Sometimes a medical device is like a boomerang, making a return trip to the shop under circumstances that make the customer unhappy. These are the times when trusting a returns professional and creating a deftly handled reverse logistics program can ease the tension and improve the operations of a depot repair or distribution operation, and put a smile back on your customer’s face.

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Medical device repair companies are learning how they and their customers can benefit from better-managed returns. An outsourced reverse logistics program can save not only money, but also space and personnel. As a result, the reverse logistics industry is thriving.

“Outsourcing of virtually any function is driven from the belief that A, it is not a core competency of my company, and B, that there are specialists whose core competency it is and who can bring greater efficiencies, more value, better systems and processes or lower cost to my operation,” states Robert Brown, director of service logistics solutions at USCO Logistics, Franklin, Mass. “This applies to medical device repair depots as much as other businesses.”

A reverse logistics program enables companies to recycle, repair, replace and dispose of products. It doesn’t always mean the end of the product, but can mean a new life for the product and maybe some profit for the company if something can be rescued from the trash bin. By using a third-party logistics provider, a medical device repair company saves on fixed overhead costs and the cost of using valuable service technicians as warehouse clerks, and it doesn’t need space to store and sort returned equipment. The other benefit, customers appreciate hassle-free logistics.

“A defective or non-operating product is a source of irritation for the user of that equipment. It is even more of an issue if that customer must package the item, arrange for its movement to the repair depot, and perhaps even pay for that transport,” explains Frank Fischer, vice president for logistics at InSite Logistics, LLC, of Fenton, Mo. “A medical equipment repair company that uses an outsourced reverse logistics provider can spare the customer the hassle of dealing with the logistics of the return, day or night. By offering a turnkey solution, a repair firm can turn an unfortunate event into an opportunity to please the customer. This can help increase sales revenue by fostering repeat business and differentiating the repair company in its marketplace.”

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