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A Different Approach to Inventory Management

Catalent needed to streamline operations and came up with its own approach to do it.

July 2009 by Chris Mc Loone
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Various factors drive a business to increase efficiencies in business operations. During the past two years, the state of the economy has caused many companies to examine their books very carefully and reallocate, eliminate, or re-evaluate where necessary.

Such was the case for the Printed Components business of Catalent Pharma Solutions (www.catalent.com), a global, full-service printed component supplier with an integrated network of packaging operations. "The current state of the economy is forcing businesses to look at cost savings opportunities," says Adrian Stoch, general manager, Moorestown Printed Components. "In addition, the pharmaceutical industry has seen a shift to smaller order quantities." These two factors, he adds, have led Catalent to investigate operational and supply chain improvements and provide mechanisms for easier order processing. The result of this impetus is a new approach to an overall integrated supply chain between Catalent and its customers that includes inventory management, quote requests, product configuration, order processing, quality data management, billing data access, and artwork management—its eMagineering™ Suite.

A new approach

The eMagineering suite is designed to contain a number of automated online functions that result in significant improvements in the supply chain for Printed Components, including ordering, quality, and inventory management. It is "an expanded e-business solution that integrates concepts and components from ERP, Lean, and supply chain to provide customers with easier means to process and manage orders with their print vendors," says Stoch. "E-business solutions do exist today that provide functions such as electronic order processing and real-time access to order information. But, the eMagineering suite will streamline numerous touch points across the supply chain and extends well beyond many of today's existing offerings. A customer will not only have immediate access to its own historic data, but will also be able to set up new product configurations and review quotes in real time." The entire solution is Web-based, with the exception of customers who wish to install the full electronic vendor-managed inventory (eVMI) solution, which requires installing webcams at the client's site.

Know your ABC's

eVMI is a major component of the eMagineering suite, according to Stoch. It is a combination of a Lean inventory management system (Kanban) and webcams to provide real-time online access to actual inventory levels at the customer. Using this solution, Catalent's customer service representatives (CSRs) monitor the actual inventory levels within the customer's warehouse. There are three "bins" in the supply chain:

 

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