University Of New Hampshire Chemical Environmental Management System
is a tool for chemical safety & compliance specialized for educational institutions.
- New Homeland Security Reporting Module
show inventory for all chemicals of interest, calculate total amount in pounds (including liquids) for each chemical of interest, excludes inventory under concentration limit,
see press release
- Inventory Tracking
- preloaded chemical catalog, barcode technology, track consumption, surplus list, reduce waste, custom search forms, custom access restrictions, total quantity reports for custom dates
- MSDS Archive
- preloaded > 23,000 documents, built-in reports to keep archive current
- NFPA Door Sign Creator
- access sign information online, allow users to manage & print their own signs
- Emergency Response Reports
- specialized reports including real time total quantities of flammable liquids, oxidizers, water reactants, and more
- Hazardous Waste Tracking
- request removal forms, pickup reminders, waste history reports
- Radioactive Usage Log
- track total radioactivity by site & user, view historical radioactivity reports, assign site & user limits, store permits online, check available to order amounts, manage disposals, manage decay & store drums
- Compliance Reporting
- create custom report forms & assign users to fill out reports on scheduled intervals, define alert conditions that automatically notify compliance officers
- Biological Inventory
- auto derive BSL ratings from assigned risk group factors, search biological fact sheets
- Administrative Modules
- create unlimited users with assigned roles, generate custom reports with SQL, broadcast messages to CEMS users
As a resolution with the EPA to meet the requirements of an SEP, UNHCEMS® was created by UNH RCC in the fall of 2001. Since then, nine schools have adopted UNHCEMS®. In 2007, UNH released a new version allowing sites to download and run the server component locally.
To determine if UNHCEMS® is right for your institution, read this document, view the tour guide, sign up for the demo, and share your experience with others at your institution.
A private web conference can be arranged for $500. The conference is done over a conference call with on-screen live demonstration of UNHCEMS. Representatives will be available to answer developer, security, billing, and licensing questions. If subscribing to UNH hosted CEMS, the $500 conference fee can be applied to the first subscription fee. The self host option does not have a discount. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with billing information and a list of available dates and times to arrange an online web conference.
Every effort has been made to make sure all information necessary in evaluating UNHCEMS is available on this web site. If you feel something is missing, or is in need of clarification, please email email@example.com with your questions. We often include questions asked by other institutions in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this web site.
Contact our license specialist for obtaining the latest license agreement.
UNH Hosted CEMS License
- + easy set up
- + system/security updates & CEMS upgrades are done by UNH
- + all data is backed up nightly
- + your server is located in a secure climate controlled data center at UNH
- - reliance on Internet connection to UNH
- - more expensive
Self Hosted CEMS License
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing.
- + less expensive
- + source code is included with rights to create site specific software modifications
- + complete control over your CEMS server and data
- - required server administration expertise
The agreement and above pricing are for a single geographical location (single campus) where UNHCEMS® has been installed for in-house chemical inventory management purposes. It does not include multiple campuses of a single entity, including satellite campuses.
Self Hosted Server Requirements
If considering this option, you should consult with your IT department regarding hosting fees.
Note: all CEMS software requirements can be met with free open source software.
- Windows 2000/XP or Linux
- Apache 2
- MySQL 5
- Perl 5
- SMTP service (IIS, sendmail, etc)
- Webalizer (optional web site statistics package)
UNHCEMS® does not have an absolute set of requirements because they vary based on number of simultaneous connections, network environment, and whether other OS services are running. Most sites will run CEMS on an existing Apache web server. You may decide to do the same and if performance becomes a problem, buy a dedicated server. Your CEMS license does not tie you to specific hardware. UNH hosts six CEMS sites on one server with the following specification.
- Intel 2GHz CPU
- 2GB of system memory
- 20 GB hard drive space
While CEMS provides a step by step install guide, it is required that institutions that choose to self host possess the following skills to successfully run a CEMS system.
- able to perform basic system administration (backups, OS updates, etc)
- Apache 2 web server experience, including setting up a new virtual host, and installing cgi scripts
- MySQL database administration support, including creating new users, assigning roles, backing up and restoring databases
- experience in installing Perl modules
- setting up a mail server
- installing automated tasks / crons
- able to follow Linux install & upgrade instructions, or Windows install & upgrade instructions
You may find the following information useful in deciding if UNHCEMS® fits into your institution. Feel free to contact email@example.com if you have questions.
- UNHCEMS® is installed as an Apache virtual host with Perl CGI modules that generate content from a transactional MySQL database
- source code is provided
- UNHCEMS® is not open source - you may not redistribute UNHCEMS®
- source code mods are encouraged and tools are included that will allow mods to work with later versions of the software
- sites creating source mods are not required to share those mods
- mods you create are not guaranteed to work with later versions of software
- custom mods allow competent Perl developers to expand their CEMS software in an unlimited means to provide LDAP integration, adding new fields to forms, etc..
