connect both suppliers of chemicals and teams of scientists, like the one I’d just met. Such teams are making new products based on actual chemicals and their values, not on mere documents. At the time, the goal seemed impossible to achieve. The process would require an entirely new way of thinking, a brand-new approach.
Several months later I got a call from one of my clients. He was a CEO and a head of R&D in a small family company producing paints and coatings. He told me that he likes our web application for authoring safety data sheets and managing of chemical documentation, a product that we’ve developed. However, he said that we should consider adding a feature. He needed a tool that would enable him to mix chemicals that are already in the application database to develop a new formulation.
It turned out that he – as well as many other research developers – had the same problem with the data. He realized manual data entry is a time-consuming process and as such costs too much. It also significantly slows down the process of distributing new products. He wanted and needed the data to be transferred in a different manner – he hated the scanned sheets!
When Everything Came Together
Suddenly it hit me. He could provide me with a missing key element – a point where everything comes together.
The idea of Allchemist was born. A couple of months later, we joined forces and started to work on the project. We came up with a way to take the burden of entering technical data from PDFs into software onto our shoulders while at the same time making an easily-searchable database of chemicals, which could be virtually “mixed” with the help of this same software.
On the one hand, we would save scientists countless hours of tedious data entry and on the other, we would speed up their brainstorming process by allowing them to virtually “play” with chemical combinations; all with the help of a single, universal application that would be available to any company, anywhere in the world.
Realization of the Idea
Today the Allchemist is a web application, ready to use in the paint and coatings industry.
The Allchemist is a digital platform that connects suppliers and researchers/developers in paint and coatings industry.
It incorporates three key modules or elements:
- A search engine, in which materials are searchable by type, and by more than 1000 properties and 120 parameters.
- A mixer, where you can easily modify your own existing formulation, use supplier’s starting point formulation or make one from scratch.
- Module for producing or in-app ordering of safety data sheets, as well as for creating labels.
Everything you need to develop the right formulation and skip that time-consuming and non-productive work. We’ve taken care of that for you.
The Allchemist is a web application that works in any browser. It can be accessed anytime, anywhere. All you need is a computer with an internet connection.
And what’s most important, you don’t have to have an army of IT staff to maintain and operate it. Let us take care of all the work you need to have done, but don’t want to do it. The Allchemist frees you from time-consuming paperwork and allows you to concentrate on the important stuff, instantly, without costly software solutions. Stay relevant, fast, agile and competitive.