Innovations in supply chain technology and the demand for a seamless, efficient, cost-effective and targeted communication path have become critical to global business. The supply chain is now the core foundation and the heartbeat of economic development.
Increasingly, global producers are reaching beyond populated, powerhouse countries, and beyond Fortune 500 companies, to developing supply chain networks within smaller regions, with smaller suppliers, distributors and end-users.
Supply chain solutions and use have built traction in industries beyond manufacturing and distribution, seeing great gains in education, construction, retail, nonprofits and especially in healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
As warehousing and distribution costs rise and margins become slimmer with a shrinking global economy, third-party logistics (3PLs) and warehouse automation solutions are helping businesses streamline their global supply chain, integrating and more easily managing everything from invoicing to inventory.
Linking the Cayman Islands
In Cayman, the critical links provided by supply-chain technology are essential and widespread, as illusrated by Seaboard Marine, for one. Owned by Seaboard Corp., Seaboard Marine in Cayman is one of the primary carriers for the island. Working with state-side suppliers and a variety of businesses on island, the company is part of a global supply-chain effort that allows a broad network of construction companies, groceries, mom-and-pop stores, and retailers, among others, to effectively maintain their inventory.
“Most people do not think of the term ‘supply chain’ when they are ordering from us,” says Juliet Osbourne, Seaboard’s sales and marketing manager.
“The term ‘supply chain’is very academic.”
What customers see, however, is that they have a need for certain products and that Seaboard can ensure what Osbourne describes as “the best rate and quickest delivery.”
Thus, Seaboard has a partnership approach with its customers, Osbourne says. As the company operates a fleet of more than 40 vessels and serves more than 35 ports, it must first understand the customer’s needs and all of the technicalities involved in the supply-chain efforts.
Osbourne wears many different hats – as most managers in the supply-chain and logistics fields do.
Within the workings of the global supply-chain, all comes full circle, she explains. Seaboard carries the supplies that the local contractors need and works to bring those supplies to the island. These are the kinds of logisitical matters that supply chain management handles efficiently and effectively.
Osbourne has a keen understanding of the complexities involved with shipping to the island. “Everything is a mad-rush to get here. Our job is to facilitate that as much as possible,” she says. “This all ties into the academic perspective of ‘supply chain.’ I go out and meet people and see how I can best work with them to get them the goods and supplies that they need.”
“When it comes to supply-chain management, I think LCL [less than a container load] is where the technology has greatly impacted Cayman. A lot of businesses offer consolidation businesses. Seaboard acts as a [third-party logisitics] for these businesses.. Customers can view their invoices and see what’s been delivered and what is available. The more we work with customers, the more we understand their business and are able to constantly communicate with their team in Miami to provide them the services and goods that they need.“
Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital recently chose Ronco Cayman as its health-care technology provider, to include the “supply chain complexities” of the hospital.
With an investment “in the seven figures,” according to owner and founder Dr. Steve Tomlinson, the hospital is using the technology to revamp its real-time electronic health record information to authorized users, and integrating all aspects of the hospital’s patient offerings under one so-called “electronic roof.” The system integrates patient care management (which includes appointments, scheduling, registration and transfer), clinical information support (pharmacy, laboratory, radiology and operating theaters), and the revenue cycle and supply chain of the hospital, according to Dr. Tomlinson.
“Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital views supply chain as the backbone of its informatics solution, and as such, critical to achieving the highest patient health outcomes,” according to a statement from Leon Schvartz, director, Special Projects Division, at Ronco. “The supply chain solution enables the hospital to streamline and standardize requisition, procurement and inventory activities.
“Coupled with metrics and reporting, it provides management with a birds-eye view of operations and related processes, allowing decisions to be made that ensure management rules and processes are adhered to” by buyers and asset custodians within the organization, Schvartz says.
“You need to look no further than the simple fact that the supply chain is second only to labor as relates to expenses incurred by healthcare providers today in the Cayman Islands (and no doubt, worldwide).”
Schvartz says that Chrissie Tomlinson “clearly understands that a better run supply chain reduces the cost of healthcare and increases positive patient outcomes.”
The supply chain solution deployed under Ronco’s supervision at Chrissie Tomlinson, he adds, “will improve upon already stringent guidelines in place by the management and its employees. End-to-end automation of purchase orders, requisitions and invoices will remove manual processes and will create critical connections across the organization.
“In addition, by taking supply chain data and turning it into information on supply levels and use, [the hospital] will get a better handle on how much product is needed and where or when, leading to increased efficiencies and decreases in loss due to wasted or lost supplies.”
The supply-chain ”module” that will be used at the hospital will make work easier for hospital personnel and will better accommodate patients by facilitating registration, scheduling, inpatient and outpatient management, pharmacy, laboratory, billing and claims processing, among other essentials.
In a project currently under development, Ascension Health recently partnered with Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals of India (Shetty Hospital in Cayman) to provide, among other things, supply chain management to the project, scheduled for completion of the first phase in February.
“Ascension Health has been working with Dr. Shetty for two years to explore ways to adapt his success at providing high-quality healthcare at low cost,” Anthony R. Tersigni, president and CEO of Ascension Health Alliance, said in a press release. The first phase of the Grand Cayman medical tourism campus will include 140 beds, operating theaters and other support facilities.
Survey underscores links
In an October 2013 global survey, Ernst & Young, which has offices in Camana Bay, found that “companies with evidence of strong ‘business partnering’ between the chief financial officer and the supply chain leaders report better results than those with a more traditional finance mode in place.”
The survey showed:
48 percent of business partner respondents see EBITDA (earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortization) growth increases of over 5 percent in the past year
70 percent of CFOs and 63 percent of supply chain heads say their relationship has become more collaborative over the past three years
‘Business partners’ focus on growth agenda rather than cost cutting.
The survey also found that in the U.K., “business partnering is well established.”
Robert Isacoff is EDI & vShip customer account manager at Accellos in Colorado Springs, Colorado.