Getting the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity to achieve perfect work flow – while minimizing waste – is the classic definition of supply chain lean technology.

Lean is perfect for making cars, selling beverages or moving commodities. But what about treating patients?

Proving Ground

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. is proving that being lean can improve patient care and save millions of dollars in the rapidly changing world of healthcare.

As supply chains evolve and adapt to meet increasing customer demands in a more dispersed and volatile business environment, the notion of supply chain visibility is emerging rapidly as a hygiene need.

Today, analysis of common supply chain challenges in the global distributed supply chain paradigm clearly brings out the need of three critical interventions across all supply chain processes – design, source, make, deliver and service, namely:

One of the most revolutionary changes in manufacturing and supply chain management was the shift to just-in-time (JIT) inventory. With this methodology, “carrying inventory” became virtual profanity; entire new industries and consultancies sprung up to help manufacturers shift to this leaner, more optimized operating model. Once the kinks were worked out, JIT helped manufacturers walk the fine line toward greater profitability. They were able to meet market demand while dramatically reducing their inventory and materials costs. No inventory and no stock-outs - what a dream!

No business hurdle is harder to jump than clear communication that’s in line with business strategy. This is true in retail, as supply chain communication is the difference between profit and loss. Logistics and the number of participants in the system make communication a challenge.

Due to the complexities, it’s amazing that products and materials from far away make it to retailers’ shelves.

The efficiency and reliability of modern supply chains is thanks to technology, leadership and sound strategy. But conversation enables and empowers participants throughout the supply chain to optimally accomplish tasks and meet goals.

Most B2B companies do not use price sensitivity to set prices because they assume they can’t. They think it’s out of their reach because the textbook approaches — such as price testing or win/loss conversion analysis — just don’t work very well in B2B.

Price testing is operationally challenging and the risk of losing customers during testing is too great. Conversion analysis requires excellent win/loss data, which is often unavailable or unreliable in B2B companies.

It is no secret that e-waste is one of the biggest issues facing the high-tech supply chain. Shorter product lifecycles, the proliferation of mobile devices, the complexity of these devices, and the Internet-driven media boom have dramatically increased the number of electronic devices produced each year. In turn, the amount of e-waste that is generated per year has dramatically increased as well.

According to a study published in 2012 by the Nicholas School of Environment at Duke University, in the United States 3 million tons of e-waste is produced every year. The study goes on to state that on a global basis, e-waste generation is growing by 40 million tons per year.

Trade globalization today is advancing at a rapid pace. It has become imperative for shippers across the world to market and supply products globally to sustain a competitive market.

Being the cheapest and safest option, container transportation has evolved as the largest mode of transportation for shippers to transport their goods across the globe. However, managing containers in the supply chain is becoming a challenge, resulting in high detention costs, rising inventories, vessel misses, and rejection of cargo by the buyers. These in turn result in significant losses for manufacturers, export houses, logistic service providers and other partners in the supply chain.

Issues between healthcare providers and third party suppliers have been well documented over the past few years. Because of the need to ensure adequate access to medical supplies, healthcare providers are particularly vulnerable due to their dependence on third parties to supply and distribute an array of products.

Relationships with outside entities such as vendors, sales agents, distributors, consultants, suppliers and business partners present potential compliance, reputational, supply chain and financial risks.

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