Article

VIEWPOINT

THE OPTICAL SUPPLY CHAIN

FIND VALUE IN GETTING THE RIGHT ITEM TO THE RIGHT PERSON AT THE RIGHT TIME

IN THE MID 1990s, I visited a dream destination. . . Ardmore, Okla. No doubt, you were jealous — if, that is, you were involved in supply chain management. Ardmore boasted two state-of-the art, fully automated retail distribution centers, or DCs. As an editor who covered supply chain management, I was one of the fortunate few invited to tour the facilities.

NO PENCILS ALLOWED

Entering a high-tech DC could be tough on an editor — we were instructed to surrender all writing instruments, paper, cameras and recording devices before entering the facility. Why? One of the tasks of security was to thwart industrial espionage. If a competitor were to gain intelligence on conveyor systems, number of SKU automated sorters, information systems, etc., it could compromise the competitive advantages that the DC provided.

At that time (the pre-smartphone days), it was not unusual to hear of “spies” who walked the aisles of retail locations and grocery stores with cameras or recording devices hidden in hats or a child’s stroller. Any proprietary information these competitors gathered, even how shelves were stocked, could prove valuable.

The supply chain is just that important. Any organization can benefit from understanding how to deliver the right product/service to the right person at the right time. That said, the supply chain cannot rely on a single entity alone. The efficient flow of products and information across each link in the chain requires relationships — those you build with your staff, your patients/consumers and your vendors.

WRINGING VALUE FROM THE LINKS

In this issue of OM, dedicated to the optical, we offer business tips for many of the critical links along the supply chain. We discuss supplier partners (“Manage Vendor Relationships,” p.26), onsite inventories (“Identify Your Frame Mix,” p.16 and “Evaluate Options,” p.34) and delivering a valuable experience to patients/consumers (“Which is Better? One, Two... or More” p.22). Put simply, our goal is to help you improve your operations. And as an added benefit, you don’t have to go undercover. OM