Seamless experiments require reliable, timely access to supplies at a reasonable price. A researcher’s time should be spent on the bench, not tracking down supplies. A recent ZAGENO study uncovered three problematic life science marketplace supply chain trends: skyrocketing backorder rates, longer lead times, and an increase in new suppliers added by procurement. Fortunately, there are solutions available to help R&D procurement navigate through these disruptions.
3 Supply Chain Life Science Marketplace Insights
- In biopharma R&D, lab supply backorder rates increased 5x between Q4 2019 and Q2 2021.
Backorders occur when a product is unavailable from the supplier and therefore cannot be supplied.
- Lead time for products increased 200% between 2019 and 2021.
Lead time refers to the supplier’s schedule from order confirmation to order ship date.
- Biopharma R&D teams added up to 50% new suppliers in 2021 to support scientific innovation and address product availability issues.
The most demanded lab supplies in 2021 were plasticware, glassware, and filtered tips.
Supply chain risk is an inherent part of research work. While this risk can’t be eliminated, it can be reduced by having proper digital procurement systems in place. Scientists can address backorders and lead times through proper planning and strategy.
5 Tips to Navigate Supply Chain Disruptions
- Plan ahead. Scientists need to forecast experiment requirements and place orders as soon as possible to allow for shortages or transportation bottlenecks.
- Order bulk quantities. If space allows, lab managers should order enough consumables to last for three to four months and shift away from just-in-time order strategies.
- Break order into small quantities. If storage is an issue, place multiple small orders to allow for faster shipping time.
- Keep multiple suppliers in play. The procurement process should offer scientists the flexibility to order from multiple suppliers when needed.
- Seek out transparent suppliers. Suppliers differentiate themselves from each other through transparency and over-communication about delays and new ship dates.
Having a procure-to-pay (P2P) system in place with punch-outs isn’t enough to manage supply chain disruptions. When dealing with longtail spend, scientists must still manually request products that are not in the current core catalogs. R&D procurement is then responsible for assessing supplier quality, ensuring product delivery, managing supplier relationships, implementing where necessary (such as negotiation and account set up), and overseeing total spend.