Development Of A Chemical Vendor And Product Evaluation Software System: Chem-Select


Thomas Womack

Selecting chemical products in a textile finishing facility is an arduous task affected time constraints and limited
availability of knowledgeable personnel within the facility. Ideally, the process involves the evaluation of chemical
products based upon both vendor and product criteria. In practice, however, the selection may be based upon only the
vendor criteria or product criteria. The evaluation often follows no planned course and thus product selection occurs
using varying criteria. Often there is no consistency in the decision-making process. It is possible for one individual
from a small group of knowledgeable individuals to make all the decisions in regard to chemical product selection. The
selection process is likely very subjective and therefore dependent on the interests of the individual.

This thesis presents research in which a knowledge-base software system was developed to provide structure and
formalism to the chemical selection process within the textile finishing facility. The research was conducted in
cooperation with Thomaston Miffs, Inc. The knowledge-base software system developed is called Chem-Select. The
ChemSelect knowledge-based system represents the rules, procedures, criteria, and formalized expertise exercised by
production managers, a purchasing manager, and technical staff in selecting chemical products. Chem-Select evaluates
a product based upon vendor factor such as financial capability, customer service, product quality, and technical
competence. Product factors such as environmental impact, performance, and quality are considered. Of all the factors
considered in a Chem-Select evaluation, less than one percent is subjective.

Information elicited from the vendors, the purchasing department, department managers, and plant technical staff is
used as input in the evaluation process in ChemSelect. Chem-Select is designed to allow the user to control many of the
system variable in an evaluation; therefore particular aspects of an evaluation can be highlighted for comparison. The
result produced by Chem-Select is a numerical score on a scale of 0 to 100 that can be used for direct comparison of
several competitive products.

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