Growing profits

A PARTNERSHIP with Imperial Health Sciences, an African healthcare logistics provider, has enabled global vision care company Bausch & Lomb to grow its South African business astronomically. In just six months, a 22% increase in sales volumes has been achieved, along with a service level of 99.97%.

“The logistics and distribution challenges associated with Bausch & Lomb’s vast product range prompted our client to seek out our experience and expertise,” comments Dr Iain Barton, MD of Imperial Logistics group company Imperial Health Sciences.

Elaborating on the complexity of Bausch & Lomb logistics and distribution needs, he says that the challenge of an immense product range is exacerbated by the fact that certain stock items are serialised. “In addition, there is consignment stock that must be efficiently managed and, with Bausch & Lomb’s products going into retailers, pharmacies, optometrists, eye specialists and hospitals, there are multiple distribution channels.”

Bausch & Lomb’s product range includes contact lenses that are distributed through optometrists; lens care and solutions that are sold through retailers and pharmacies; and surgical products and equipment, including intraocular lens implants.

“Prior to partnering with Imperial, our client was contending with inventory management problems, stock write offs, expiring consignment stock, back orders that could not be fulfilled and call centre inefficiencies that were resulting in a high rate of abandoned calls. In just three months, Imperial Health Sciences has transformed Bausch & Lomb’s South African operation into a successful, efficient profit centre,” Barton reports.

A new, customised infrastructure was developed to accommodate Bausch & Lomb’s 30 000 SKUs in a new 600m² area at Imperial Health Sciences. It includes innovative new racks and plastic shelf containers with adjustable dividers, providing for the storage of many small units. “These ensure easy access for fast and efficient batch picking, optimise space and ensure operational efficiency,” explains Barton. Imperial Health Sciences moved approximately 24 000 SKUs (stock keeping units) into the new space in just 10 days, he reveals. The unique racks and shelves were designed by Imperial Logistics group company Resolve Capacity.

The Bausch & Lomb call centre has been relocated to the Imperial Health Sciences call centre environment in Centurion, and Barton says that abandoned calls are now less than 1%. “Call volumes have increased by 148%, and calls are answered within six seconds,” he adds.

To optimise Bausch & Lomb’s vision care deliveries, which are twice daily, Imperial Health Sciences partnered with a new courier, Mercury Couriers, which has fully integrated with the Imperial system, to provide full traceability of consignments from point of handover to delivery and returns.

Utilising SAP, Imperial Health Sciences rewrote its systems around the requirements of Bausch & Lomb’s lens and surgical items. Barton elaborates: “A new receiving process was designed to upload purchase orders electronically, RF device picking with full batch and serial number control was implemented. Imperial has also established a full warehouse team that focuses solely on the receiving, inventory control, picking, packing, invoicing and dispatch of the vision care products.”

Bausch & Lomb’s unfulfilled back orders have been eliminated by Imperial’s world class systems, which ensure batch transparency and include back order release. The company is also no longer dealing with stock write offs.

“In addition to delivering exceptional value to Bausch & Lomb, this significant partnership has yielded an ultra-efficient, unique, new infrastructure system that Imperial Health Sciences will utilise for other clients going forward, including new clients in the aesthetics and corrective dermatology sector,” Barton concludes.