There is enormous pressure on healthcare organizations to reduce costs and find efficiency in the supply chain. Healthcare can take lessons from more refined logistics industry categories for cost effectiveness, just-in-time availability, and supplier/end-user communication.
There are five critical areas where healthcare can learn valuable logistics lessons.
1. Consolidating inbound: Major retailers don’t like receiving small parcel shipments. Ordering individual items may be necessary, so retailers use consolidation services to combine shipments. Often these are designated transportation carriers contracted by the retailer to run specific consolidation programs to receive shipments from a region of the country, bring them into their transportation stations, and combine them into larger shipments.
The individual shipments maintain their integrity and the shipping labels stay intact. Upon receipt, the retailer has one shipment to process, not thousands.
Think of a big box retailer’s product needs at each location. Consolidation services allow them to pay a percentage of shipping costs to the consolidation center, and then pay for one large shipment, rather than multiple small loads, providing meaningful cost savings in a tight margin business.
Given the time sensitive requirements of some healthcare shipments, consolidation would not work for emergency shipments. However, with proper planning for the ground shipment orders and the selection of a third party logistics provider (3PL), a consolidation-center approach could be beneficial.
2. Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN): In addition to consolidating shipping, retailers want to know what is on the way, making the receiving process more efficient; ASN does just that. ASNs go from the origin of the goods to the retailer electronically with key information about the shipment, including tracking information, carrier-specific information, and what the shipment contains with part numbers, quantities, pallets, and weights. Retailers can then plan inbound space and labor by looking at the inbound ASNs for the day. Once the shipment arrives, the ASN is used to process the receipt. Receivers compare contents and can electronically file any discrepancies.