Monday, September 23, 2013

The most time-bound supply chain network  - The Newspaper delivery system!

I've been writing more on supply chain management for benefit of hospitals specifically concerning issues with time and pressure (caused by calamities and contagious diseases). These are the pressure cooker situations wherein we need to have the pharmaceutical goods delivered in an extremely timely fashion and at the earliest possible. The speed and timeliness is of prime importance and these characteristics could be borrowed from another industry, which is very different but very efficient when it comes to time and costs.

This supply chain system that works under severe time restrictions is by operated by the NEWSPAPER distributors. Though newspapers are outdated today, their supply chain network still amazes me. From the industry or mill to the individual reader, just in a couple of hours seems mind blowing. As mentioned in one of the readings for this week, “plenty of companies need to establish and maintain distribution centers in different markets to enhance efficiency of delivery and decrease the time required to deliver the product to the consumer”. The Newspaper industry could be quoted as one of the best examples to have adapted to this recommended model. They have several distribution centers and efficient delivery systems. They work so much under a tight time line that they can easily be quoted as a model for the hospital systems when there is a need to deliver medications or vaccines that are urgent and have small expiry dates. 

Taking a deeper look at a typical newspaper supply chain we can easily note the following steps -  First the press prints several copies of the newspaper which are to be picked up by the truckers and sent to the individual distribution hubs from wherein they are carried over by the small scale suppliers in trains or automobiles to the individual suppliers (hawkers as they would be referred to in India) who carry them on bicycles and deliver them to houses where they would be read. The interesting part is that all this happens in probably 4 – 6 hours wherein the papers travel from the press to the reader without any damages by wind or storm.

I was looking into this efficient delivery system that balances cost and time efficiently to help the product be delivered at economical rates. If I try to implement the same with the hospital system, may be we do not have several products that need to be delivered regularly like the newspaper but in times of an epidemic, having this system in place already could be quite helpful in reducing the costs and increasing efficiency. It will definitely help save lives and prevent spread of diseases. It is a system that has managed to balance time and costs pretty well and adapting the hospital systems to this kind of system could result in similar savings! What more this system might also be employed when there are natural calamities to transport important necessities like food and clothing – it might sound too early and little unrealistic at the moment but simulating it would be very beneficial in preparing for crisis times – Better safe than sorry! (Simulation could be a topic of blogging for next week when we talk about IT in SCM!)


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