Managing perishable inventories is a trade‐off of shortages and lost sales against wastage. This paper aims to identify what drives good management of perishables within the supply chain using the example of blood inventory management in hospitals.
Seven case studies with hospital transfusion laboratories in the UK blood supply chain were carried out in order to explore how perishable inventories are managed. The case studies identify drivers for good performance in perishable inventories.
Six recommendations are developed for how managers can improve perishable inventory performance. These are based around simple management procedures implemented by experienced staff. The case studies develop three propositions that recommend how inventory theory should be embedded in practice.
This research demonstrates that managerial changes and training issues have a significant impact on waste reduction and inventory management performance in perishable supply chains. However, as the case studies focus on the blood supply chain, some caution needs to be applied in generalising these findings beyond the specific context studied.
A multi‐disciplinary approach, combining awareness of the importance of the dynamics of the whole supply chain with good skill and experience, leads to new thinking, which enables staff to make better inventory decisions resulting in better performance and reduced wastage. Managerial changes and training are critical for good inventory performance.
Literature suggests that sophisticated and complex inventory models will drive performance; however, in practice a combination of basic well‐grounded inventory theory with simple management procedures carried out by experienced staff leads to better performance.
Stanger, S., Wilding, R., Yates, N. and Cotton, S. (2012), "What drives perishable inventory management performance? Lessons learnt from the UK blood supply chain", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 107-123. https://doi.org/10.1108/13598541211212861Download as .RIS
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