When the pandemic quickly spread around the globe, labs everywhere witnessed unforeseen supply chain challenges, forcing lab managers to reevaluate their inventory management strategies. The supply chain disruption has impacted workflows in areas from research to manufacturing to transportation, all of which are critical parts of the biotech R&D research process.
How Has the Supply Chain Shortage Impacted Lab Operations?
Supply chain issues led to backordered products, a need for new suppliers, and a delay in access to new funding. The impact of the pandemic on the supply chain in labs changed the way lab suppliers function, and affected how labs order and stock supplies, causing some to stock up on limited items, and others to order smaller, more frequent shipments. Lab managers found creative solutions to unavailable supplies by using technology and widening their search from a previously exclusive supplier list.
How Labs Are Navigating Supply Chain Disruptions + Optimizing Lab Operations
The supply chain shortage has given many research labs an opportunity to rethink their lab operations, swapping out manual tasks for automated processes and leveraging technology to assist in efficient lab management.
With many labs losing revenue or funding during the pandemic, a priority on optimizing and using the latest software and solutions is becoming more and more essential to sustainable lab operations.
Here’s how lab managers are navigating the supply chain shortage using an agile lab management methodology.
1. Conducting Lab Supply Planning and Forecasting
In the initial stage, lab management and supply technology helps labs by foreseeing sales and demands for certain lab products and predict the supplies required and time taken for the completion. Based on past trends, a planner can be built to build a streamlined process for managing the supply chain and its uncertainties.
Here are tips for navigating supply chain disruptions and mitigating research delays using technology.
2. Utilizing Lab Product Information Management
To ensure smooth lab processes, product information management software manages all data related to lab supplies, like costs, vendor and supply information, and data specifications for lab materials and equipment. With all the important information in a single place, it’s easier for researchers and lab managers to keep track of inventory and identify issues with the supply chain early, then be proactive.
3. Implementing Digital Procurement and Document Management Software
Technology allows labs to automate payment-related functions like obtaining quotes from multiple vendors, handling supply management, keeping track of orders and cancellations, and others. By keeping all records of lab vendors and contracts, this software makes it easy to track important information and make it easily accessible.
For more information on eprocurement, read these tips to level up your procure-to-pay process.
4. Using Lab Supplier Network Management Software
Do you work with a complex network of lab suppliers and vendors, based in different locations and time zones? A supplier network management platform uses real-time data to manage vendor contracts, payment, authorization and verification of supplies and automates invoicing and payments.
5. Increasing Supply Chain Visibility
To identify gaps or risks in the supply chain, it’s important to have visibility in each area. Supply chain technology uses real-time data to identify demands and alert lab managers in case of a risk.
How Can You Digitize Supply Chain Management In Labs?
Optimizing lab processes requires infusing technology into nearly every workflow in the lab. Even cleaning and lab supply and equipment maintenance can use technology.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is created to replace human beings in completing manual, laborious tasks. AI bots can keep track of lab inventory, collect and interpret data and can work with workers to enhance and streamline their work process, improving overall lab productivity.
Through algorithms, AI can keep track of lab supplies, identify suitable vendors, and manage payment processes and eliminate human error and subjectivity.
Labs all over the world have adopted many forms of automation to eliminate manual jobs. Automation is an integral part of supply chain management as it optimizes many aspects of the lab and enhances the current workflow, by allowing human beings to focus on more meaningful tasks. Automation can be implemented in lab management workflows in areas like low inventory warnings, supply restock reminders, contract renewal reminders, and more.
3. Cloud Storage
Cloud software has made data more accessible to all and has become particularly useful for teams who work flexible schedules in the lab or don’t have much in-person overlap. Labs or individual researchers can upload their data on the cloud, store it for future use and share it with their team or peers around the globe.
Digital data allows researchers more flexibility to work remotely or from their homes. With established trust in cloud computing software, scientists can share real-time results and engage in discussions with their international colleagues or investors.