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Supply Chain Insights

Keeping the vaccine supply chain on track



Whether you’re in charge of administering COVID-19 vaccines at a large sports arena, a grocery store, retail pharmacy, or small popup clinic, the fundamental challenges remain the same:

  • healthcare professionals are in short supply.
  • vaccine distribution is being disrupted more than expected.
  • there are not enough vaccine doses available to meet current demand.
  • the variable temperature sensitivity of the vaccine formulations is forcing doses to be administered almost immediately upon arrival.

That’s why it is so important that we put the right processes and technologies in place as soon as possible. We need a better way to collect, analyse and utilise data associated with vaccine distribution and administration to our collective benefit. This data is key to:

  • tracking progress against vaccination goals.
  • monitoring vaccine performance and understanding how protocols may need to be adapted.
  • ensuring individuals receive the right second dose of the vaccine at the right time.
  • confirming that the doses were not compromised due to temperature damage prior to administration.
  • Reopening the economy.

It is also the best way to avoid missteps as we move fast to get shots in arms. The digitalisation of data collection, analysis and distribution will make it easier to standardise and streamline vaccination efforts at multiple touchpoints. It will also ensure the right patient and vaccine data is being reported now and referenced later when second shots are administered, or side effects are being monitored.

However, technology does far more than just improve the vaccination experience for patients and healthcare providers.

Key considerations for vaccine campaign managers

Temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines must be closely monitored to ensure they remain within the appropriate temperature range during distribution, handling and storage. Both vaccine vial monitors, indicator cards and electronic data loggers can simplify this effort. However, it’s not recommended to wait until the time of administration to confirm a dose’s viability. Checks should occur frequently during the distribution, storage and preparation phases.

If a temperature sensor confirms that a temperature excursion has occurred and doses are ultimately disposed of, patients will need to be notified ASAP. A mobile workforce management and/or task management app can alert staff of the issue and provide step-by-step guidance on how to contact and reschedule patients before they make the (sometimes long) drive to the vaccination site. Site managers can then monitor task progress and assign additional labour resources to make phone calls if needed so that people don’t show up for their appointments only to find out they’ll have to come back.

Proper staffing has a crucial impact on the success of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. Given the shortage of healthcare professionals, administrative staff, and facilitators available to support vaccination efforts, it is imperative that the scheduling of workers’ time is performed with extreme care. A workforce management solution helps balance labour resources with demand to provide the optimum schedule and allows vaccination facilities to quickly adjust to unexpected changes, such as unplanned vaccine availability or shortfall, extreme weather, or a worker calling in sick.

At government-run sites, there will be some people who were very recently trained to administer vaccines, as well as teams of professionals and volunteers who may have never worked together. It can be challenging to fully brief staff on processes, and transient teams may not remember the little variations as they move around. This is where a task management solution proves very valuable, as it can deliver step-by-step checklists and guidance to ensure no mistakes are made. For example, a simplified set of instructions can be developed for each role and station to improve consistency and safety (i.e., Step 1. Apply hand sanitiser to gloves between each patient. Step 2…).

In addition to workforce scheduling, inventory management technologies are key to success as well. Vaccine vials aren’t the only “inventory” that managers are accountable for at a vaccination site. Other items including personal protective equipment (PPE), needles, alcohol wipes, band aids and waste management supplies and vaccination certificates/cards must be accounted for. Any shortage could result in appointment cancellations and vaccination delays. Therefore, it’s critical that managers employ a technology-powered inventory management system to maintain an accurate count. These systems can automatically report usage to procurement teams – or even directly to suppliers – to trigger reorders before stock runs out.

In other words, the more technology that’s used throughout the process, the more likely managers are to accurately capture and report data, speed up the patient journey and maximise limited labour resources.

Why it’s never too late to start integrating technology into the vaccination process

Inoculating billions of people in a matter of months, in the middle of a global pandemic, will be difficult. But it’s achievable. (Remember, more than fifty years ago we sent a man to the moon and brought him back again.)

