Less is More: Reduce Inventory in the Field
(Without Hurting Deliverability).

Written By

Nicolas Orrego
Nicolas Orrego

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Introduction:

Everybody wants to reduce inventory in the field—but what is the real need? The answer is much more complex than simply having less inventory out there. Do you want less waste and loss? Of course. Fewer back orders, efficient deliverability, and greater utilization—absolutely! The real goal is to always have your inventory exactly where it’s needed. It’s a complex problem that demands a multi-pronged solution.


The Root of the Problem: Inventory Everywhere (and Nowhere)

When managing field inventory in the Medical Devices Industry, deliverability is paramount. The industry has historically responded to this need by storing inventory everywhere it can. Hospitals want consignment on-hand. Distributors want stock in their field warehouses and offices, and commercial sales teams even want (or don’t want, but feel they need) it stuffed in rep’s trunks. But lacking a comprehensive way to track and control all the various types of inventory at all the various locations leads to waste, loss, and expiration in the field. That is to say nothing about the burden of trying to supply and maintain inventory at levels that may already be met—but there’s just no way to know.


Pitfalls of Reducing Inventory

The glue that keeps the whole inventory distribution operation together is trust, and few things axe trust faster than pulling back inventory from a partner they believe is critical to their success in the field. There is likely already significant sandbagging inventory in the field due to unstable trust structures. Increased hoarding, worsening back-order issues and eventual loss of opportunities and talent are visceral risks that the industry must navigate when reducing inventory. Unravelling this conundrum within a running engine is possible, with the right strategies.


Safely Reduce Field Inventory Using These Key Strategies:


Add Stock — Before Taking Away

A best practice is to first allocate inventory to locations where there is a high demand or immediate need. This strategy improves operational efficiency by preventing stockouts and reducing delays. Additionally, it builds trust in the field: once field partners feel prioritized because their needs are being met, they can then be more cooperative sharing excess stock.


Data-Backed Redistribution

Analytical data-backed modeling optimizes inventory distribution through analysis of:

  • Asset Performance: Using utilization rates, maintenance history, and product lifespan, assets that are underutilized or at a higher risk of failure are identified.
  • Usage Patterns: Tracking trends in consumption of inventory items across different locations and time periods helps determine which items are in high demand.
  • Demand Forecasting: Historical data, market trends, and other relevant factors are all leveraged to estimate the expected demand for specific items at all locations.

With data-driven insights, Movemedical enables inventory to be allocated based on actual usage and anticipated demand. This reduces excess stock by redistributing inventory to locations where it is needed the most.


A Simple Process

Intuitive and user-friendly processes reduce the learning curve, encouraging adoption. When the right actions are clearly defined and easily accessible, they become the natural choice for users—which increases compliance and cooperation. When users have access to accurate and up-to-date information, they better understand the impact of their actions and make more compliant choices.

The ideal technology solution for reducing field inventory will include an easy-to-use interface, it will have comprehensive training with ongoing support, and it will make the right thing the easiest thing to do. For example: carrier-integrated automated shipment generation and directed audit actions both help field personnel easily complete field work that facilitates the inventory re-distribution process.


FutureStock

FutureStock is an inventory management approach that provides advanced planning and accurate forecasting. It considers delivery lead times, hospital cutoff deadlines, inventory processing intervals, and all inventory requirements for upcoming cases (for scheduled procedures). Two weeks of case demand signal can provide a more accurate forecast than a year’s historical usage or demand data. This reduces the risk of stockouts and minimizes the carrying costs associated with excess inventory.


Comprehensive System Integration

A Unified, Integrated System is critical to maximize field inventory reduction with the minimal business impact. It does this by offering the following:


1. Visibility and Control

To fix a problem you must first be able to recognize it. By integrating all inventory data into a single system, a unified platform provides real-time visibility and centralized control over inventory across multiple locations and types. This eliminates data silos and allows for comprehensive monitoring and management of inventory levels, reducing the risk of stockouts or excess stock.


2. Detailed Item Tracking

Data is captured on all inventory movements and activities in unprecedented detail through:

  • Atomic Stock: Proprietary, real-time system-serialized tracking of all inventory as loose items and within container kits.
  • Detailed Data: Granular information is recorded about each item with relevant ownership, locations, and history. While other solutions in the industry track transactions only using ~90 fact tables, Movemedical uses 500+ data tables to capture all data relevant to the life of the transaction.
  • Time Slices: A snapshot or “slice of time”, a historical log that captures all relevant data for any actions linked to every piece of stock.


3. Automation and Streamlining

An integrated end-to-end system streamlines inventory management processes and automates manual tasks. This reduces the potential for human error. With custom-configured implementations informed by industry best practices, the system can standardize workflows, which increases efficiency and improves accuracy.


4. Trust and Communication

Trust and the right compliant communication is critical to adoption, especially across multiple distributors or divisions. A unified system facilitates seamless communication and collaboration among stakeholders including sales reps, operations teams, and healthcare facilities. Real-time data sharing, cross-team order tracking, and in-app linked messaging capabilities foster trust and transparency between inventory teams.


5. Scalability

Manual processes, and tools with limited functionality that were not purpose-built can work as a stopgap, but only perhaps for a single division, or a handful of high-value products. A unified enterprise system is designed to accommodate the growth and scalability needs of medical device companies—including increasing inventory volumes, serving multiple markets, and evolving business requirements. A unified, state-of-the-art platform ensures scalability. This will effectively solve inventory management as the company expands without compromising performance or deliverability.


In Conclusion

Reducing field inventory requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the complexities of inventory management. By implementing strategies such as adding stock where it is needed, data-backed redistribution, and leveraging advanced planning, med device companies can optimize inventory levels and minimize carrying costs. A unified, integrated system plays a crucial role in achieving these objectives by providing visibility and control across all inventory locations, detailed item tracking, streamlined processes, effective communication, and scalability. Making the right thing the easy thing to do, through an intuitive user interface, produces the compliance and cooperation in the field necessary for such an undertaking. Ultimately, by reducing inventory in a strategic and effective manner, med device companies and healthcare providers will improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance customer loyalty.


If a real conversation about how Movemedical can help your enterprise med device company with reducing in-field inventory, let’s talk (like regular people).

Contact us here:  info@movemedical.com  / call 877.469.3992 or watch this VIDEO (executive case study)

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