One lesson to come out of recent global disruptions is that IT is at the heart of ensuring that essential equipment flows through supply chains across the globe. Suppliers, including ourselves at Healthcare 21, have invested heavily in IT systems in in the past decade; an investment which has enabled hospitals to continue during these challenging times.
If we take Covid-19 as an example, IT systems and the data that these capture have proven to be a vital asset in maintaining the transportation of vital equipment. However, this has been happening long before the pandemic took hold.
For instance, we have seen through our work with LifeCell and latterly, Allergan, how utilising the latest technology at our fingertips brings significant benefits. Having effectively managed the stock levels of hernia meshes for LifeCell for several years, our role expanded further to include Allergan’s £4m catalogue of breast implants when the two merged together.
Such a vast portfolio, containing some 650 individual items, meant we needed to innovate and make sure our processes were up to the task. This led us to develop Asset Track, our own app designed to replace paper inventory checklists and monitor stock levels through the use of a barcode scanner and smartphone. Data collected by these devices is able to be fed back from the hospital directly to the warehouse, where decisions about supply can made swiftly.
Consequently, the hospital can make the best choice from both a cost and demand point of view quickly and efficiently. Even during Covid-19, we have still been able to maintain communication with our customers about their stock levels and in the absence of physically checking consignment stock, finding alternative ways to maintain the right balance between having too much stock and not enough.
But what about the future?
Whilst supply chains continue to assess and adapt to the impacts of Brexit and Covid-19, what has become clearer is that without real-time information– whether that is through Cloud software or tracking shipments – we as a country would not have been able to keep vital medical equipment moving. As the consequences of Brexit start to emerge, the EU supply chain (the second largest after the USA) needs to be ready for whatever these might entail.
And ensuring that systems currently in place are delivering the most accurate, up-to-date figures about local stock levels, alongside understanding where additional resources might come from, is the first piece of the puzzle. We are fortunate to live in an age where technology has a solution for almost any issue and, according to Garter Research, disruptions can act as a catalyst for making the supply chains of the future more agile and have greater visibility into customer operations.
Serving many global brands, we at HC21 continuously work to provide our customers the clearest supply and demand picture possible.
And, we have recently released a report that examines these issues, Brexit, Covid-19 and builds a holistic picture of the European supply chain. Read the full guide here, or contact us for further information about our supply chain services.