Novel and Improved Approaches to Automated Inventory Management

2 Submissions
18 Views
$15,000 USD
Due:  18th Jun 2024

Challenge overview

OVERVIEW

Roche, the Seeker for this Wazoku Crowd Challenge, is looking for novel and improved approaches to automated inventory management.

Inventory management is a complex field of business management that covers different phases of dealing with supplies: their ordering, delivery, storage, and use. The goal of inventory management is to be able to have the right amounts of materials in the right place at the right time. 

Different approaches are currently used to record the entry of materials and their use, and in recent years, these approaches have become almost exclusively digital. However, these approaches still require significant user effort; moreover, they’re highly sensitive to human errors, which are difficult to minimize. 

It is therefore necessary to continue to look for alternative, novel and innovative, approaches to track materials — as they arrive at R&D facilities and stored there until being used — in a simple, intuitive, inexpensive, and, ideally, fully automated way. 

By taking part in this Prize Challenge, you are granting Roche a right to use your submitted information; however, Roche must determine award winners within 60 days from the start of evaluation, otherwise Roche loses this right.

This Prize Challenge requires a written proposal to be submitted and the total guaranteed award of $15,000 will be paid, with awards to at least one submitted solution. There is no assignment of IP Rights with this challenge.

WIN Scouts are very much invited to participate, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or expert) from your network. As a WIN Scout, by referring a relevant partner you will be recognized with a share of a separate $500 recognition award if your referral meets certain minimum criteria of detail, relevance, and format. The input required is guided during the submission process for WIN Scouts below.

In this Prize Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own.
  • Submit third-party information that they have the right to use and further, the authority to convey to Roche this right with the right to use and develop derivative works.

Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 18th June 2024.

- Login or register your interest to start solving and scouting!

 

ABOUT THE SEEKER & ELIGIBILITY

 

Our story: We are Roche

A healthier future. That’s what drives us. 

And as the world evolves, so do we.  For over 125 years, we have taken on some of the most complex challenges in healthcare. 

Listening and responding to the ever-changing needs of people around the world.

We focus on the long-term, leading investment in research and development, striving to improve lives today and for generations to come.  

We’re advancing science to ensure everyone has access to the healthcare they need.

Always innovating, we bring together dedicated people and diverse perspectives from across our global network, empowering each other to keep breaking new ground. 

But we can’t do it alone. To succeed we collaborate – with each other, with our partners, with governments, with patients. 

Proud of what we do, we’re here because we care. 

Our work creates a future where we all have more time with the people we love.

That’s what makes us who we are. That’s what makes us Roche.

The following individuals or organizations shall not participate as a Solver in this Challenge:

  1. Persons or Organizations in any condition of conflict of interest with Roche;
  2. Healthcare Professionals or any person that can prescribe, recommend or administer a Roche medicine (“HCPs”);
  3. Healthcare Organizations (“HCOs”), its employees, and/or members of the boards;
  4. Patient Organization defined as non-for-profit legal person/entity (including the umbrella organization to which it belongs), mainly composed of patients and/or caregivers, that represents and/or supports the needs of patients and/or caregivers;
  5. Patients participating in clinical trials for Roche’s investigational medicines and/or medical devices or taking Roche’s medicines;
  6. Employees and contractors of Roche and its Affiliates or their relatives and/or family members;
  7. Employees whose employers’ guidelines or regulations do not allow entry in the Challenge process.

WIN Scouts are very much invited to participate, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or expert) from your network and be recognized with a share of a separate $500 recognition award. 

Wazoku welcomes WIN Scouts and referred partners to become active members of Wazoku Innovation Networks (WIN).

Find out more about participation in Wazoku Crowd Challenges.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Background

Inventory management is a complex field of business management that covers different phases of dealing with supplies — their ordering, delivery, storage, and use — and involves different internal and external stakeholders. The goal of inventory management is to be able to have the right amounts of materials in the right place at the right time. 

Performing inventory management requires R&D departments of large companies to closely track multiple items along their supply chain, which, among other things, holds a promise of massive savings, for example, within tail spend management, storage management, waste management, etc. 

So important inventory management has become that new research facility buildings are now constructed with embedded automation systems of the supply chain control (like computerized cabinets or fridges, weight-sensor-based shelves, etc.) Unfortunately, introducing such advanced systems in existing buildings (the so-called brown fields) is complicated due to potential massive (and expensive) infrastructure changes to achieve this goal. 

Different approaches are currently used to record the entry of materials and their use, and in recent years, these approaches have become almost exclusively digital. However convenient the digitalization of inventory management could be, it still requires significant user effort; moreover, it is highly sensitive to human errors (which are difficult to minimize). 

For that reason, there is a growth in popularity of the so-called fully operated systems that require minimal or no effort by the user; the most common examples of such systems are:

  • Smart shelves
  • Video tracking
  • RFID tracking
  • Unique barcodes
  • Voice-powered digital assistant
  • Material-handling robots
  • Drones
  • Automated storage & retrieval systems

There is still an urgent need to continue to look for alternative, novel and innovative, approaches to track materials — as they arrive at R&D facilities and stored there until being used — in a simple, intuitive, inexpensive, and, ideally, fully automated way. We’re looking for approaches that will not only allow us to dramatically improve tracking in an R&D setting but could also potentially inspire a change of processes in warehouse management in general.   

The Challenge

The goal of this Challenge is to identify novel and improved approaches to tracking supplies at R&D facilities in large companies engaged in chemical and biopharmaceutical research.

We envision that the proposed tracking system (technology or process) will be introduced at the point of the ordered supply items to be delivered to the central storage facility serving many individual labs and units. It is assumed that each individual lab or unit can occupy space starting with 100 m2, with an appropriate storage room located either within the lab or in the adjacent space.

