When Imperial Heath Sciences client Valeant Pharmaceuticals International acquired vision care company Bausch & Lomb, it was faced with the complex challenges that mark this testing pharmaceutical category.
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.
Valeant initially placed its South African division of Bausch & Lomb into the Linbro Park facility of local subsidiary, iNova. Focused on developing and marketing a range of professionally endorsed healthcare products to South Africa and other selected African countries, iNova was well placed to grow the product range and create demand for Bausch & Lomb’s products, but was not equipped for the logistics and distribution challenges associated with this vast product range. These challenges include the fact that Bausch & Lomb’s product range is immense. For the one condition of astigmatism, for example, there are some 350 different contact lens prescriptions, depending on the patient’s specific needs. Exacerbating this challenge is the fact that every stock item is serialised; consignment stock must be efficiently managed; and with Bausch & Lomb’s products going into retailers, pharmacies, optometrists, eye specialists and hospitals, there are multiple distribution channels.
Faced 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, Valeant needed a different solution. The group partnered with Imperial Health Sciences, Africa’s leading partner in the healthcare supply chain, in order to turn around Bausch & Lomb South Africa, and transform the operation into a successful, efficient profit centre.
Imperial’s greatest challenge was meeting the testing time frame. In just three months, the company had to have the infrastructure and systems in place to take in 30 000 Bausch & Lomb SKUs and go live with a full, end-to-end solution for Bausch & Lomb, from order to debt collection. Imperial Health Sciences usually runs at some 5 500 active SKUs in total.
Since vision care is a completely new and different product set for Imperial Health Sciences, a new division was established to meet Bausch & Lomb’s needs.
The new, customised infrastructure that was developed to accommodate Bausch & Lomb’s 30 000 SKUs in a new 600m2 area at Imperial Health Sciences includes innovative new racks and plastic shelf containers with adjustable dividers, providing for the storage of many small units. They ensure easy access for fast and efficient batch picking, optimise space and ensure operational efficiency. The unique racks and shelves were designed by Resolve Capacity. The build of the new warehouse started on 4 August 2014 and was completed on 10 October 2014.
Imperial Health Sciences moved approximately 24 000 SKUs in 10 days. Dedicated checking teams were placed on site at the Bausch & Lomb warehouse in Linbro Park to do the checking of the physical stock, and stock was packed, moved and ready to be received at Imperial Health Sciences. Stock receipt sheets were manually captured by the operations team to ensure electronic uploads and receipts of the stock moved from Linbro Park.
On 9 October 2014 the Bausch & Lomb call centre relocated from the Linbro Park premises to the Imperial Health Sciences call centre environment in Centurion.
The Bausch & Lomb call centre structure was ring-fenced in the Imperial call centre, dealing initially with the vision care telephone calls, orders and queries. The cluster was allocated its own Sharecall telephone number and Sharecall fax number, as well as orders distribution queue.
On 13 October 2014, the new Bausch & Lomb vision care call centre went live.
When it became evident that a four-person cluster was not sufficient to handle the volumes being received into the Bausch & Lomb vision care cluster, Imperial increased the agent complement to eight. In addition, all Imperial call centre agents are now trained on all Bausch & Lomb vision care products.
Imperial Health Sciences partnered with a new courier, Mercury Couriers to do the vision care deliveries, which are twice daily. Mercury has fully integrated with the Imperial system and Imperial has full traceability of consignments from point of handover to delivery and returns. The courier implementation and interface was undertaken in just three weeks.
Utilising SAP, Imperial Health Sciences rewrote its systems around the requirements of Bausch & Lomb’s lens and surgical items. A new receiving process was designed to upload purchase orders electronically. RF device picking with full batch and serial number control was implemented. A consignment stock process was designed. The IT development started on 4 August 2014 and was completed on 6 October 2014, when the final testing was done. A new replenishment process was implemented to convert a patient pack to trial units, with automated transfer from material to material and replenishment trial packs based on mapping table and batch job.
New OPS teams
Imperial has established a full warehouse team that focuses solely on the receiving, inventory control, picking, packing, invoicing and dispatch of the vision care products. The team invoiced the first orders on 13 October 2014.
Since partnering with Imperial Health Sciences, Bausch & Lomb’s business has grown astronomically, with sales volumes up 22% – in just six months.
It is estimated that up to 40% of calls to Bausch & Lomb’s old call centre were being abandoned. The new call centre at Imperial has abandons of less than 1%. Call volumes have increased by 148%, and calls are answered within six seconds.
Back orders (up to three months) which Bausch & Lomb was unable to fulfill have been eliminated by Imperial’s world class systems, which ensure batch transparency and include back order release. Bausch & Lomb is also no longer dealing with stock write offs.
In November 2014, Imperial Health Sciences achieved a service level of 99.97% for Bausch & Lomb.
This significant project 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. This new business was won based on the success of Imperial’s partnership with Bausch & Lomb.