Once the right processes and technology are in place, it will become much easier for vaccination facilities to:

  • successfully schedule both patients and staff at a manageable (but increased) capacity.
  • verify preservation of the cold chain after vials are received or removed from storage.
  • quickly confirm patient IDs, vaccination history and current dosing needs;
  • report dose administration, side effects and other pertinent campaign monitoring information in critical healthcare, supply chain and government information systems.
  • certify vaccination for individuals eager to resume some of their pre-pandemic routines.

Changes won’t happen overnight, but vaccine site managers can take tangible steps today to improve the efficiency and expediency of vaccination administration, eliminate many pain points that currently frustrate both vaccine administrators and patients and reduce the risks of errors and oversights.

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Supply Chain

bp and Uber sign Global Strategic Delivery Partnership



  • bp and Uber sign a new global strategic convenience partnership aiming to make more than 3,000 retail locations available on Uber Eats by 2025.
  • The partnership extends current local arrangements in Australia, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa and the west coast of US, adding the UK and eastern US in 2022 and with plans to launch in other European markets from 2023.

Today, bp (NYSE: BP) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER) are announcing a new global strategic convenience delivery partnership, extending their existing local arrangements to reach more consumers across the world. Together, the partners will offer a huge range of quality convenience products, including fresh and prepared ranges, from select retail locations.

bp is the first convenience retailer to team up with Uber Eats on a global level and aims to have more than 3,000 retail locations available on the delivery platform over the next three years. The partnership supports bp’s goal of growing its access to customers and expanding its delivery footprint, in response to soaring demand for food, groceries and everyday essentials brought to the door.

The new partnership covers retail sites in Australia, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa and the west coast of US. Sites in the UK and eastern US will be added to the app for the first time this year, with plans to launch in other European markets from 2023.

“We’re thrilled to team up with Uber Eats globally giving us the opportunity to reach many more consumers online in addition to those who currently visit our retail sites. We’ve seen how the pandemic has accelerated customer demand for delivered convenience and this partnership will allow us to scale up quickly on the Uber platform. And for the first time, we will be able to offer delivery options to existing customers on our own BPme app by the end of 2023,” said Emma Delaney, executive vice president customers & products, bp.

With 20,500 bp retail sites across the world and 550 million customers living within 20 minutes of a bp retail site, the partners see enormous opportunities for growth. bp sites offer a range of products tailored to local markets which may include hot and cold drinks, food-for-now options as well as staple groceries, fresh produce and ready meals, plus wine, beer and flowers.

  • In the UK, customers will be able to access a range of Wild Bean Café, and other branded food and products via Uber Eats – with the first 120 sites due live on the platform by the end of June.
  • In the US, the offer will be made available to bp’s network of independently owned retail locations to support the growth of their businesses. The goal is to make it easy for these partners to sign up to the Uber Eats platform and access benefits based on bp’s scale.

bp will benefit from Uber’s global brand and operations footprint, best-in-class technology for dispatching orders, and more than 4.4 million drivers and couriers on the platform worldwide.

As part of the agreement, Uber Eats and bp will work to introduce delivery options onto bp’s own app, BPme – initially planned to be available in the UK, US and Australia by the end of 2023 – powered by Uber Direct. This new offer will allow bp to directly connect its customers to delivery riders, making Uber Eats the trusted partner in fulfilling these orders. Since 2019, bp has seen a three-fold increase in users of the BPme app, with 16 million active loyalty users worldwide.

“With more than 20,500 locations around the world, bp’s reach is enormous—making them critical partners as we pursue our ambitions of helping consumers across the world get what they need delivered to their doorsteps,” said Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s SVP of Global Delivery. “We are proud to support this next phase of the company’s convenience growth through this delivery partnership and look forward to deeper collaboration in the future.”

bp and Uber already work together in mobility with bp providing electric vehicle charging for Uber’s ride-hail drivers. The companies will explore other areas for future cooperation in convenience, including opportunities to utilize low carbon delivery methods to fulfill orders from bp sites.

