Digitization for optimising inventory and supply chain management

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The role of technology in the supply chain offers significant advantages. Minor hiccups in the inventory life cycle can delay research results or critical diagnostic information. The session on ‘How digitisation can optimise inventory and supply chain management to reduce the cost in the diagnostic industry’ explored the key role of technology for reducing costs at the 4th Elets Diagnostic Leadership Summit.

Dr Ravi Gaur, Principal Advisor Spice Health (Spice Jet Promoters Venture), Founder Dr. G Path Labs, Co-Chair CII Delhi Chapter Health Committee moderated the session and expressed that during Covid, the labs were working and there was continuous pressure from the government to diminish prices that kept us all going. Though many people were locked down at home working, healthcare-guided diagnostics were working more than 24 hours a day to make sure systems are up. He added that digitization can optimize inventory and supply chain management and reduce the cost of diagnostics.

He added that new-age labs are automating the supply chain to relieve staff frustration because the maintenance of documents manually is a big challenge. He stated that supply chains have acquired greater clinical integration than in the past. There’s more room for advancement and value & automation of supply chain processes is key to mitigating that frustration and improving data collection processes.

Also read: eAushadhi Setting benchmarks in Drug Supply Chain Management

He averred that human error is one of the biggest causes of stock issues and automation technology does not make mistakes. Having the right automation can deliver the right results, save money, space, and resources.

Mayank Madan, Partner, and Executive Director, Prognosis Laboratories conveyed, “Automation does help you save time, money, and effort, but only if they are at a premium. Not only knowledge but accessible knowledge plays power supreme. Automation is a very luring idea as the results are right out there. But with this luring idea, you stop realizing that you are in a diagnostic business and not automating diagnostics.”

He further added that automation now is inherent and is being widely acknowledged across the globe, not just in diagnostics but in every sector. He stated that they started automating the supply chain and inventory when they realized knowledge is no longer supreme power. They moved to an excel model-based platform which started evaluating the inventories and the supply chains across the labs. They even developed in-house procurement and receiving modules and tried their best to eliminate any kind of error.

The areas of improvement are covered by Supply Chain 4.0 including to make the supply chain faster, accurate, efficient and granular,” averred Mayank Madan. He further added that they are looking for automating the various aspects of supply chain and inventory management.

Dr. Pankaj Shah, Chief Executive Officer, Aspira Diagnostics said, “Procurement starts from preanalytical, analytical and postanalytical and digitization has reduced the costs in the post analytical stage. In expansion of labs, supply chain, inventory/stock has to be maintained and procurement became a challenge. For any lab, one needs to know their workload to procure machines and reagents.” He stated that digitization has assisted in avoiding the paperwork and automation helps them with auto consumption based on material.

Dhananjaysingh Rajput, Head of Procurement, Aster Clinical Labs LLP expressed, “As a procurer, one must look into each lab its top 20 and bottom 10 test parameters, and the relevant cost.” He added that this must also consider the reagent cost. There is a huge scope of analytics because it’s not just about whether the commitments are being met every month or not but the key role analytics can bring in that. He stated automation has a huge scope in bringing down the operational cost. He further added, “More on the vendor to vendor side, integration is happening, data is helping on the platform to platform, it enables us to give a best suitable platform for workload and also it suggests us the scale of the lab, types of computer machines one should have so that automation can help to analyze wastage.”

Chetan Kohli, Chief Operating Officer, Genestrings Diagnostic Centre Pvt Ltd commented, “We covered the entire decades of journey in a couple of months when the pandemic happened. We initiated from a paper to automation in those couple of months. A robust & strong inventory and supply chain management come into play in the molecular space. The management has to focus on having the supply chain at the forefront.”

He said when robust strong inventory management and supply chain management comes into action, it becomes challenging for medium and small-sized organizations because they do not have enough support. He further added that the challenges are the same both in molecular and pathology, it’s just that the cost of growth is slightly higher.

Abhinav Kalra, Director – Supply Chain / Procurement, SRL Diagnostics expressed that inventory and supply management play a crucial role across the entire length of an organization. He averred that it is driving organizational strategy and there are tremendous opportunities available there. “If we look at inventory and its supply management it cuts across all the three phases of a diagnostic which are pre-analytical analytical and post-analytical,” he added. He also talked about the importance of transportation and logistics is beneficial as it impacts the financial aspects of the organization, impacts the data, balance sheet which touches the cash flow and it drives the revenue cycle. He shared that the organization where he works has shifted from a relatively smaller scale to a larger scale with the onset of time and they have invested in system-wise ERP software.

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