The proposed tracking system is expected to be of “plug-in” type in the sense that its integration into the existing infrastructure should not require massive investment (such as a change in the building architecture) or re-configuration of already existing tracking systems. 

We also envision that the proposed system will be able to track diverse types of materials:

  • Laboratory equipment: devices and small lab equipment (glass- and plasticware, etc.).
  • Laboratory supply: liquid and solid reagents, including those that are delivered on dry ice and then stored frozen.
  • General-use equipment: books, lab journals, paper, printing accessories, office supply, etc.

Ideally, the proposed tracking system will use the same technology for all types of supply. However, we’re willing to consider approaches to tracking each type separately on the condition that all the records will be kept in a single database. Regardless, it is expected that all the supplies will be tracked down to individual unit (i.e., individual package) level. 

We cannot overemphasize that we expect the proposed tracking system to dramatically reduce the amount of time end users spend on managing their supplies. Ideally, the proposed tracking system will be fully automated and require only one dedicated operator (or a very limited number of them) responsible for whole-system operations.

Important:

  • Our priority is to identify a completely novel approach that has not been considered in the field of inventory management before. However, we’re willing to consider approaches that propose a unique way of using one — or a combination of a few — of fully operated systems listed above.
  • We’re also willing to consider approaches that can be “borrowed” from other areas of business management. The Solvers, however, are expected to provide a thorough explanation of how the proposed technology can be applied to the field of inventory management. Any information regarding the providers of involved technologies will be highly appreciated.

 

SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS

We’re open to any innovative approach for as long as the proposed tracking system meets the following Solution Requirements:

  1. The proposed tracking system will be able to track ordered supplies from the point they enter the central storage facility and to the point of their utilization by end users in individual labs and units.
  2. The proposed tracking system will be able to track diverse types of materials. A clear preference will be given to the tracking systems that can track different supply types in a uniform way.
  3. Ideally, the proposed tracking system will be fully automated, so that no more than just a few operators will be needed to control it at the central storage facility.
  4. The proposed tracking system should operate at R&D labs of various sizes, starting with 100 m2, with an appropriate storage room located either within the lab or in the adjacent space.
  5. Ideally, the proposed tracking system will be of a “plug-in” type in the sense that its integration into the existing infrastructure will not require massive investment or re-configuration of already existing tracking systems. 

At the same time, we’re not going to accept solutions that:

  • Require unique and expensive equipment or demand the installation of a special infrastructure into existing research facilities.
  • Rely on unproven early-stage technologies that will require years to validate and implement.

Solutions with Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1-3 are invited.

This Prize Challenge has the following features:

1. By taking part in this Prize Challenge, you are granting Roche a right to use your submitted information; however, Roche must determine the award winners within 60 days from the start of evaluation, otherwise Roche loses this right. You will receive notification.

2. There will be a guaranteed award of $15,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $5,000 and no award being smaller than $2,500. 

3. The award distribution will be determined after theoretical evaluation of the proposals by Roche.

4. Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own.
  • Submit third-party information that they have the right to use and further, the authority to convey to Roche this right with the right to use and develop derivative works.
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use.

5. WIN Scouts are invited to participate, this being any Solver who can propose a potentially suitable partner (startup or expert) from your network. As a WIN Scout, by referring a relevant partner you will be recognized with a share of a separate $500 recognition award if your referral meets certain minimum criteria of detail, relevance, and format. The input required is guided during the submission process for WIN Scouts below.

6. Roche may also issue “Honorable Mention” recognitions for notable submissions that are not selected for monetary awards.

7. Roche may wish to partner with the Solver at the conclusion of the Challenge. Please indicate your interest in partnering.

YOUR SUBMISSION

Please login and register your interest, to complete the submission form. 

The submitted proposals must be written in English, and in your submission form response and attachments, you should include:

  1. Participation type – you will first be asked to inform us how you are participating in this challenge, as a Solver (Individual), Solver (Organization) or WIN Scout – (submission uses an alternative form).
  2. Solution Stage - the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of your solution, TRL1-3 ideation, TRL4-6 proof of concept, TRL7-9 production ready.
  3. Partnering - there may be an opportunity to partner at the conclusion of this Challenge. Please indicate if partnering is of interest to you.
  4. Problem & Opportunity - highlight the innovation in your approach to the Problem, its point of difference, and the specific advantages/benefits this brings (up to 500 words).
  5. Solution Overview - detail the features of your solution and how they address the Solution Requirements (500 words, there is space to add more in the summary field below, and to add any appropriate supporting data, diagrams, etc.).
  6. Experience - Expertise, use cases and skills you or your organization have in relation to your proposed solution (up to 500 words).
  7. Solution Risks - any risks you see with your solution and how you would plan for this (up to 500 words).
  8. Timeline, capability and costs - describe what you think is required to deliver the solution, estimated time and cost (up to 500 words).
  9. Online References - provide links to any publications, articles or press releases of relevance (up to 500 words).

Wazoku encourages the use by Solvers of AI approaches to help develop their submissions, though any produced solely with generative AI are not of interest.

Find out more about participation in Wazoku Crowd Challenges

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on 18th June 2024.

Late submissions will not be considered.

Your submission will be evaluated by the evaluation team first reviewing the information and content you have submitted on the submission form, with attachments used as additional context to your form submission. Submissions relying solely on attachments will receive less attention from the evaluation team.

After the Challenge submission due date, Roche will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the winning solution(s) according to the timeline in the Challenge header. All Solvers who submit a proposal will be notified about the status of their submissions.

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