After highlighting the trends that drive tomorrow’s pharma logistics in this blog post, the following article explains

  • how to make use of big data to simulate supply chain risks, and
  • how to envision your future supply chain by uncovering current weak points through a data-science-based supply chain assessment

It is crucial to maintain full control and transparency of the supply chain in terms of costs, transparency, reliability and safety. If the supply chain gets disrupted e.g., by bad weather, or shipments get cross-labeled, increased lead-times and product as well as monetary losses are the result. In addition, the customer’s trust in your product safety and supply chain reliability may be jeopardized. It is hard to plan for this, but more important today than ever. Fortunately, today’s tools and technologies allow you to simulate these scenarios and assess the impacts of certain events on your supply chain. The subject of a supply chain assessment can be the identification of cost and service opportunities as well as improvements related to risks, reliability, and control.

Virtual GDP-Compliant Risk Assessment

Let’s take a deeper look at the requirements in terms of supply chain control and transparency:

Reliability does not just mean delivering the right product at the right time to the right customer, but also ensuring product safety regarding the product-specific approved temperature range (see this article on the why, how, and what of temperature control for details). Technically, the use of suitable packaging, temperature or humidity trackers, efficient processes, and adequate logistics equipment such as active or passive loading devices, thermo blankets or climatized loading areas are different ways of addressing those supply chain requirements. The question is how to best select the most adequate and cost-efficient lane-packaging combination in winter or summer, with very limited effort and still fulfilling the regulatory requirements.

Good Distribution Practice (GDP) requires the provision of a risk assessment as an alternative to active temperature control. Based on operational industry knowledge and state-of-the-art data science, it is possible today to quickly simulate and identify potential risks in your supply chain where product safety due to temperature deviations is endangered. An example: Analyzing the shipment of medications from “cold” origins like Germany to hot or warmer regions like in the Middle East, both too cold as well as too hot temperatures might be the findings depending on the season, the routing and the daytime of the shipment. Accordingly, optimized packaging as well as adapted and flexible routing can be a result of such equally fast as well as comprehensive and detailed analysis, drastically limiting or even avoiding the costly testing of selected “route-packaging combinations”.

Storage Risks

Beside the product safety during transport, it is advised to also review risks related to storage facilities specifically when dealing with emerging markets. Direct-to-pharmacy, for example in prospering markets like MEA, as well as the direct-to-patient distribution are upcoming market segments providing the chance of further growth. The mega trend “immediateness” regarding the availability of products almost “anywhere at any moment” also includes these two new segments. Therefore, reviewing the required capacities per temperature range, the related temperature mapping of your warehouse locations, minimum stock requirements according to the public service obligations (PSO) as well as the selection of capable and reliable logistics service providers can significantly push supply chain stability and provide competitive advantages. This of course needs to happen prior to the pre-go-live temperature mapping of any new facility.

Best-Practice Supply Chain Assessment

A best-practice supply chain assessment builds upon your strategic and tactical planning and combines the evaluation of process improvement opportunities with those related to your supply chain IT systems, assuring that neither of the two becomes a hindrance in supporting the current and future business requirements. Furthermore, data analytics and simulations allow you to identify and mitigate risks in a fast and comprehensive way.

If you want to know more about how to envision your future supply chain and discover weak spots you need to work on, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Read more on Pharma Logistics from CAMELOT.

We would like to thank Christoph Treiling for his valuable work on this article.

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