Opportuning in

June 24, 2022

CHICAGO – Despite all the disruptions and problems the supply chain has endured throughout the pandemic, industry supply chain experts insist that this actually represents a great time to be in supply chain.

They may be mixed on whether the pandemic caused the tempest of current backorders, shortages and other supply chain woes experienced by the economy, or whether the pandemic merely brought to light underlying issues that have simmered under the cloak of organizational darkness for years.

Either way, the cast of industry experts who spoke at the Supply Chain Execution 2022 conference hosted by Reuters Events here in early June were extremely bullish on supply chain opportunities and the overall outlook of the industry and profession.

Other noteworthy observations from overarching themes:

• Companies are scaling back their pursuit of just-in-time (JIT) and LEAN management to cut costs and increase process efficiencies in favor of effective management of capacity limits and more local distribution hubs connected to retail centers that can move product faster through the chain to the customers.

• Meanwhile, speakers touted a heavier emphasis on the concept of fulfilment over the description of supply chain by moving solutions closer to the customer and/or streamlining customer service by working from the customer (and his/her increased demands/expectations) back. They stressed the need for speed and scale to deliver the seamless customer experience.

• Although several admitted a desire to return to the market dynamics of 2019, they acknowledged that as a pipe dream and instead will need to pivot from the present, armed with pandemic-gleaned experience added to their knowledge base and fortifying industry wisdom.

• Many speakers lamented the lack of and need for reliable data to help companies make more informed strategic and tactical decisions. This revelation seemed to deflate the long-held belief that industry was so far ahead of healthcare. Instead, supply chain operations in both areas struggle with a common denominator.

• Sustainability in nonhealthcare industries is here to stay, grow in importance and priority and largely will be driven by supply chain because they control packaging materials and procedures and transportation processes from manufacturers and distributors to retail outlets and consumers.

• Leaders from several logistical robotic companies agreed that robots won’t ever completely replace humans in logistics, but they ultimately will require humans to program, maintain and repair them. Instead, robots will function more as “cobots” that handle or reinforce certain tasks even as technological development elevates some models closer to android/humanoid status.

• Eliciting murmurs in the audience, Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General and CEO, U.S. Postal Service, told the crowd of several hundred attendees he merely needs more financial investment and time to turn the USPS into a package company to complete with the likes of DHL, FedEx and UPS, but one that also happens to deliver mail.

Against that nonhealthcare industry backdrop, Healthcare Purchasing News salutes the five finalists for the 2022 Supply Chain Department of the Year recognition. This year’s competition achieved a bit of internal history that will be highlighted and explained in this space next month when the winner is revealed.

As always, we feel it’s important that these five teams are recognized and honored for their contributions.

• Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY

• OU Health, Oklahoma City, OK

• Parkview Health, Fort Wayne, IN

• Sutter Health, Sacramento, CA

• UHealth/University of Miami, Miami, FL

We hope these five teams consider it a privilege to be nominated and to reach the finalist stage. We respect and salute their achievements and invite you to do the same for them and for all supply chain teams doing exemplary work – many of which may not be receiving the credit they deserve.

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