04/09/2017 : 0 Comments
The Invistics team will be attending the following upcoming events for Controlled Substance Compliance in 2017. We’ll be there to learn as much as possible about the latest news and technology in the industry.
Come say hi! We welcome a chance to make introductions and to discuss our inventory tracking & reporting solutions for CS Compliance.
20th Annual Controlled Substance and State Regulatory Conference
Description: Join us on April 26-28, 2017 at the Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center, Orlando, Florida for the 20th Annual Controlled Substance and State Regulatory Conference. The conference will include general sessions, breakout sessions and interactive roundtables hosted by industry leaders, regulatory experts and law firms. As in years past the conference will focus on the latest regulatory challenges and concerns to the industry and provide you with the most useful and up to date information available.
Address: 8101 World Center Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
NADDI 2017 National Conference
Description: The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators present our 28th Annual Conference from October 17-20 2017 at the Wyndham Grand Downtown in Pittsburgh, PA. This is the national NADDI conference partnering with Law Enforcement, Anti-Drug Community Coalitions, Healthcare Facilities & Pharma.
Address: 600 Commonwealth Pl, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15222, United States
NASCSA 2017 Conference
Description: The National Association of State Controlled Substance Authorities 2017 annual conference will be held from Oct 17-20th 2017 at the Drury Plaza Hotel in San Antonio, TX. This is the national NASCSA conference for the exchange of ideas, information, and views on legal and regulatory issues relating to controlled substances.
Address: 105 South Saint Mary’s Street, San Antonio, TX 78205
Inventory Optimization for Measuring and Test Equipment (M&TE) - Working with the Vendor to Setup a Project
03/29/2017 : 0 Comments
This is the third in a series of blog posts that documents the journey of a large electric utility in its quest to optimizing its extensive inventory of measuring and test equipment (M&TE). In the first two posts we talked about identifying the problem and finding a solution provider.
The problem, simply stated, was how do we optimize the inventory of measuring and test equipment we support as part of an overall cost saving initiative. We needed to reduce excesses where possible while ensuring required availability when needed. With a clearly stated problem and the available tools we had at hand we realized a viable solution would ultimately involve use of vendor provided analytical software tools.
With Invistics selected as the preferred provider of that software solution, as described in the second blog post, we needed to work out contractual terms, set up the interfaces between our data and Invistics’ solution, and learn how to use the tools to help us optimize our inventory.
The contracting process for a publicly traded electric utility that operates in a regulated market can often seem burdensome due to the regulatory requirements. Our contracts, especially for software, tend to have volumes of fine print to ensure we meet all our regulatory obligations and commercial responsibilities. Having previously managed a group at another company that provided software, I knew the challenges vendors with software solutions have in protecting their investment and their need for contractual controls over the use of their software. With these potentially conflicting interests, I did not look forward to this part of the project.
I was pleasantly surprised that Invistics was able to work directly with our contracts group and come to mutually agreeable commercial terms in very short order. Within days of selecting Invistics, they and our contracts group exchanged respective standard terms and conditions. Where there were potential conflicts these were noted and then with just a few short e-mails and phone call exchanges they were all worked out. Within a week or so a basic contract was in place and ready to go.
That’s when our IT department stepped in. Because the contract involved software-as-a-service (i.e. operating in the cloud), and because cyber security was becoming ever more of a concern for electric utilities, the IT department required additional information as to the how Invistics managed their software and its security. Again having previous experience working with other vendors I realized that it might take weeks if not months for the vendor to answer all the questions, and the follow up questions, our IT department would have.
Again I was pleasantly surprised. Invistics’ chief technology officer was able to provide all the requested information in just a few days. As the response was so complete and showed robust security controls on the part of Invistics, our IT group had only a few follow up questions, which again, Invistics’ chief technology officer was able to answer within a day or so. So we were set to go.
This is where it always gets interesting. You know the routine. The salesman on the car lot never leaves your side, they are there to answer all the questions, they seemingly can’t be too helpful. In fact, you couldn’t get rid of them if you wanted to. That is until you complete the sales paperwork. Then you have a hard time getting them to return even a phone call. So now that Invistics had the contract, how responsive would they be?
