Controlant has launched a new Podcast called “Pharma Insights,” where they examine how pharmaceutical companies can digitalize, automate, and transform their supply chains.
In the first episode, “Pharma Supply chains,” Jane Appleton sat down for a discussion with VP of business development Ada Palmadottir and VP of sales Ranald Haig about the challenges the pharma supply chain faced during Covid-19, the role of technology, sustainability, and what the future holds.
- The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted business as usual and pushed companies to listen to what their employees and customers want and need, including better environmental practices.
- The role of technology has never been more critical, and exciting developments, including unit-level tracking, are on the horizon.
- Sustainability is more than a buzzword; more companies are embracing sustainable practices as the impacts of climate change are being felt, and there‘s more demand for pharma companies to do more.
The Covid-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event forcing the pharma supply chain to face challenges on a massive scale, including delays, missing goods, and vaccine excursions.
This is a time of reflection for the industry as some companies fared better than others. “We saw that those that have more control over their supply chain with real-time visibility were in a much better situation because they would know the exact location of the shipment,” said Ada.
Companies learned much from Covid-related supply chain challenges as billions of vaccine doses were shipped worldwide. “During Covid-19, the challenge was how do we make sure that people are getting life-saving vaccines as soon as possible when they need them to protect them,” said Ranald.
Technical innovations in the pharma supply chain to look out for
Crucial technological developments are being closely watched, with automation being one of the most critical. “Everybody’s been working overtime, working all the hours that they can to make sure that things are getting where they’re supposed to be at the right time,” said Ranald.
“And I think what they want now is that time back. They want to automate processes and free up time to deal with the important things from a work standpoint and a work-life balance.”
In the wake of Covid-19, some say there is a new frontier in pharma supply chain monitoring innovation. So, what technological revolutions are on the horizon for the pharma supply chain?
Unit-level tracking is one of the most exciting advances just around the corner. „I think we’re going to get to that point where it’s not necessarily, real-time tracking, but it knows where every unit is at any given moment,“ said Ranald. „As such, you know what’s been sold, and we can ramp up and ramp down production of drugs on a massive scale.“
Pharmaceutical companies have produced billions of vaccines in a very short period of time. „So now we’re learning that we could also produce drugs using that same just-in-time delivery system,“ said Ranald. „
To do that, we need to know where everything is within the supply chain. We need to know what’s on a pharmacist’s shelf and what’s in the warehouse for local distribution. We need to know what’s being produced today, and we’ll do that through several different methods: bar codes, label tracking, and QR codes.
Sustainable practices in the pharma supply chain are increasingly important
A big theme of the past few years across all industries has been sustainability, impacting pharma companies regarding how they’re being held accountable for supply chain waste.
Some companies are making significant progress in this area. Indeed, there’s been a massive shift in the market, and sustainability is given equal weight to things like price and deliverability. The race to achieving net zero is on.
According to Ranald, “2030 seems to be a date that most pharmaceutical companies are adopting and saying, we want to be net zero by then. I read the other day that one pharmaceutical company is demanding that all suppliers use renewable energy by 2035.”
And that extends to Controlant as well. “Companies like ours are looking into how we can be responsible and sustainable,“ said Ada. „
And we do that as a vendor for our customers; we do things the right way, how we produce, and we have reusable devices. But on top of that, we can help analyze the supply chain for our customers. And here is where our technical information and platforms play a huge role in identifying the opportunities to reduce the freight’s weight and use cheaper packaging.”