Logistics News

Oliver Wight aids Red Cross

Australia's Red Cross Blood Service improves forecasting accuracy and stabilises inventory levels with help from Oliver Wight

March 19, 2013

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service improved its forecasting accuracy and stabilised inventory levels with the help of business improvement specialists Oliver Wight.

Responsible for the collection and supply of the nation’s blood and blood products, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service faces a unique set of supply chain challenges.

The organisation can’t purchase raw material, so must rely on non-remunerated Australian donors.

Additionally, each product has a different shelf life, storage method and packing and shipping requirements.

Faced with these issues, the Blood Service introduced a tailored version of Oliver Wight’s Integrated Business Planning (Advanced S&OP) software.

However as the Blood Service doesn’t actually ‘sell’ blood, it doesn’t refer to its process ‘as Sales and Operations Planning’. Rather the organisation refers to the solution as its ‘Aligning Supply with Demand program’.

Greater discipline has been established, there is one set of realistic numbers, and a 36-month rolling plan, visible to all the team at any point in time.

“For a highly regulated industry, we had a lot of variable processes with people doing things quite differently across the different regions,” explains Executive Director of Manufacturing, Jacqui Caulfield.

“The product and service portfolio has now been integrated under the Chief Medical Officer; aided by a wider service re-structure.

“It has paved the way for a more integrated system with standardised processes across the states” she says.

The Aligning Supply with Demand program has not only helped deliver the organisation’s strategic objectives, but also improved the service’s marketing and media campaigns.

Specific blood types are targeted to ensure the blood being collected is what patients require.

“We obviously need blood day-in, day-out, but now we know precisely what types and quantities of each we will need,” Caulfield says.

“That means we can be more specific in our communication with donors, and we encourage them to make appointments so we can better forecast inventory.”

Caulfield adds the organisation has come a long way, and is continuing to learn as it goes.

“The Oliver Wight approach really helped us to train and develop our own champions: so instead of relying heavily on consultants, we’ve managed to embed the principles in to our operating mode, which was our goal,” she says.

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