How Bio-Rad is reimagining its supply chain to boost customer service

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Life sciences supply chains are known for their complexity. The products can be sophisticated and often require specialized handling and storage. The industry is also highly regulated, which means companies must demonstrate compliance at various stages of the supply chain. As well, getting the finished products to customers on time typically involves navigating a complex global network of suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors. 

These high levels of complexity – combined with the various weaknesses in global supply chains that were exposed during the pandemic – have prompted many leading life sciences companies to accelerate their supply chain planning transformations. 

Kinaxis customer Bio-Rad is one such company. An industry leader with $2.8 billion in sales, Bio-Rad has a diversified customer base in the life sciences research and clinical diagnostics markets. Its sales are evenly distributed across North America, Europe, and Asia and cover both equipment and reagents for clinical diagnostics, genomics, proteomics, and cell biology.  

Working in collaboration with Kinaxis and IBM, Bio-Rad is well down the road on its supply chain transformation journey, making great strides towards its overarching goal of delivering improved service and responsiveness to its customers.   

This journey is the subject of a new on-demand webinar that I recently took part in. Hosted by Supply Chain Now’s Scott Luton, we were joined by Andres Ospina, Senior Manager, Global Supply Chain Planning at Bio-Rad, and IBM’s Pushpinder Singh and Ninad Raje. We had a great discussion about Bio-Rad’s supply chain transformation initiative, including the key triggers that led to it, how the company handled the solution implementation, and the many benefits it’s seen so far. 

A “single source of truth” for planning 

As we discuss in detail in the webinar, there were a variety of factors driving Bio-Rad to undertake its total supply chain transformation. Service levels were not where they should be, decision making was slow, inventory needed improvement, and the company needed to break down its highly complex and siloed planning environment, which relied on Excel and error-prone manual processes. Most importantly, the company was not able to generate a reasonably accurate revenue forecast without significant manual activity. 

As Andres notes, "when we think about demand planning, we were looking for a system that would help us build a revenue forecast.” The company decided that it needed support for its S&OP process, something that would be a “single source of truth and velocity in decision making.” After a thorough evaluation, Bio-Rad chose to partner with Kinaxis for this journey.

A phased implementation yielded positive results

A key aspect of Bio-Rad’s transformation was adopting a phased approach to its deployment of RapidResponse. 

Bio-Rad started with demand planning and deployed the forecasting capabilities of Kinaxis RapidResponse. This was implemented globally and gave the company the ability to easily generate a revenue forecast as well as its annual operating plan (AOP). In addition, Bio-Rad focused on master data and analytics to manage master data quality right from the beginning of the transformation.

The next step was to deploy supply planning on top of this foundation across the company’s manufacturing and distribution network. Bio-Rad had both SAP and non-SAP ERP instances, which gave its planners – for the first time – end-to-end visibility and the capability for “closed loop” concurrent planning across the entire supply chain. 

As a result, planners have a better understanding of availability dates for customer deliveries and can identify revenue that is constrained by supply as well as mitigation opportunities. 

Change management has also been extremely important throughout this journey, and helping planners understand “what’s in it for them” has been key for their motivation. Bio-Rad has found that after training and gaining some experience, users love planning in RapidResponse. Their days spent living in “spreadsheet hell” are over as they can now collaborate globally using a single source of the truth. 

All these improvements have already helped Bio-Rad achieve more accurate demand forecasts, reduce its planning cycles and ultimately, deliver a higher level of service to customers. While acknowledging that there’s still more work to do, Andres sums up the result of Bio-Rad’s successful transformation initiative with Kinaxis and IBM. 

“We have a built a platform for planning collaboration. We’re looking at a single source of truth, and that’s reality,” he says. “We are leveraging demand planning models and forecasting on that and it has enabled us to create a supply plan for the entire network.”

Watch the on-demand webinar

Watch the on-demand webinar to hear the panel’s in-depth discussion, including the four key takeaways for companies embarking on their own supply chain transformation journey:

Blue rectangle graphic with text that reads How Bio-Rad reimagined its supply chain to boost customer service

For more on this topic, check out:

Life sciences: Set your supply chain on the course to excellent health

Digital transformation: Accelerate innovation and profitability

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