- UNH can also help develop source mods
Any computer with Internet connection running a current standards based web browser such as Internet Explorer >= 7, Google Chrome, Firefox, or Safari is required to access CEMS. Each computer that will be used to add inventory, should also have a barcode scanner, and preprinted barcodes. Make sure the barcode type you choose is plastic coated and cold resistant. When ordering barcodes, use unique numeric Code 128 barcodes with at least 9 digits (preceding zeros are OK). UNHCEMS® customers can receive a discount when ordering from Barcodes West Please contact Jean Pang 206.812.5658 when ordering.
In addition to using generic barcode scanners, you can now scan directly
into your CEMS running on mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod) using a
bluetooth Socket Scanner.
This Socket Scanner should also work with your regular
desktop/laptop computer as long as your computer has bluetooth.
If your computer is older and does not have bluetooth, you can buy a
bluetooth 2.1 USB adaptor.
If you plan on using the NFPA Door Sign Maker, you may want to plan on getting door sign holders (module 8.11). UNHCEMS® door signs can be printed on regular 8.5x11 paper with any laser / ink jet printer.
From experience we have found the following procedure to work well for most sites. Feel free to consult us on how this plan can be altered to fit the needs of your institution.
Designate a Database Administrator
A CEMS database administrator is responsible for executing the integration plan, maintaining data in the system, providing on site user support & training, and will be the primary contact when requesting additional support from UNH. Most sites utilize existing staff to fulfill this need. The CEMS database administrator will need to be able to consume and disseminate information to the CEMS users, be timely in regards to responding to help requests, and technically savvy with computer technology & terminology. CEMS database administrators do not need expertise in SQL, programming languages, or server administration.
Define Chemical Inventory
Formulate a policy defining what groups of chemicals need to be tracked. From experience we recommend:
- barcode all chemical containers
- do not barcode biologicals (use the biologicals module instead)
- do not barcode cleaning supplies
- barcode reusable containers once
- barcode areas (walls, shelf) where there is static non fluctuating inventory (such as gas cylinders)
New Inventory Procedure
Set up one or more areas where new inventory can be inspected and barcoded. It is very important that all new chemical containers get into the system. The best way to ensure that this happens is to have trained users take delivery and enter the containers into CEMS. This requires that all users within your institution address their chemical orders to the receipt and transfer station. Most vendors and delivery persons will also route all shipments to a designated address. Each receipt and transfer station will need a computer meeting the client requirements.
Initial Inventory Procedure
The best way to collect an initial inventory is to gather workers in teams of two and inventory locations throughout your institution. Hiring and training students over their summer break is one of the easiest ways to approach this hurdle. One team member will be responsible for handling containers, and the other one responsible for data entry. The process of entering a container usually entails typing in a product number, verifying chemical information, then zapping a barcode. From past initial inventories, we have found that each team of two can inventory approximately 45 containers per hour. Make sure each team has a computer that can access the internet, a scanner, and a roll of barcodes. The initial inventory is also a great time to do lab clean outs.
Once the inventory is in the system, advertise CEMS to your institution. Set up some training sessions and require all employees working with chemicals to attend. You may also want to contact your human resources department monthly to get a list of new employees so that you can contact them. Once enough users have accounts, word will spread and users will start requesting accounts directly from the CEMS site.
Adopt New Modules
Once the inventory is in the system, start looking into how other modules such as NFPA Door Signs, Compliance Reporting, and Emergency Response may fit into your institution.
Assessing & Responding To Needs
After using CEMS for a period of time, institutions may discover they have additional needs than what the system provides. These needs can be met through custom source modifications. CEMS includes tools to make it easy to apply custom modifications to later versions. UNH can be contracted to help make these changes. See license for additional information.
The CEMS dashboard contains a My Responsibilities section that is custom tailored for each user. In this section, CEMS automatically displays to do tasks. For example the following reports, when enabled, may appear on a user's My Responsibilities. The success of a CEMS site depends on user response to their assigned responsibilities.
- NFPA Door Sign renewal notices
- compliance report reminders & overdue notices
- radioactive over limit reports
- missing MSDS report
- pending account requests
- software upgrade notices
- radioactive decay & store waste ready for disposal
- pending waste removal requests
- .. and much more ..
The designated CEMS database administrator is responsible for providing support to all CEMS users. When a CEMS database administrator needs help, they can contact UNH CEMS support. Phone and email support is available during normal work hours.
- What fields can be used to search the chemical inventory?
