13 September 2016

Returns management in the medical industry

Our client is a market leader in medical devices and we are responsible for all UK deliveries and high-value parts as well as returns to and from Europe. We are a critical link in the supply chain, and key to our client upholding its strict SLAs.

Objective and brief

For our client, a first-time fix is imperative.

With more than 400 engineers working remotely with sensitive equipment, it is critical that the right part is delivered to the right location at the right time.

Our brief was to reduce inventory in the field and improve the experience our client offered to the health trusts and hospitals it works with. Previously, spare parts were being left in hospitals and unaccounted for, our client needed more visibility and transparency on the shipments it had out in the field, at an item level. Radical improvements were needed to reduce the risk of these lost parts.

The longer these parts took to be returned, the less time they could be in the field and in use, so our approach was turn the existing solution on its head and move parts directly from and to its warehouse in Germany over to the UK and back again.

While traditionally, it had delivered to a hospital stores, we re-engineered the supply chain to enable an in-room delivery at a time to suit an engineer and then made it easier for an engineer to return the unused items in a controlled and compliant fashion.

Our approach

Following detailed consultation with our clients’ engineers we crafted a bespoke solution that made the problematic returns management process, simple.


  • Devised a label that tracks returns and offers the processing engineer five delivery options to choose from
  • Linked outbound consignments at item level for a speedy return
  • Devised a system, which integrated with existing technology, to print unique-barcoded labels at source, via an engineer’s PDA
  • Put processes in place to record which part has been used and its condition
  • Set up systems to capture data in real time, completely visible through Carousel’s service and technology platform

The result

We were not only able to meet the brief, but exceed it.

High-demand items are now fulfilled through eight of Carousel’s UK forward stock locations in just hours and we now operate seven days a week to even tougher SLA demands. Our client even decommissioned a warehouse where goods were previously handled in-house.

Key benefits include:

  • Individual parts tracked via unique identifiers
  • Bespoke labelling to give full control of return and repair process
  • Reduced average return time to meet our clients’ KPIs
  • Delivery of a first time fix to vital equipment whenever possible.

Read more about the work we do for our clients in the Life Science sector.