5 June 2017

How MedTechs can achieve complete supply chain visibility

Historically, regulations in the medical equipment industry has always been strict. Manufacturers have to comply with tight regulations and should inaccurate product information occur, companies could face penalties or even have to shut down their operations altogether. This focus has only intensified again following recent updates to EU regulations which has again shone a spotlight on the importance of visibility in logistics.
Our earlier blog examined the reasons why visibility is more important than ever in your supply chain, particularly following these regulation updates. This latest post looks at the specifics of how MedTech companies can truly achieve supply chain visibility; how you get there and what barriers companies need to be overcome. Simply read on to find out more.

What’s the issue?

The main reason why supply chain visibility is sometimes difficult to achieve is because it’s not a simple or a quick road to success – particularly if you’re doing it in-house or you have multiple supply chain providers. To achieve a truly end-to-end logistics solution, it’s vital that data is available right across the business and accessible by all relevant stakeholders, for complete visibility and control. Unfortunately however, in reality, the required information is often held in a series of silos, with little sharing occurring between departments.

It’s not common for these silos to have previously shared data with each other, and perhaps not with supply chain partners either, so it’s easy to see why there has been this disconnect in MedTech up until now. Furthermore, outdated or ‘off-the-shelf’ technology provisions doesn’t always enable the sharing or accessibility of data in this way.

The first step

For any complete end-to-end logistics solutions, an intuitive and integrated technology system will be at its heart. This technology hub, if deployed correctly, will make all data across the supply chain available for real-time data visibility. But how do you get there?

The first task companies need to tackle is their framework, which needs to be re-defined to:

  • determine the business’ technology requirements;
  • agree processes;
  • set up necessary training; and
  • agree gatekeepers throughout the supply chain.
  • ensure that it is scalable and can adopt change

For industries like MedTech, this framework will then need to be checked in reference to the specific products and the supporting regulatory compliance. This can take time and require you to seek expert support from an outsourced, lead-logistics provider who has experience in the sector.

Selecting the right technology

Once the framework of your supply chain is defined, you should have a good idea about the technology suite you need.

To create an accurate dashboard or ‘control tower’ that harnesses all of the information from across a supply chain, companies need to select the RIGHT technology that supports it with the agreed supply chain processes outlined in the framework. Importantly, this system must also integrate with all existing systems.

However, many lead logistics providers only offer ‘off-the-shelf’ or rigid technology solutions so achieving this objective can be easier said than done. Only by selecting a flexible provider that can tailor its technology to fit a company’s requirements can full integration and therefore complete supply chain visibility be achieved.

Take a long-term view

Costs, difficulty and speed to deploy are undoubtedly key challenging factors that companies face which impact the quest for supply chain visibility.

It’s important however that these factors are considered within the realms of a long-term rather than a short-term strategy. For many manufacturers, when faced with cost limitations and time-poor staff, the easy route is to concentrate on the short-term goals, yet this will mean that complete visibility will never be achieved.

The need for visibility is only set to increase for industries like MedTech given the new regulatory measures being put in place by the Government and industry bodies. These regulations will squeeze budgets more than ever, while resource for internal change is also likely to be deployed elsewhere. To ensure competitive advantage is maintained or to even get ahead of the game, companies need to take action now to ensure they are not only compliant with new regulations, but also future-proofed for the challenges and increasing customer demands of what’s up ahead.

If you’re interested in increasing visibility or developing a strategy to create a completely end-to-end logistics solution, then a lead logistics partner like Carousel can help. Our in-house team of technology experts can help you create the solution you want, without the need to compromise with an ‘off the shelf’ IT system or a rigid set of services.

Unlike others we’re completely flexible and all our solutions are personalised to meet your and your customers’ needs.