Laerdal has seen strong demand for medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic © Getty Images
Laerdal has seen strong demand for medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic © Getty Images

How Laerdal Medical is overhauling procurement under lockdown

The procurement manager at an international medical equipment company has described the challenge of implementing a new global sourcing tool under lockdown.

Ane Hammer Eliassen, procurement manager at healthcare training firm Laerdal Medical, told SM the company is at the implementation stage of a digital tool that will help ensure compliance and efficiency in its procurement and sourcing processes.

But her work to get staff trained on the new system has been hampered by remote working and travel restrictions imposed across the globe.

“The plan was that I would travel and be on-site when each team started to use the system. So I would go to China when the China team started using the system, and then I would go to Texas when they first started using it. Now we have to do all training online. Our implementation partner also has to train us online,” said Eliassen. 

“It’s not ideal because you can’t see how people react, you can’t see if they’re following. Communication is over email and you can’t gather everyone in a room and make sure they’re engaged. It’s a new way of doing change management.”

The sourcing team at Laerdal is responsible for finding the best supplier for each component used in Laerdal’s training and medical equipment, which includes airway management trainers and “stifnecks”, used to support patients who have injured their neck or back. A highly technical training mannequin consists of over 1,500 parts, from textiles to IT. 

“By using a digital tool, we can track and see trends related to quality issues. We can identify them earlier, improve them and make the quality of our products even better. If we can reduce the price of what we buy, we can reduce the price of the products we sell and more customers can use them,” Eliassen explained. 

“If we can work more efficiently and improve cooperation with suppliers, we believe we can achieve our [Laerdal Medical] goal of helping save 500,000 lives every year.” 

Laerdal Medical began working with Ivalua in October 2019 to develop a sourcing tool that could be integrated into its current processes to ensure compliance, improve traceability, prevent duplication of efforts and support contract management.

“This gives us the opportunity to use our time where it gives us the most value, to work with our suppliers and optimise the quality of the function and of the parts we buy,” she said. 

While the pandemic has altered the way Laerdal is implementing the procurement tool, Eliassen said strong communication with suppliers had been crucial to operating at a time when the global demand for medical equipment is so high. 

“The need for this equipment is much higher now but because of the global situation and it’s been hard for us to get all the parts needed for manufacturing and lead times have increased,” Eliassen said. 

“Some of our suppliers are really supporting us. They’re seeing the situation and if we need something, they are working day and night to support us.”

Eliassen added: “We’ve seen some products are stuck in customs. Both the sourcing team and the regulatory team are working in new situations that we have never experienced before.”

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