At Chemonics, we believe that those who have the least deserve our best. For more than 40 years, we’ve strived to help people live healthier, more productive, and more independent lives.

In 2015, we won the $9.5 billion USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program – Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project. Our mission was twofold. By consolidating earlier systems into a more efficient supply chain, we could improve delivery of lifesaving medical commodities to the developing world. We also aimed to transfer supply chain technology and expertise to partner countries.The stakes could hardly have been higher. The GHSC-PSM project delivers vast amounts of medicines and health supplies for disease control, voluntary family planning, reproductive health, and maternal and child health to some of the world’s most remote regions.

The project has delivered enough anti-retroviral treatment to provide 3.9 million years of treatment for HIV/AIDS and enough antimalarials to treat 122.6 million infections. A single line item of 1.36 million malaria bed nets translates into 32, 40-foot cubic containers—equivalent to the size of 25 football fields. On any given day, GHSC-PSM manages 5,700 such orders in our system.

Given this sheer size and the lifesaving nature of the products being delivered, late deliveries, inventory inaccuracies and stockouts can have serious consequences.

Cost-effective and on-time supply chain

Given the enormity of the challenge, we decided to develop a solution that would combine Chemonics’ development expertise and field resources with innovative technologies from private sector companies.

We developed the ARTMIS solution, short for Automatic Requisition Tracking Management Information System, in concert with a consortium of commercial partners. These include SGS Nederland for quality control, Kuehne + Nagel for logistics management and IBM Services for supply chain expertise and development assistance. IBM also provided cloud-based software for ecommerce, contract and order management, collaboration and predictive analytics.

After some challenges at the outset, our supply chain solution works better than anything seen in the developing world to date. By late 2018, ARTMIS helped procure  $1.35 billion in health commodities to approximately 60 countries, and in Q4 on-time deliveries were well above the 80 percent benchmark.

Data visibility—creating a sole source of truth

The solution has provided data visibility in our 5,000-product ecommerce catalog. Previously, in-country workers had to take orders, put them in Excel files and email them to headquarters for collation and processing.

Today, ARTMIS is everyone’s sole source of truth. IBM software powers an open and transparent catalog and an order management platform that lets our teams take orders from the field, aggregate them and use the data for planning. They can create supply forecasts and place orders 12, 18 and even 24 months in advance, helping manufacturers plan better so they can reduce costs.

Distributed technology through the cloud

Another benefit is ARTMIS’ ability to distribute its technology worldwide. Based on the IBM Cloud, the solution is accessible to USAID experts, our team in Washington, DC, manufacturers in China, India, and others worldwide, freight logistics personnel around the world, and staff in overseas health ministries and warehouses. Everyone can collaborate to track orders and speed deliveries along the supply chain.

ARTMIS also provides rich analytical capabilities. IBM software integrates data from modules for ecommerce, finance, quality control and logistics, and then transfers it across the system to job-specific dashboards. There, IBM tools for predictive analytics and decision support enable strategic planning, performance management and process optimization.

These capabilities help us deliver lifesaving commodities at reduced cost—in 2018 alone we saved $88 million usable for more purchases. What’s perhaps most exciting, however, is Chemonics’ work to transfer supply chain technology and expertise to people at the local level. If we can do that, we’ll help them progress on a journey of self-reliance—and move closer to the goal of every development organization, which is to work ourselves out of a job.

Watch Jamey Butcher discuss health supply chain transformation in the developing world:

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