In late August, I posted a blog entry about Cook Medical's advertising campaign, announcing that it had fully adopted the GS1 standards, including assigning Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) to all of its products. At the time, I asked the question, "Does Cook Medical see standards as a competitive advantage?"
In this guest blog, Gavin Seyler, Global Brand Marketing Manager for Cook's Healthcare Business Solutions, provides an answer:
Cook Medical believes standards make sense for healthcare and our business. About a decade ago, one of our sales and distribution companies was trying to efficiently manage inventory from multiple Cook manufacturing companies. But none of our manufacturers used the same product numbering system, and that made doing business difficult.
To solve this problem, product could have been relabeled and an item cross-reference maintained. But that would have been a manual, labor-intensive, error-prone process and would have put an additional barcode on our packaging. So relabeling wasn't a good option. We knew we had to do something. This was a problem many customers faced.
The solution we chose was to apply one product numbering standard to our entire global product catalog. We chose the GS1, GTIN standard because, at the time, it was the only standard recognized worldwide. We also created our Shared Customer Service Center to give customers one point of contact for any Cook product, regardless of which Cook company manufactures it.
Implementing the GS1 standards wasn't easy. Assigning GTINs to our products affected every part of our organization. Gaining the necessary internal alignment took time. We also needed a plan to handle any returned inventory that was not GS1 compliant. Work on this project has taken almost a decade to complete.
For Cook Medical, all of our effort to implement GTINs was worth it. GTINs simplify inventory management and improve the quality of information. They are also a step toward automated inventory replenishment and, when they're used in patient records, they can help you better execute a recall. Everyone in healthcare, including patients, benefits from the GTIN standard product language.
We're proud to be able to meet the January 1, 2013 GTIN Sunrise. It's one of the ways that Cook Medical is working to build a better healthcare supply chain.