Enterprises everywhere are realizing that having a transparent supply chain is key to cultivating stronger connections with consumers, building trust, responding more quickly and effectively when issues occur and driving improvements. Sharing certain information with trading partners and consumers often yields many benefits.
Supply chain transparency is generally comprised of these concepts: visibility and disclosure. Alexis Bateman, research scientist and director at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, definesvisibility as “accurately identifying and collecting data from all links in your supply chain,” and disclosure as “communicating that information, both internally and externally, at the level of detail required or desired.” Visibility also refers to B2B data sharing within the supply chain; enhanced visibility leads to more efficient collaboration, transaction processing and problem solving.
When it comes to medical device supply chains, ensuring visibility and disclosure is especially critical — as any disruption or defect can cause disastrous effects or prevent consumers from receiving the right devices to help manage their health. Here are several elements to take into consideration when strategizing on how to build a more transparent supply chain for medical devices.
1. Develop a plan for evaluating your suppliers.
Creating a plan to evaluate your suppliers is key. Centered on the need to align with industry regulations, this kind of evaluation is critical for ensuring transparency in sourcing, moving raw materials, shipping and packaging products, preventing defects, certifying compliance and more. To maximize your supply chain capabilities and minimize costs, having an evaluation plan helps you proactively address any potential issues beforehand, so you don’t have to spend more money reactively fixing a problem after the fact, down the line.
2. Work with suppliers that have specific experience with medical devices.
When it comes to the medical device industry, manufacturers cannot work with just any supplier: having a supplier partner with in-depth experience and esoteric knowledge on the minute details regarding the industry is critical. Suppliers that understand regulatory requirements and other restrictions are typically well-prepared with systems designed to ensure compliance for manufacturers.
3. Perform regular audits, as well as measuring and monitoring.
After suppliers are identified and qualified, you should institute a structured process for measuring and monitoring supplier performance — which should be conducted on a regular basis, as opposed to a one-time occurrence. Regularly auditing suppliers helps you to consistently understand what is happening with your supply chain and avoid any surprises. It’s critical to verify that the processes and systems you implement in your supply chain are working.
4. Collect, store and share data about your supply chain and logistics.
Supply chain transparency is dependent upon actively monitoring operations and collecting data that illustrates how your products are configured and manufactured. Supplier partners that deliver data on product inventory, end-of-life dates for connected software and hardware, overall device history records, and shipping and logistics information help remove any unnecessary stress and effort — providing you with simplified and straightforward insights into your products. Likewise, you should be able to collect this information from suppliers, compile it and quickly pass it on to your shareholders, consumers and any other parties involved in the efficiency of your supply chain.
5. Create and maintain open lines of communication.
You and your suppliers should not operate in silos; if you have any questions about components, products, configurations, etc., your suppliers should be prepared to answer and have the appropriate data to back up their response. Whether through customer portals, digital quality management or order management systems, having open communication systems such as these is essential for strengthening supply chain transparency and growing creative collaboration. Engaging through open lines of communication with your suppliers ensures continuity and efficiency. Additionally, suppliers who take part in validation programs also contribute to the production of valuable supply chain outcomes.
Overall, supply chain transparency is significant for manufacturers, suppliers and consumers alike. Having visibility into all aspects of your product is necessary for maintaining a supply chain that operates without issue, is effective and delivers the agreed-upon results for your medical device manufacturing. Likewise, supplier partners who disclose data and information that can help you plan for the future and maintain a constant stream of deliverables for your consumers is something that can make or break your supply chain.
To find out more about Dynamic’s transparent supply chain solutions and how we can be your supplier partner for medical devices, contact us at 866-257-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tami Schultz is the Vice President of Business Development at Dynamic Computer Corporation, where she leads the sales and account management functions with her expertise in developing and executing strategy. As a service outsourcing veteran, Tami has a proven track record in leading complex national and global service programs that leverage technology to enable business objectives while growing market share. She is also a member of Michigan Women in Technology and the Supply Chain Leaders in Action – Women in Action Committee.