The quantity of blood required for patients is random. The quantity of blood donated is random. Fresh blood is perishable. When both supply and demand seem so uncertain, how much blood should be held in blood bank inventory? Too little and lives could be at risk; too much and precious resources will be wasted.
IDTC student Nigel Clay partnered with the Australian Red Cross Blood service to develop a model to optimise hospital order quantities and blood bank requests for donation, ensuring that fresh blood is available when and where it is needed most.
Using a novel approach, the model addresses the interaction between dynamic supply and demand behavior. This continual feedback has not been previously incorporated into blood supply optimization models. By incorporating such feedback into the model, it can adjust to disturbances in the supply chain, providing blood banks with optimal inventory levels to minimize both shortages and expiration.
It may also have flow on effects outside of blood in other industries that utilise perishable products with uncertain supply chains.