In my current role as President of the Life Sciences & Healthcare Sector at DHL, one thing is proving particularly useful – my background in technology. I have noticed logistics commonalities between these two sectors. This means the DHL services that enable the efficient handling and transportation of computer equipment are also well suited to supporting patient care. Here are two good examples.

Service parts logistics

The first of two major commonalities is service parts logistics. Our capabilities in this specialty area were originally and primarily developed for the needs of the technology sector. But now we are seeing demand for service parts logistics grow in other industries, particularly from our life sciences and healthcare customers. 

It is so important to have the right spare parts and resources in the right place at the right time. If a server goes down in a critical environment such as a financial trading floor, the responsible technology company must move heaven and earth to restore operations as quickly as possible. Service parts logistics is an enabler for this. For example, DHL’s SLA (service level agreement) logistics network will bring the required replacement items onsite within an agreed window of time.

Both the technology sector and the life sciences and healthcare (LSH) sector feature ever-changing environments with complex supply chains. Organizations operating in these sectors therefore share a similar dependency on high-flexibility, high-visibility service parts logistics.    

Today, LSH companies support doctors, nurses and patients with highly intricate always-on technology – consistent, dependable output from these digital machines can be literally a matter of life and death. If a vital machine goes down, the responsible organization must move swiftly and effectively. And robust contingency plans must be in place to ensure a rapid return to an optimal state.  

Last-mile delivery

The second major commonality is last-mile delivery. Up until now, hospitals have fully focused on the matter of saving lives. This has been essential, of course, but it has been at the expense of best-practice inventory management. Inside many hospital storerooms, it is typical to find plenty of ‘just-in-case’ orders and, conversely, unexpected shortages of items in high demand.   

LSH companies are now tackling this challenge with better final-mile delivery services. Used for many years in the technology sector, these services involve efficiently transporting goods from a fulfillment center to their final destination, often with commitment to ‘just-in-time’ schedules. Storage facilities and warehouses located close to hospitals can be used by pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical device companies to hold the right products in adequate quantities, ready to react quickly to any urgent order from the hospital. This planned logistics service has the added advantage of reducing high hospital operating costs. 

Taking these two examples together, it is clear that logistics skills and services useful in technology can also play a vital role in supporting the life sciences and healthcare sector. I will further elaborate on them, particularly on service parts logistics and last-mile delivery, in articles to come.

Published: April 2017

Image: shutterstock