This is where I think Invistics separates itself from many other providers; customer service and interface. As soon as the contract was in place we got a call from Invistics setting up an initial consultation on how they could best assist us in getting up and running. We set a date for a webex meeting. On that call Invistics started by asking us about how we wanted to proceed, any limitations we had, what resources we would be assigning, and what timeline expectations we had. After carefully listening, they then laid out a game plan based on that input for getting us access to their software and getting us trained.
An obviously very experienced project manager had been assigned to our project and facilitated that meeting. While very much a take-charge person, she was good about stopping and drawing us out when she sensed we might not have fully understood some point of discussion, or when she sensed we might have an unspoken concern. While I felt we were in very good hands with the assigned project manager, I was also pleased that the salesman was part of that meeting as well as the chief technology officer, and the president of the company. Not sure if we are just that special or if the president routinely attends these kick off meetings, but we certainly felt like a valued customer.
Within days of that call Invistics had set us up within their system, provided us with the necessary links to their software, and set up those of us who would be accessing the software with login IDs and passwords. We now had secure access to the software and were ready to go. Well almost.
After poking around the software, which we were assured we couldn’t break, we realized that while the interfaces were simple and straight-forward we would need some training. Fortunately, as part of the initial webex meeting, training was discussed and a tentative schedule had already been agreed upon. Quite frankly the speed at which all this happened took us somewhat by surprise. Because we assumed getting to this point might take months, instead of just a couple of short weeks, we needed to scramble on our end to get our ducks in a row, as Invistics was obviously prepared to help us fast track this project.
In part IV of this blog we will share how Invistics set up and went about training us on the best use of their software.
03/29/2017 : 0 Comments
According to a new report by CNBC:
Americans are in more pain than any other population around the world. At least, that’s the conclusion that can be drawn from one startling number from recent years: Approximately 80 percent of the global opioid supply is consumed in the United States.
Pain drugs are the second-largest pharmaceutical class globally, after cancer medicines. “There was about 300 million pain prescriptions written in 2015,” Irina Koffler, senior analyst, specialty pharma, Mizuho Securities USA, told CNBC.
The 300 million pain prescriptions equal a $24 billion market, Koffler said, but it’s not a market evenly divided around the globe. Rampant use of opioids in the United States, which represents only 5 percent of the global population, points to a larger divide between affluent nations and the rest of the world when it comes to prescription painkillers.
“If you include Canada and Western Europe, [consumption of global opioid supply] increases to 95 percent, so the remaining countries only have access to about 5 percent of the opioid supply,” said Vikesh Singh, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Pancreatitis Center at Johns Hopkins University.
The opioid epidemic is deeply entrenched in an American culture that relies on the various manufactured opioids for pain relief. Invistics is dedicated to working with all links in the Drug Supply Chain starting from quota procurement in manufacturing, to research & development, and distribution to track and maintain the inventory of opioids and other controlled substances are being widely produced and distributed in our country.
See see our web-based software solutions can help: http://www.invistics.com/flowlytics-overview/for-dea-compliance/
03/28/2017 : 0 Comments
In queueing theory, Kingman’s formula states that the mean waiting time is given by:
AQT = Average Queue Time.
p = Utilization, expressed as decimal
Ca2 + Cs2 = arrival and process coefficient of variations.
τ = average process time
So what are the practical, manufacturing take-aways?
- The longer the average process time is, the more important is the queue length. For example a process that takes a minute, with a queue of 5, is much better than a process that takes an hour with a queue of 5
- Utilization is king. If utilization is low (~50% or less), arrival variation and process variation will have a small impact. If utilization is high (80% or higher), arrival and process variation will matter much more.
- service, and assembly, extra capacity may not be as expensive compared to it’s manufacturing counterparts. This is because it is easy to move/add employees between functions.
- Since many service processes are longer than manufacturing processes, variation is generally more tolerable in service than in manufacturing. In other words, it is generally much more effective to focus on reducing failure demand than variation when it comes to service organizations.
- Reducing time variation is generally less critical than reducing utilization. Utilization is affected by errors which generate failure demand or rework.
- Arrival variation should not be ignored. It is just as important as process variation. Can your arrival variation be influenced through salesmen, incentives, informing customers or reducing supply chain amplifications?
- The work release behavior of processes upstream of bottleneck is important. The smoother (less lumpy) the orders come in at those work stations, the faster the bottleneck will process the orders.
