Sunday, February 26, 2006

Must Have Features of a Clinical Supply Chain

(Note: Yesterday, I read this interesting article by Doug Meyer in Supply and Deman Chain Executive about Clinical Supply Chains. I thought that maybe it would be interesting for you as well, so below you can read a shortened version of the article with some moderations.)

Selecting a clinical supply chain solution presents unique challenges that vary greatly from generic supply chain management requirements. All too often companies try to adapt legacy systems or work with the leading supplier only to find out that their expertise doesn't extend to information systems used to manage clinical trials.

As a result, chief information officers (CIOs) typically face three scenarios: 1) facing the realization that the legacy “upgrade” doesn't work and starting the request for proposal process over again; 2) continuing with the leading supplier through years (and often millions of dollars) of customization; or 3) working with a specialist in developing solutions specifically for clinical supply chain management.

Regardless of the starting point, when selecting a software package that will be used for the clinical supply chain there are specific features that should be incorporated into the system to maximize benefit. CIOs can save considerable time and headaches if they keep these in mind as they consider a solution.

Features for the Clinical Supply Chain

In order to comply with Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) standards, a clinical supply system should be able to manage resources within the clinical manufacturing and packaging processes, using features such as recipe and process management, electronic batch records and resource scheduling.

A clinical supply system that supports the printing of labels would also help ensure the ability to identify and control the product at every stage of the process — from receipt of materials, to dosage of the study subject, to destruction.Getting the right drug to the right patient at the right time is critical during a clinical trial too. Oftentimes however, the clinical supply chain is prey to lags caused by the movement of paper documents from one actor to the next.

One powerful function of a clinical supply chain software package should be the provision of electronic work routing and automatic e-mail notifications to users of tasks to be completed. Various parts of the clinical supply chain are oftentimes controlled by separate systems from unrelated vendors. Ensuring that a chosen system has the ability to interface with other applications would help increase its effectiveness.

It goes without saying that any system managing inventory in the pharmaceutical industry must meet many standard quality assurance requirements and several crucial regulatory controls in the clinical supply process, this includes the CFR 21 part 11 compliance guidelines set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With these features in mind, CIOs will be well equipped to ensure the solution they select delivers the performance they need without the headaches and delays associated with costly upgrades and customization.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Higher rate of acquisitions in Supply Chain solution providers: Case of i2 Technologies

As the software market matures, larger companies look to gain customers through acquisition, and smaller companies have trouble getting critical mass, as the spate of deals in the last 18 months indicates. Among the big ones, i2's recent strategic moves can be mentioned as a good example: The once high-flying company stumbled badly at the end of the technology bubble, but under CEO Mike McGrath has now achieved three consecutive profitable quarters and dramatically improved its balance sheet. Once a frequent acquirer, RiverOne “is the first acquisition for i2 in several years,” noted McGrath.

The company announced this week it has acquired the assets of RiverOne, primarily an on-demand provider of software solutions that offer visibility, ecommerce and collaboration capabilities to the contract manufacturing market. What attracted i2 was both the multi-tier nature of the functionality, and RiverOne’s customer base, said Mike McGrath.“It’s the multi-tier nature that’s really different,” McGrath said.

“Our current products can do some of that, but RiverOne has a number of live, satisfied customers.”Multi-tier visibility or collaboration means the “channel master,” and perhaps other supply chain participants, can collaborate and have visibility beyond their direct trading partner relations. So, for example, an electronics OEM can see the purchase commitments and delivery status of the components purchased from suppliers by its contract manufacturer. Dell and other electronics companies have been building such capabilities for several years, though it is far from universal, and still relatively immature in its application even in most companies embracing a multi-tier solution.

“We believe collaboration is still very immature in the marketplace, but will be an essential element of next generation supply chain,” said McGrath.While the RiverOne solution has been targeted primarily to the electronics and contract manufacturing market, supply chain changes in other industries, such as offshoring and outsourcing, means these kinds of capabilities likely will also be of value there.Acquiring just the assets (software, intellectual property, etc.) means i2 will have to re-sign existing RiverOne customers and hire RiverOne employees. “We’ve had a lot of success on both counts in the last 2 days,” McGrath said.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Able Energy, Inc. Optimizes Its Supply Chain for Renewable Fuel Products

Able Energy, Inc. ("Able") announced today that it has agreed to sign an agreement with TransMontaigne Inc., a leading supply chain management and fuel logistics company. The agreement allows Able Energy to optimize its fuel supply chain, accelerating distribution of biodiesel, a clean-burning, soy-based alternative fuel product, Business Wire reported.

