Cochlear Given Stamp of Approval From Australia's Best Magazine and Included Within Bean Media Group's Latest Magazine.

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Australia's Best Magazine tend to choose very carefully on which companies they feature in their magazines, however, Australian-based Cochlear has been given reason to cheer as the company has been confirmed in Australia's Best Manufacturing.

Cochlear has been included in the much-anticipated 'Australia's Best Manufacturing' magazine, which is due for release in July 2008. The feature includes an exclusive interview with Greg Bodkin, Cochlear's supply chain boss.

Greg Bodkin, Head of Supply Chain for Cochlear talks to Australia's Best about supply management and the importance of strategic partnerships.

Cochlear Limited is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. Since 1983, Cochlearâ„¢ has remained the market leader in its field thanks to an unwavering commitment to technology innovation, reliability, hearing performance and customer support. Cochlear's Nucleus® cochlear implants and Baha® bone conduction implants provide solutions for different types of hearing loss. Today, over 100,000 people worldwide have either a cochlear implant or a bone conduction implant. Cochlear's promise - Hear now. And always ¬- articulates Cochlear's lifetime commitment to be here now and always.

Proficient supply chain management is often seen as the most integral part of a company's growth. How does this apply to Cochlear?

"As a global organization that develops, markets, supplies and distributes a very technical product for the medical devices industry, Cochlear is very reliant on developing effective supply chains across the globe to meet its quality, customer service and cost goals.
In order to manufacture our product we have suppliers from Europe, America and the Asia Pacific delivering goods and services to our Brisbane and Sydney manufacturing operations. They are then converted into our final products which are distributed to our Asia Pacific, European and Americas regional offices for delivery into our clinic and recipient customer base. As lead time is a critical success factor in our business, our supply chains need to be responsive and reliable in order to meet the expectations of the market place. We have put in place a number of operational activities to ensure that the efficiency of our supply chain is maintained and improved."

What methods does Cochlear have in place to ensure effective supply chain management?

"At Cochlear we have established a number of initiatives that assist in the management of our Supply Chain. Some examples of this include -

"Supplier Evaluation Program - this program involves contract managers establishing with our critical suppliers a set of deliverables around quality, delivery and cost that meet the needs of Cochlear's and the suppliers business. The deliverable are tracked on an agreed timeframe, which is normally weekly for the key measures. Three monthly reviews are then held between representatives of Cochlear and the supplier to review the performance and address any issues that are present in the supply chain with that supplier

"Tracking of our Distribution Performance - we have implemented with our distribution partners monthly performance data of distribution times to our regional offices from the Sydney and Brisbane operations to ensure that agreed times are being met

"Sales and Operations Planning - monthly Sales and Operations planning meeting are held with all regional offices and the central Sydney planning team to enable production plans to be established that are in line with customer demand. Quarterly strategic reviews are also held to extend the planning horizon out into the future to address longer term capacity requirements

"Inventory Management - strengthening our inventory management practice and systems in order to optimize our use of capacity, cash and facilities to better meet service expectations of our customers

"ERP System Leverage - having implemented a single ERP platform across the global Cochlear organization, we are actively seeking ways to leverage this investment in order to optimize and improve our supply chain planning and execution

What role do your suppliers play in achieving Cochlear's company goals and objectives?

"Our suppliers play a critical role in Cochlear's objective being met. If they are not able to supply the components or services that we require to assembly our implant systems and accessories at the right quality and at the right time and cost then Cochlear's ability to service its customers need are significantly impacted. As a company, Cochlear spends significant time and effort in identifying, reviewing and selecting the right suppliers to partner with in order to have an effective supply chain. We have implemented a formal program for review for potential suppliers to achieve this outcome.

Existing suppliers are continually reviewed through the supplier evaluation programs and quality / regulatory audit program to ensure that their performance is at the required standards."

How have you formed quality strategic partnerships with your key suppliers?

"Part of the evaluation process involves an assessment of our supplier base in terms of their importance to Cochlear and Cochlear's importance to the supplier. This assessment, together with the more traditional considerations such as spending, technical specialty and risk determine whether or not a supplier falls into the strategic partnership category and hence becomes part of the final supplier evaluation program. We currently have around 20 suppliers that are considered critical enough to have strategic partnerships established."

Why do you feel effective supply chain management is of vital importance to your company?

"We are a global organization that develops, markets, supplies and distributes a very technical product for the medical devices industry. Effective supply chains across the globe are absolutely vital for Cochlear to meet its quality, customer service and cost goals. Effective management and development of our supply chains is recognized with in the business as being one of the key drivers for current and future success at Cochlear in an increasingly global market place. ", said Greg.

Key suppliers to Cochlear include CUC, Russell Symes and SOS Print.

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CHRIS DUTTON
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