An operator was adding a raw material from many drums. All the drums were black with white ends and had blue & white labels. After adding ~20 drums, the operator noticed a drum that had a different name on it. Same black and white drum, same blue and white label. It was a different material than specified. He called the engineer who told him not to add the drum and isolate it until proper handling could be determined.
What would have happened had he blindly added that material? That is unknown, but at a minimum, it would have been a major quality problem, cost the company a lot of money and perhaps a missed order.
What safeguards failed? The supplier made an error when loading drums onto the pallets. The person receiving the material at the company warehouse also missed the one odd drum among many were received in that shipment. All these systems are based on people following their procedures and paying attention to what was being handled.
Like this example, many chemical handling operations are highly reliant on people performing their jobs correctly. “Many process safety systems depend on chemicals being correctly identified when received.
Electronic scanning of incoming materials can improve accuracy of receiving chemicals IF they are properly labelled by the supplier.
Properly receiving chemicals is a critical step that protects all processes downstream.