Visibility noted as the biggest challenge to pharma logistics

on March 17, 2020

• Industry experts note visibility as the biggest Pharma logistics Supply Chain Challenge
• Healthcare tapping into the potential of an increasingly connected world
• ‘IoT’ the cure for industrial connectivity in pharma
• Greater visibility allows for efficiency improvement, costs reduction and an undeniable competitive advantage.

The logistics industry is experiencing a boom, led by the pharmaceutical industry, in the demand for shipping temperature sensitive items. The cold chain, as it’s known in the industry, is the name for the specific supply chain sector dedicated to ensuring the safe delivery of items susceptible to temperature variants, hot or cold.

At the end of 2016 the revenue from shipping in this sector reached almost $1,000 billion and has since shown no signs of slowing. As shipments, revenues and volume increases in the pharmaceutical industry so too do the problems noted by those in the industry creating plenty of room for improvement. In a study by DSV of 67 pharmaceutical supply chain executives, visibility and transparency of shipments featured heavily as the most prominent challenge that they are faced with.

When asked about the biggest challenges in the pharma supply chain the top two responses were areas with close ties in supply chain visibility and quality of service. While these problems exist IT integration is listed much further down the challenges, suggesting that the technology and resources to fix these problems are not of concern, but the lack of a solution that is scalable and implementable on a global level.

Visibility has been noted as the biggest challenge to Pharmaceutical Supply Chains . Via DSV

Seeing the gap and emerging need for cold chain shipping many logistics providers have set up entire speciality divisions to deal with these industry specific requirements. Recognising the issue of visibility, experts in the field of pharma logistics have pointed towards technology and a further connected world as the key to improving the state of the cold chain. Described by some as the fourth industrial revolution a world of connected objects, assets and products, known as the Internet of Things, is well and truly here. 

“Innovation is the engine that improves efficiency, reduces costs and generates competitive advantage.”

With the Internet of Things becoming a more and more feasible way of collecting data globally the number of connected devices is set to reach close to 80 billion by 2025. Though the logistics industry as a whole has recognised IoT as a future driver of network optimisation, the array and availability of a whole host of data, specifical temperature, has made it especially applicable to the pharmaceutical sector.

The impact of the Internet of Things on the pharmaceutical industry is highlighted by William King in a piece for PharmExec.com as he states, “It is my belief that, as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to evolve, healthcare will be able to tap into the potential of an increasingly connected world. The current growth of connected devices is steadfast from wearable devices to in-home virtual assistants, so the dream of a fully connected world is steadily becoming a reality, and it could mean big things for healthcare.”

Image & data via Statista

“Today, health information is scattered and siloed, with healthcare providers, payers and manufacturers often seeing a different version of the truth”.

The current state of the logistics industry, with its many contractors, sub-contractors, part time workers and outsourced shipping, has left a gap in the version of truth provided around shipments. As shipments pass through many different companies, carriers and countries, the ability to track and trace individual items becomes a tireless task. While the ability to monitor temperature and location does exist for the pharmaceutical industry, many are relying on loggers that do not report in real-time, are not cost effective and do not get to the root of any problems.

ParceLive enables a version of truth and visibility that is indisputable to all parties in the supply chain. The tracker provides the customer with multiple sensor technology such as GPS positioning, temperature, humidity, light, shock and tilt data directly from their shipment no matter who’s carrying it or the country it’s in. With live data as a service with trackers that are used and then returned via free-post, ParceLive ensures a scalable solution that directly combats the greatest challenges faced by the industry; Lack of visibility and quality of service.

Although the ‘ability to integrate’ is not noted as an issue in the pharma logistics industry, ParceLive’s API based data feed provides the perfect plug into existing systems. This allows for live data feeds to flow directly from the field into customer management, customer service or SAP systems.

Now seems no better time ensure that life saving drugs are arriving at their intended destinations. With viruses such as COVID-19 sweeping across the globe causing panic and confusion, we must remain calm and use the appropriate resources that are available to help combat this issue.

Stephen HartnettVisibility noted as the biggest challenge to pharma logistics