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Supply Chain Insights

Officeworks to own and control Distribution Network.



Officeworks invests in supply chain capabilities, will own and run it’s distribution centre.

Officeworks has changed its supply chain strategy in the wake of COVID-19 issues, with a view to owning and controlling a network of distribution centres across the country.

“When I joined we had a different strategy around our supply chain,” Officeworks managing director Sarah Hunter told The Australian, referring to the company’s previous outsourcing strategy.

“So we’ve worked really hard now to build our supply chain capability. We were in the process of outsourcing it, we are now in the process of building that capability.

Officeworks recently opened Australia’s first solar-powered robotic distribution centre in Derrimut, Victoria.

“We started in Victoria, and we have had approval to build, now board approval to invest, and we are building a new, similar (distribution centre) operation in Western Australia. That’s exciting,” she said.

“Looking at our capital expenditure three, four, or five years ago it’s a material step up in our investment in our supply chain.

“Most importantly for us as a business is that every team member who worked at the old facility has been completely retrained,” she said. “We have 120 team members who are now fully trained in how to work in an automated state-of-the-art environment.”

The need to control its own distribution became clear during the pandemic.

By December, Officeworks saw 46 per cent of its business come from online, including click and collect. Now it needs to move to retain this growth at a cost effective scale.

“We have created a facility that’s not only more productive, it’s going to enable our online business to grow in Victoria and into NSW at the rate that we expect our online business will grow.

“So now we have the capacity, the cost per pick is materially lower because it’s much more productive. It’s a win-win scenario for us. We’ve kept everyone employed with really great job security. We’ve scaled them up to work in the supply chain of the future.

“And on top of that, we now have the capacity for growth in Victoria that frankly we were struggling with through COVID.”

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Business Continuity

Skills shortage puts SAP projects on hold



Business demand creates double whammy on recruitment pressure

Skills-related issues have hit a quarter of SAP users, in some cases putting projects on hold, according to a survey of companies in the Americas.

Research released by the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) shows that 26 per cent of organisations see skills in supporting, developing, and upgrading SAP systems as their number one challenge in working with the technology.

A quarter of users loyal to the German vendor said skills problems were holding up projects.

Geoff Scott, ASUG CEO, told a webinar last week that the combination of skills shortages in businesses and their technology teams created a vicious cycle of driving the demand for new tools and technologies.

“Business functions come and say, ‘Hey, I need to have all these things done.’ And technology teams say, ‘Well, I don’t have the same skills I used to have.’ And I think it creates a major disruption inside many of our member companies,” he said.

Skills were also a major issue for SAP users looking either to migrate to or support S/4HANA, the latest version of the tech giant’s ERP software based on an in-memory database.

“We are going to feel the pinch of that skill gap. My word of caution is that as you think about moving to S/4 if you have not already, the ability for you to plan that migration may hit some turbulence related to skill gaps with your external partners. That’s something that you absolutely positively should consider,” he said.

While technology issues were the greatest concern in the research overall, broken down, only integration problems were more cited than staff turnover and maintaining knowledgeable staff.

Of those with integration problems, 28 per cent said they were causing data errors to spread, 17 per cent said they were affecting the compatibility between SAP and other applications, and 17 per cent said it meant they were unable to keep up with new technologies.

One respondent said: “Changes made in SAP and Salesforce that do not get reflected in the other system are causing data inconsistencies.”

Overall, the majority of SAP users were increasing their spending on the technology. Fifty-two per cent said they were increasing spending, up from 46 per cent last year.

However, the proportion of users saying they were cutting spending on SAP also rose from 5 per cent last year to 8 per cent in 2022. The number of organisations making the same level of investment fell, according to the ASUG research.

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