Additionally, the Theory of Constraint advocates 5 steps of improvement: identify, exploit, subordinate, elevate, and repeat. Kingman’s equations gives these additional insights:
-To identify the constraint (bottleneck), it is easier to examine only the load and compare it with demonstrated capacity. Kingman shows that overload begins at less than 100% utilization, and that sensitivity variations is particularly important at high utilization.
-Exploiting constraints should include variation reduction in addition to other methods such as buffering with Inventory.
-Subordinating other resources should include looking upstream of the constraint to examine arrival variation coming into the bottleneck.
Kingman’s equation ties together Lean, 6 Sigma, TOC, and service systems to show that there’s not a one-size fit all when it comes to adding value to your operations. The key is in knowing when to apply each school of thought.
(Be sure to check out John Bicheno’s “The King of Equations” in the Lean Manufacturing Journal for more information and tips related to Kingman’s equation).
03/03/2017 : 0 Comments
The Center for Disease Control, in it’s most recently updated Data Brief, listed the following as key findings:
- The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2015 (16.3 per 100,000) was more than 2.5 times the rate in 1999 (6.1).
- Drug overdose death rates increased for all age groups, with the greatest percentage increase among adults aged 55–64 (from 4.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 21.8 in 2015). In 2015, adults aged 45–54 had the highest rate (30.0).
- In 2015, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths among non-Hispanic white persons (21.1 per 100,000) was nearly 3.5 times the rate in 1999 (6.2).
- The four states with the highest age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2015 were West Virginia (41.5), New Hampshire (34.3), Kentucky (29.9), and Ohio (29.9).
- In 2015, the percentage of drug overdose deaths involving heroin (25%) was triple the percentage in 2010 (8%).
- Deaths from drug overdose involving heroin tripled from 8% in 2010 to 25% in 2015 (Figure 5).
- For drug overdose deaths involving natural and semisynthetic opioid analgesics, which include drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, the percentage decreased from 29% in 2010 to 24% in 2015.
- The percentage of drug overdose deaths involving methadone also decreased, from 12% in 2010 to 6% in 2015.
- For drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which include drugs such as fentanyl and tramadol, the percentage increased from 8% in 2010 to 18% in 2015.
- The percentage of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine increased from 11% in 2010 to 13% in 2015.
- Drug overdose deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential, which include drugs such as methamphetamine, increased from 5% in 2010 to 11% in 2015.
While the growth of traditional opioid abuse seems to have slowed down, the data shows that more and more people who are abusing drugs are switching to street drugs such as Heroine or synthetic opioids such as Fentayl.
See how Invistics’ Flowlytics software suite can help Pharmaceutical Registrants handle the tracking and electronic monitoring of their Controlled Substances with visual dashboards and configurable reporting.
03/02/2017 : 0 Comments
Our last blog post provided a general summary of Kingsman’s Equation and how it relates to your manufacturing operation. Today we’re going to delve a little deeper into the equation to prove that when it comes to lowering the Average Queue Time (or Average Wait Time) of your resources, Utilization is King.
For every system whether it’s a single machine or an entire factory, the time a resource spends as raw material or work-in-progress can be divided into two parts.
- -Process Time. This is value-added time it takes per machine or machines to process the resource and churn out a finished product.
- -Queue/Wait Time. This is non-value added time the resources are set aside to wait at the queue of machine or bottleneck, on a machine’s setup, etc
Lead Time = Queue Time + Process Time. In most manufacturing systems, the Queue time can comprise 80-85% of the lead time. This is all non-value added time that should be reduced in order to maintain a Lean operation.
Now let’s take another look at Kingsman’s equation:
AQT = Average Queue Time.
p = Utilization, expressed as decimal
Ca2 + Cs2 = arrival and process coefficient of variations.
τ = average process time
so what does this mean exactly? First let’s look at some examples where utilization(p) is at .25, .5, .7, .9, and .99. For these examples, we’ll just assume: (Ca2 + Cs2)/2 = 1 and process time(τ) = 60 minutes.