As a result of the alliance with TransMontaigne, Inc., Able Energy, Inc. is taking a giant step forward in advancing the company's commitment to conservation, energy efficiency, and environmental health. With access to the TransMontaigne fuel supply chain platform, Able Energy Inc. will be able to provide its customers with fast, efficient and reliable access to biodiesel fuel.

Biodiesel is a clean-burning, environmentally friendly fuel alternative produced from domestic renewable resources. Biodiesel can be used efficiently in diesel engines and in home heating oil applications. Derived from natural oils like soybean oil, biodiesel meets the rigid specifications set forth by ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials). While biodiesel contains no petroleum, it can be used in its pure form or blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a cleaner burning biodiesel blend. Studies show that the use of biodiesel in conventional diesel engines and home heating applications can substantially benefit the environment and human health. Biodiesel has been shown to emit lower levels of carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, and particulate matter compared to conventional diesel fuel. In addition, exhaust emissions such as sulfur oxides, sulfates (major components of acid rain), and aromatics are essentially eliminated in biodiesel.

Able Energy will offer a biodiesel blend for use in home heating applications supplied by TransMontaigne Inc. In addition, Able Energy's acquisition candidate, All American Plazas, Inc. has commenced use of a new biodiesel fuel blend also supplied by TransMontaigne Inc. at its All American Plaza truck stops in Doswell, Virginia, along with Bethel and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
"Biodiesel represents an exciting opportunity environmentally and economically for the region," states Able Energy CEO, Gregory Frost, "and it can be used in existing engines without compromising performance." Frost adds, "We're using a similar blend for our home heating oil business through Able Oil and We're partnering with TransMontaigne because its Navitus(TM) Supply Chain Platform is a valuable tool and because TransMontaigne is a leading supplier of BQ9000, the gold standard of biodiesel fuel quality."

Executive Vice President of TransMontaigne, Rick Eaton, states, "Able Energy is to be commended for leading the way in bringing clean-burning, environmentally friendly fuel alternatives into the retail market. We applaud Able Energy for demonstrating industry-leading vision and innovation in creating a cleaner environment, both at home and on the road."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Data Pool Raising Hong Kong's Profile as Asian Logistics, Trading Hub

GS1 Hong Kong and GXS today announced the official worldwide launch of the GS1 HK Data Pool, designed to enable enterprises in Hong Kong and the Pan Pearl River Delta (PPRD) region to exchange accurate, GS1 standards-compliant product information with their global trading partners, Supply and Deman Chain Executive reported.

GS1 Hong Kong (formerly known as the Hong Kong Article Numbering Association or HKANA) is a not-for-profit industry support organization that helps Hong Kong enterprises optimize business efficiency through the provision of global supply chain standards and enabling technologies.

The GS1 HK Data Pool, Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN)-certified and based on the GXS Data Pool Manager (DPM), is one of 26 GDSN-certified data pools worldwide. It is intended to serve as a global gateway for enabling more efficient international collaboration between manufacturers and their retailer trading partners, with the goal of achieving improved business processes for globally sourced goods and services.

Trading Data

The Data Pool allows trading partners to exchange consistent data, based on common global standards of Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) and Global Location Number (GLN), with trading partners around the globe. GXS technology enables the GS1 HK Data Pool to interoperate within the GDSN to synchronize information about products with other global data pools in conjunction with the GS1 Global Registry, a global data directory managed by GS1.

According to GXS, the GS1 HK Data Pool serves as both a source and recipient data pool, and it provides enterprises with a platform to exchange accurate and up-to-date product information compliant with GS1 System standards. Companies connecting to GS1 data pools can benefit from fewer out-of-stocks, increased speed-to-market for new product introductions and reduced logistics costs, GXS said.

"The impact of this global initiative on global e-commerce will be profound," said Anna Lin, chief executive of GS1 Hong Kong. "The GS1 HK Data Pool enables trading partners to collaboratively achieve increased efficiency, improved productivity and superior economic benefit within and across sectors electronically."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Microsoft collaborates with DHL on XBox case

For video gamers eagerly anticipating the launch of Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming platform last year, the wait ended with the November 22 U.S. product launch and the December 2 European rollout of the new game console.

But for Microsoft and its long-time logistics partner DHL, the game's debut marked the culmination of a year's worth of planning and execution dedicated to one objective: moving thousands of Xboxes across three continents, on time and on schedule, into the hands of the game's fans.

