Pharma Logistics Tomorrow: How Your Business Can Capitalize
In the previous two issues of our in depth series on pharmaceutical logistics, we've been exploring the rapidly growing and increasingly important issue of pharmaceutical logistics. In Part I of this series, we talked about the need for time-critical air transportation that has been created by increased globalization and the steady growth of the health care sector. In Part II, we revealed that there are some considerable data and infrastructure challenges that must be first be surmounted before the air cargo industry can confidently transport pharmaceutical goods. In this final part, we'll now talk about how an alliance betweeen airlines, governments, and next generation IT providers can allow life saving drugs to take to the skies.
There is a clear need to improve the quality of the supply chain by having common standards, service levels and clear roles and responsibilities for all parties involved. IATA and other governing bodies can play a significant role in bringing together the diverse stake-holders in the pharma logistics business under a single regulatory framework.
From an infrastructure perspective, governments and airport operators should support developing infrastructure in situations where member airlines do not have the scale or depth to build their own pharma logistics infrastructure. They will be able to optimize through economies of scale should there be sufficient traffic to justify the investment. The Hyderabad airports pharma zone is a classic example of how airport operators can support the pharma shipment needs of their customers – airlines and forwarders alike.
Information Technology: An Elegant Solution for a Complex Problem
Information Technology can help to plug many inefficiencies in the supply chain. IT solutions offer enhanced communication between shippers, forwarders and airlines, the first step necessary to ensure product integrity. Advanced track-and-trace technology with the help of on-board chips, GPS technology, mobility solutions etc. offers near real-time access to not only the current condition of pharma consignment but its entire shipping history as well. Transparency and collaboration by all pharma supply chain stakeholders is key to the success of the temperature sensitive pharma logistics industry.
Innovation Case Study: iCargo Transport Logistics
iCargo, the Cargo Management Solution from IBS has the enhanced capability to fully support temperature controlled "cool products" of its customers. The solution is presently live at one of our customers in Europe, who is using it to manage their global "Cool Product" solution predominantly constituted of pharma shipments.
The solution has fully automated the key processes in the "Cool Product" supply chain and offers end-to-end transparency to shipments from booking administration to handling and dispatch (transportation plan, ULD check sheet etc.) to monitoring shipments (registering temperature reading periodically as planned - per SLA), rule based oversight of warehouse movements and updates to system administration (customer data master, rules for monitoring warehouse, ULD configuration etc.). Almost all activities can be SLA based, which offers excellent opportunity for monitoring the flow of shipments and their status.
The solution has scope for expansion with advanced capabilities to send alerts to configured users on their tablets, smartphones etc. as well as integration with monitoring hardware to get live feeds of temperature, battery life etc. Tying up with ULD service providers will facilitate real-time information sharing of ULD requirements, enhancing preparedness.
iCargo solution is also playing the role of a facilitator of information to all parties in the supply chain increasing transparency and managing the information for operations by the airline. The airline benefits from a fully automated solution which reduces the hassles of the manual process, while analysis of the data points collected by the application will provide market insights for customer and help them optimize weak links in the solution.
The pharma customers of airlines will benefit from having peace of mind in shipping high value, critical medical supplies through a trusted carrier who provides them with end-to-end monitoring of the shipment for process and compliance requirements, making medical supplies available in the shortest time to the end customer at optimized costs.
Aging populations, chronic/lifestyle diseases, emerging-market expansion, and treatment and technological advances are expected to spur life sciences sector growth today and in the years to come. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) expects that growth in global healthcare spending will accelerate by an annual average of 5.2 percent in 2014-2018. As the global pharma supply chain becomes increasingly complex as a result of increasing healthcare spending, the regulatory requirements surrounding transportation of temperature controlled pharma will become both stricter and wider in scope and reach. Partnerships between logistics service providers will become key for business expansion ably supported by IT vendors supplying the right tools for operating temperature sensitive products and services.