Case 1: If p = .25, Average Queue Time (AVQ) = (.25/(1-.25) * 60 = 20 mins
Case 2: If p = .5, Average Queue Time (AVQ) = (.5/(1-.5) * 60 = 60 mins
Case 3: If p = .7, Average Queue Time (AVQ) = (.7/(1-.7) * 60 = 140 mins
Case 4: If p = .9, Average Queue Time (AVQ) = (.9/(1-.9) * 60 = 520 mins
Case 5: If p = .99, Average Queue Time (AVQ) = (.99/(1-.99) * 60 = 5940 mins or 99 hours
In this example since (Ca2 + Cs2)/2 = 1, the STDEV of the respective variables would have to equal the mean to get 1. While such high variability does exist in the real world, it’s not very common. But regardless, this example is enough to illustrate two very important take-aways.
1.) Despite such high variability in both arrival and process times. If the utilization of the machine(s) is low, as it is in case 1 or case 2, the Average Queue Time is still manageable. This is because in terms of reducing your AQT, machine utilization is by far the most important factor.
2.) As you can see from the exponential increases in AQT over the cases, it is very, very wasteful to run your machines at such high utilization because your Average Queue Time goes through the roof. Can you imagine an 99 hour Average Queue Time for each of your products? And the screeching of your customers or sales reps? No thanks.
One final thing I should note is that the AQT in Kingsman is not the exact AQT, but more of a likely upper bound of your real AQT. Though it’s accurate enough to get the point across.
01/31/2017 : 0 Comments
The Wall Street Journal published an article summarizing how one company, Inditex, is beating the competition with speed:
The company’s ability to respond quickly to customer taste has long been the subject of industry study. Now its American rivals are emulating some of the short cuts that have helped Inditex expand to more than 7,000 stores in 92 countries and earn €20.9 billion ($22.1 billion) in sales last year, double what it earned in 2008.
This copy is for your personal, noncommercial use only. To order presentationready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers visit http://www.djreprints.com. http://www.wsj.com/articles/fastfashionhowazaracoatwentfromdesigntofifthavenuein25days1481080981 BUSINESS Fast Fashion: How a Zara Coat Went From Design to Fifth Avenue in 25 Days Few have been able to replicate the design-to-store pace that has made Inditex the sales leader
One way that Inditex speeds production is by making 60% of its garments in Spain and nearby countries. Retailers such as J.C. Penney Co. are now turning to closer suppliers in Central America, relying less on those in Asia. That, along with some streamlining in design and logistics, has cut delivery time of some J.C. Penney-brand items from nearly 10 months to about eight, the company said. Former industry leader Gap Inc., whose annual sales have been stagnant for the past decade, is moving some of its manufacturing from Asia to the Caribbean. It is also speeding up conception of some garments, sometimes approving new items for production within 24 hours.
Invistics helps manufacturers speed up their supply chain velocity by tracking Cycle Time between supply chain steps and implementing goals to accelerate the flow of products from initial production to shipment to the customer.
Call us at 1-800-601-3456 or email us to learn how we can help.
12/05/2016 : 0 Comments
This is the second in a series of blog posts that documents our journey in identifying and developing a plan and process for optimizing the inventory of measuring and test equipment (M&TE) at a large electric utility. In the first post we talked about identifying the problem. As Charles Kettering once said, “A problem well stated is a problem half-solved.”
Our problem simply stated was not knowing what level of inventory we needed to maintain for each of the over 2,000 models of M&TE we had to ensure availability under differing demands, while at the same time avoiding excess inventory and annual calibration costs. We also knew that our existing M&TE management database could not easily provide us with the answers.
One option was to try to develop the analytical tools in-house. As an engineer I’ve always been tempted to try to do it myself, but fortunately with age, some hard knocks, and sound input from my staff we took the wiser path and decided to look for outside expertise. The question then became which outside resource could best meet our need within our budgetary constraints?
We first developed a list of criteria that were important to us relative to the solution we would be seeking. These criteria were:
1. We needed a software solution that would interface with our existing database and not require us to adopt a whole new database solution for managing our M&TE program.
2. We needed a fully functional solution capable of being quickly and easily implemented but one that could be fully automated if we ever needed that capability.
3. We needed a service provider with the technical expertise to help us navigate through and meet all out corporate IT and cyber-security requirements related to the use of third-party software.
4. We wanted a service provider that would partner with us to ensure we obtained the results we needed, would provide hands on training, and would take a personal interest in our success.
As a regulated utility our procurement process required us to evaluate a number of suppliers to ensure our selection was both cost effective and based solely on merit. We therefore did a search of software solution providers and identified a number of products that appeared to be a potential fit for our need. Preliminary inquiries were made and the list was reduced to five potential candidates whom we determined had offerings capable of providing the analytics we were seeking.
