Navigating supply chain disruptions has been a top priority for lab managers and procurement teams over the past few years. As lab teams plan their 2022 experiments and lab budget, for a third year in a row they have to factor in the continued supply chain disruptions and the impact of COVID-19 and its variants.
Only now, scientists are three years smarter and have developed a better understanding of the new ways to manage lab supplies. They have taken the time to develop lab supply research strategies and are utilizing digital procurement tools that allow for science and innovation, even during times of global uncertainty
While pipette tips may not be in as extreme of a shortage as they were in the start of the pandemic, scientists still need to stay updated with tactics for approaching ongoing and upcoming supply chain shortages as they occur in the years to come.
Here’s how teams can continue to conduct experiments during ongoing lab supply chain disruptions and be smart about purchasing strategies to stay on track towards research milestones.
How to Manage Ongoing Experiments During Lab Supply Chain Disruptions
The biggest concern facing lab managers, scientists, and procurement teams during this time of mass supply chain disruptions is whether or not they are able to continue planning and executing experiments. The good news is, with the right mindset and procurement strategies, lab teams can take more of the process into their own hands and continue uncovering new results.
Here are the steps that you can take to plan, manage, and execute your experiments despite ongoing supply chain disruptions in 2022.
1. Always Be Conducting Lab Supply Research
Keeping your eyes on the lab supply market will help savvy lab managers to be aware of potential shortages or new items as soon as they are announced. Innovations in the lab supply market could open the door for new research or more efficient or cost-effective ways of conducting research. When faced with supply chain disruption and subsequent frustrations, procurement teams should resist the urge to abandon lab supply research and instead embrace new methods.
For example, if you regularly utilize the same vendor for your primary lab supplies, materials, and ingredients, take this as an opportunity to branch out and research smaller, emerging, and local lab suppliers using a lab supply marketplace.
2. Add Additional Suppliers
Supply chain transportation bottlenecks most commonly occur when individual supplies are overwhelmed while fulfilling orders. To ease the strain on such suppliers, lab managers and procurement teams should take this as an opportunity to branch out and work with new suppliers. By keeping multiple suppliers in play procurement teams are allotted greater flexibility during the procurement process.
When searching for additional suppliers, look for those who:
- Are transparent about their supplies and costs
- Over-communicate about shipping delays
- Offer updated shipping dates
3. Stock Up on Supplies Early and Bulk Purchase Lab Products
One of the easiest ways to avoid experiment delays due to supply chain disruptions is to stock up on supplies as early as you can. Many consumable lab supplies — such as everyday use items like petri dishes, test tubes, and pipette tips — can be ordered in quantities lasting up to six months.
Before placing bulk orders there are a few steps you should take to ensure you are ordering the most essential supplies:
- Review upcoming experiments and reschedule based on significance
- Create a master inventory list of all supplies, materials, and equipment needed for upcoming experiments
- Reassess lab storage space in order to determine how much can be allocated for bulk supplies
- Determine which supplies can be ordered in advance
- Review stock size and expiration dates of existing supplies
Pro tip: Unable to order a certain amount of a given product from a certain lab supplier due to supply limitations? Try ordering several smaller orders — they may be able to fulfill those. Or, you can order several smaller orders from several suppliers. This helps labs stay on track with research timelines.
4. Plan Experiments Far in Advance
The further in advance that experiments are planned, the further in advance that supply orders can be placed. Keeping COVID-19 precautions in the lab in mind (such as social distancing and scheduling restrictions), plan experiments as far in advance as possible based on task duration time.
Once lab managers have established their upcoming experiment schedule procurement teams can begin determining their supply needs. For example, back to back experiments that use similar or adjacent supplies can be consolidated during ordering.
Here’s how to plan experiments from home and maximize time in the lab.
5. Remain Open to Product Alternatives
The final tactic for navigating supply chain disruptions is to rethink the supplies you are ordering. Of course, there will be some materials that come with no clear replacement. However, there are alternative methods, pieces of equipment, and even lab supplies that can be used when typical supplies are unavailable. Many lab supply marketplaces offer scientific experts on staff who can recommend product alternatives for complex lab needs.
Additionally, take supply chain disruptions as an opportunity to rethink your procurement patterns as well. For example, break your orders into smaller quantities for faster shipping times or (if space allows) order bulk quantities of consumables to avoid placing just-in-time orders.
Follow the Latest Supply Chain Status Updates
The best way to ensure you are prepared to navigate ongoing supply chain shortages is by operating off of the most recent supply chain status updates. Subscribe to This is ZAGENO to stay up-to-date on the state of the supply chain in 2022.