The lesson: an agile supply chain, employing a variety of transportation modes, is a critical component of ensuring a smooth global product launch.

Long-time Collaboration

"Microsoft set specific deadlines and promised the world it would meet them," said Jane Sabin-Pass, global customer manager for DHL Global Customer Solutions. "In so doing, Microsoft challenged DHL to think creatively and to anticipate the unpredictable scenarios that often accompany a major product launch during peak season. The precise delivery schedules were a testament to the skill of both companies to link the global supply chain with flawless accuracy and transparency."

The Xbox 360 project drew upon 15 years of collaboration between Microsoft and DHL, which included the rollout of the first Xbox console in November 2001. According to DHL, knowledge of each other's systems and processes played a vital role in expediting Xbox 360 launch schedules, reducing implementation lead times and meeting strict deadlines.

Launch planning began in November 2004 when both companies mapped out shipping strategies and laid the foundation for the information technology (IT) network that would serve as the project's central nervous system. By August 2005, with the first of the Xbox 360s ready to ship, the project shifted into high gear.


UPS Supply Chain Solutions wins excellence award

World's largest package delivery company UPS Supply Chain Solutions, the supply chain unit of UPS has been awarded the “Excellent Partner Award“ by Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, a technology leader and manufacturer of hard disk drives.

The award is the company’s highest award for suppliers, which recognizes UPS SCS for its global logistics services.

UPS SCS was the only logistics company cited among award recipients.

UPS SCS has provided a single point of contact for Hitachi GST's finished goods distribution network since Hitachi GST was founded three years ago.

This includes transportation, distribution and fulfillment services for all of the Hitachi GST companies’ manufactured goods produced in China, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and San Jose.

In addition, UPS SCS provides return and warranty services from UPS SCS service parts facilities.

Singapore serves as the global base for these UPS SCS services.
UPS SCS also provides many value-adds for transportation including shipment visibility and customs brokerage. The distribution centers have capabilities for testing and reconfiguration.

UPS SCS also manages more than 60 Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) hubs around the world that support Hitachi GST's key customers.

”UPS SCS has provided tremendous value to their business, helping them to streamline their supply chain solutions, increase their efficiency and enhance service levels to their customers.

This alliance is very important to us and they are happy to show their appreciation with the ‘Excellent Partner Award,’” said Clint Dyer, vice president, operations, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Inc.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Penske Truck Leasing Selects TelaPoint's Petroleum Supply Chain Solution

TelaPoint, Inc., a leading Internet supply chain software provider for the Convenience Store and Petroleum industry, announced today that Penske Truck Leasing Company, L.P. is implementing its TelaFuel(TM) Internet software suite of products including Smart Replenishment, Smart Buying and Smart Invoicing to streamline and manage its fuel operations.
According to Yahoo! Finance, Penske Truck Leasing will use TelaFuel, a browser-based application suite, to improve management of fuel purchasing, replenishment and invoice reconciliation operations across more than 450 locations in North America. With TelaFuel, Penske expects to achieve significant benefits including the ability to lower fuel procurement costs, optimize fuel inventory management, better coordinate 3rd party transportation services and streamline supplier and freight invoice reconciliation operations.

"TelaPoint is very pleased to be a technology provider to Penske Truck Leasing and is committed to assisting Penske in achieving their strategic petroleum objectives," said TelaPoint's President, Mike Dahlem. "Leading global companies such as Penske clearly recognize the enormous potential to increase business process efficiencies, lower costs and to develop and enhance relationships with new and existing trading partners."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Are Supply Chain IT systems so costly to run and maintain?

Miya Knights from Computing has written an article recently, regarding the results of a survey between 400 European and American companies. In the survey 26 percent of the companies said that SCM solutions are so costly and if they invest large amounts of money on these solutions, they won?t have enough money to spend on the business itself.

Actually a critical question arises here: Should the managers invest in buying these solutions or not? I myself think, the answer depends on the size of the company and also a concept which I call SCM Readiness.

Let's start with the Readiness. I think that achieving a level of maturity in implementing and using IT systems is a predecessor for buying a SCM solution. Otherwise, it may lead to more frustration and high costs. I will come back to this idea of maturity later in the next articles.
And about the size, yes, maybe it's to costly for small businesses to run such solutions and they'd better use some simple soft wares instead.

So, it's better to look at these issues too before buying these expensive complex packages.