More detailed inquires were made and it became apparent that three of the five solution providers would require us to adopt their inventory management system in its entirety in order for us to use there analytics modules. This left two provides whose solution would work with our existing M&TE database.
We set up detailed phone and then face-to-face interviews with both providers. We provide each with a sample of our data and asked them to demonstrate a solution based on our need and the data provided.
Both providers were able to demonstrate their software could determine basic usage patterns over time for individual model numbers based on various parameters we provided and both had acceptable graphical representation of the data. We made our final selection based on a comparison against our initial criteria.
• Criteria 1 – As noted, both the two finalists met the first criteria of being able to integrate with our existing database.
• Criteria 2 – Both had solutions that could handle all our current and future anticipated needs, but Invistics offered a simple initial solution which would get us up and running with less front end effort. They also detailed how they could fully automate the process when and if we desired but noted we might find the base solution was all we would ever require. The Invisitics solution also had the advanced analytics we were looking for as part of the base package. The other provider’s product appear to involve much more extensive front end set up before results could be obtained and they indicated that, “they were sure their product could do the analytics, but it might involve another module and some integration on our part.”
• Criteria 3 – We felt both providers could provide the necessary interface with our corporate IT and cyber-security folks based on their existing client base and their answers to our interview questions.
• Criteria 4 – Invistics showed a keen interest in understanding exactly what we were trying to achieve and provided a plan where they would work closely with us to craft the correct solution and provide us hands on training. The other provider indicated that while they could get us started, “their software was easy to use and they had on-line tutorials which would guide use through the process.” They seemed to be offering a more hands-off approach to partnering and support.
From a cost perspective both base solutions were comparable, but it appeared we might need an additional module from the other provider if we wanted the complete analytics we desired. That module was not included in the quoted price. The package Invistics offered would fully meet our need as quoted, but if in the future we decided to fully automate the process there would be some incremental increase in cost.
Based on all the factors, we chose the Invistics solution. The main driver for us was the sense that Invistics wasn’t just selling us a software solution, they were partnering with us to craft a solution that met our specific need and would be working with us to ensure our success.
Part III of this blog will share how the contracting, initial set up, and training went, and how Invistics helped us meet our initial objectives.
12/01/2016 : 0 Comments
In his recent article, Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C. Of Counsel, and former diversion investigator for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Larry K. Houck, explains the scope of DEA pre-registration and cyclic inspections as a step-by-step guide to actions and procedures registrants should take to prepare for and manage such inspections.
There were 3 sections in his article where Invistics’ Flowlytics software could be leveraged to provider better results:
Cyclic Inspections, i.e., when the DEA arrives unannounced up every 3-5 years to ensure the DEA Registrant has accurate and “readily retrievable” inventory records. Flowlytics lets you drill down into the location and quantity of all your controlled substance in real-time, with printable reports and accurate inventories that can be quickly retrieved and confirmed when the DEA calls.
Accountability Audit, i.e., when the DEA starting counting inventory and comparing it to the amount that should be on hand. The DEA starts with the quantity on-hand during the most recent biennial inventory, adds the receipts since then, subtracts the dispositions since then, and makes sure the current on-hand quantity matches this calculation, much like balancing a checkbook. Flowlytics greatly simplifies this by allowing internal auditors to print what they have in their electronic system and count the controlled substance in person to insure the system is accurate in case of an audit.
Records and Reports, i.e., when the DEA pulls a small sample of records to ensure they are accurate. Flowlytics Report Manager can consolidate data from multiple systems and has many built-in report templates that can be populated for multiple purposes such as the DEA Form 41 report or the Biennial Inventory Year-End Report.
Give us a call at 1-800-601-3456 if you’d like to learn more or see if we can help.
11/01/2016 : 0 Comments
“The survey indicates that factory output is dropping at an annualized rate of approximately 3 percent, and factory headcounts are being culled at a rate of around 10,000 per month,” Chris Williamson, Markit’s chief economist, said in a statement Monday. “Rather than reviving after a disappointingly weak first quarter, the data flow therefore appears to be worsening in the second quarter, raising question marks over whether [gross domestic product] growth will improve on the near-stalling seen in the first three months of the year.”