Barcode, chemical name, owner, manufacturer, product number, and whether the substance is available for surplus are all available from the inventory search form. Users can also view all inventory they have access to and then create a custom report that allows the user to show, filter, and sort any field in the system through the CEMS data viewer.
- Can I add new inventory with HandyCEMS?
No, we have found that adding new inventory on PDAs is too cumbersome since adding new inventory can require additional keyboard input.
- Can we integrate CEMS with our existing Portal / Login / LDAP / etc system?
Yes, through the use of CEMS source mods, applications can be integrated with CEMS.
- Can we use Oracle or another database with UNHCEMS®?
No, currently UNHCEMS® only is configured to work with MySQL.
- Can we license individual UNHCEMS® components (such as the chemical inventory module)?
No, all components are licensed together. This simplifies the software bundle and allows CEMS Database Administrators to try out new modules without having to purchase them first. Having all the modules installed will not clutter menus since CEMS only displays components the user logged in has rights to view.
- How is data secured in the system?
- CEMS can only be accessed from a custom list of allowed locations (IP address ranges). Users must also log in using a password to access anything other than the MSDS archive and some other misc. documentation. Authenticated users can only access data they have rights to view. This is accomplished in two ways. Either, an administrator has assigned a role to the user explicitly granting access, or the user is associated to the data in a manner that gives them implicit rights. An example of implicit access is if a user is the chemical owner, they would have owner rights to the container record. UNHCEMS® also provides additional implicit access controls through the use of access groups and lab associates. Members in an access group share owner rights to other member's inventory. Similarly, lab associates can also be assigned to chemical owners which grant them owner rights.
- How are upgrades handled if I choose to self host?
Notification of CEMS updates will appear on the dashboard of CEMS administrators. CEMS administrators will need to coordinate upgrades with their IT staff.
- What security precautions are in place if I choose to host with UNH?
CEMS sites hosted by UNH are located in a secure, temperature controlled, power conditioned machine room. All data is backed up nightly and backups are stored off site on a regular basis.
- How are upgrades and system maintenance handled if I choose to host with UNH?
We will do our very best to make sure your site is available during normal work hours. CEMS upgrades are scheduled either in the early morning or at night. Occasionally, we will need to schedule down time. In these cases, advance notice is given through the CEMS dashboard in the notices section. If the down time conflicts with an important event we will do our very best to work within the needs of our customers. Unscheduled down time will be handled as quickly as possible during the normal work week.
- Can we decide to not upgrade, and run an earlier version of CEMS when using UNH hosting?
No. Although depending on the circumstances, the upgrade can be delayed. This has never been an issue with our clients. Upgrades can contain important security patches which must be installed in order to keep all CEMS sites operational. We will make every effort to work through any issues to alleviate concerns an upgrade may cause to how a site uses their CEMS.
- Can you come to our site and help us do our inventory, or help with training?
No. To control our costs, we do not provide on-site service. We will provide email and phone support to your local CEMS database administrator. It is the job of this person to provide support and training to the other users.
- Do we have to barcode the inventory to use UNHCEMS®?
Yes. We have found the only way to effectively track inventory & consumption is if inventory is individually tracked.
- Does UNHCEMS® offer a purchasing module?
No. UNHCEMS® tracks inventory once it has arrived on location. Our users have indicated that a purchasing module is not necessary. Many of our users need to order from multiple vendors and all containers still require a person to affix a barcode and scan the container into the system.
- Will data be erased if a container is deleted?
When a container is empty, it is not deleted from the system. Instead it is marked empty which prevents it from appearing on the normal inventory search.
- Is there a limit on the number of containers, rooms, MSDS, users, etc that can be entered into the system?
Sure, there is a theoretical limit, but for all intents and purposes, it is not a concern. UNHCEMS® over active 700 users, 874 rooms, 106 buildings, 85383 containers, 23935 MSDS and performance is excellent even while hosting five other CEMS sites on the same machine.
- Are licensing limits imposed for the number of user accounts, simultaneous connections, MSDS, etc?
No, a CEMS license permits unlimited access for creating new accounts, connections, and data.
- Can we share our license with our campuses, schools within our district, etc?
Yes, but data between sites will be shared. For example, buildings names will need to be unique across all sites. Users will also have the ability to search inventory from other sites if the user has privileges to search all inventory. If you are self hosting, you may not run more than one live server per license.
- Some manufactures already have a barcode on the container. Can we use that one?
No. Those barcodes will not uniquely identify containers of the same product. Each container must have a unique barcode.
- Can we import our existing chemical inventory database?
Yes, If the database can be exported to a parsable text format (CSV, tab delimited, etc) containing at least the barcode, chemical name, and location.
- How does the surplus / adoption program work?
Instead of disposing chemicals, users may mark the container available for surplus. A user can only surplus containers they have owner rights to. Once a container is surplussed, other authorized users can adopt the container by clicking the adopt button on the chemical record. Instructions to complete the adoption are given and eventually the system reassigns ownership of the container. Users can search for surplus inventory on the search inventory screen.
- How is the MSDS archive updated?
Each new CEMS system will be deployed with over 23,000 MSDS documents. Each site will be responsible for uploading MSDS for new chemicals that are not already in the database. CEMS provides missing MSDS reports to users with the MSDS Manager role so that they can easily locate missing documentation. At UNH, we utilize trained student workers to keep our archive up to date.
- What is the Particularly Hazardous Chemicals List?
Each CEMS site can maintain a custom list of PHCs. Each PHC can have a fact sheet containing additional safety information. Fact sheets are like MSDS, but they are easier to read, and can include safety information specific to your site. UNH has classified 99 chemicals as PHCs with assigned hazards of acute toxic, reproductive toxic, select carcinogenic, and peroxidizable. PHCs are flagged throughout the system to increase awareness and safety. Each new CEMS site comes with a database of the current UNH PHC list. Sites can customize this list by adding & deleting chemicals or adding & deleting hazard groups.
- How can I customize my CEMS site?
CEMS database administrators can add custom HTML code for the related links, info, documentation, and notices pages. Custom background color/images can also be defined. CEMS source mods allow any other imaginable custom modification.
- Will CEMS automatically submit required reports for chemicals we must report on (i.e. EPA Tier 2 report)?
No, but CEMS will help you to construct the report. The reportable quantities module allows CEMS database administrators to find total mass or volume of substances for declared chemicals in the inventory over specified date ranges. The results can then be further filtered to remove substances that do not need to be reported on such as diluted mixtures, or totals less than the threshold.
- Can I create custom reports with SQL?
Yes. Database administrators can write their own SQL or they can utilize UNH CEMS support services to write the report for them. Once an SQL report has been generated, it is available to other sites through the CEMS support forums.
- What other software packages should we look at when picking an EMS?
- Cambridgesoft's ChemOffice
- Vertere's Inventory Manager
- Chemical Safety EMS
- What advantages does UNHCEMS® have when comparing to other software?
- no per user license fees
- no connection limits or charges
- no per MSDS fees
- designed for educational institutions
- accessed through a normal web browser, no client software installation
- designed to be expanded for custom needs
- server software will run on Linux & Microsoft Windows PCs
- client component only requires a web browser supporting current web standards
- each license comes with phone & email support
- easy software setup
- Can you show us some stats from other schools using UNHCEMS®?
View stats from four of our RCC hosted CEMS systems by clicking this link. These stats show the type of usage you can expect by comparing the number of users and rooms you have versus four other universities using UNHCEMS®.
- Can we use our existing barcode technology with UNHCEMS®?
Maybe. UNHCEMS® uses the most common barcode symbology - Code 39. Other symboloy may also work. Please contact us for more information. Barcode printing systems using this standard should work fine. However, we recommend users buy preprinted barcodes. We have found that the labels are less resistant to smudging. http://barcodeswest.com/ offers a discount for preprinted barcodes for UNHCEMS® customers.
Barcode scanners that connect to computers over USB or keyboard passthough connections should be compatible. Basically, all Code 39 compatible scanners that can report a barcode number as text into notepad will work just fine.
Some users have existing scanners that have a built-in mini computer. These are useful for taking inventory offline. UNHCEMS® does not have software that will run on these devices. As a more economical alternative, UNHCEMS® includes HandyCEMS software that allows users to utilize Pocket PC devices for doing room reinventories.
- How are chemicals flagged for reporting?
Chemicals are flagged by their CAS number or chemical name. The Reportable quantities module allows users to enter lists of CAS numbers and chemical names. UNHCEMS® can then calculate the total mass/volume for a date range. Quantities are calculated in real time with the help of standard unit conversions and densities supplied by the product catalog. Reportable quantity reports can be saved and executed at any time.
UNHCEMS® also includes the DHS Top Screen report. This report is predefined and automatically calculates total quantities for concentration limits.
- Does CEMS support RFID technology?
No. Eventually manufactures will ship containers with RFID technology embedded on product labels. Unlike manufacture product barcodes (UPC code), RFID tags will not only identify the substance, but also provide a unique identifier to track the container.
Implementing RFID technology at the endpoint by affixing custom RFID tags is not practical. RFID tags as of 11/2008 cost around $0.50 a piece in sets of 5000 and currently have a read range of less then four inches. These tags also do not include a human readable barcode or name of owning organization on the tag which makes it very hard for users to track their own inventory without everyone having their own RFID reader.
UNHCEMS will incorporate RFID technology in the future when manufactures start shipping containers with RFID technology or custom RFID tags become cheaper.