Why should India adopt IoT for Pharmaceutical Supply Chain?
To ramp up efficiency, quality assurance and customer satisfaction!
Healthcare and pharmaceutical industries have always been crucial to the economy and human welfare. However with the rise in the pandemic affecting markets and people across the globe and with the unexpected demand of life saving drugs and new research for vaccines, the pharmaceutical industry is seeing a new rise in its growth trajectory.
India has been a leading global player in pharmaceutical industry, in terms of generic medicine. Made-in-India drugs supplied to developed economies such as the US, EU and Japan are known for their safety and quality.
India has been a major supplier of crucial medicines for some of the developed countries like USA, European countries and Japan. However China still holds the major share of pharma supply chain. With more than 70% of the global supply of raw materials and APIs coming from China, the pandemic and its after math has led to many companies rethinking their dependence on a single provider and is looking to diversify its supply-chain risks.
Pharma industry was initially a localized market, however when global markets opened up, it led to opportunities and supply chain from various countries. India already being one of the top players, technology players in Pharma business can capitalize on this opportunity to further empower the industry with reliability, quality and supply chain transparency for the country to have the leading edge in future.
Quality above everything for the Pharma business:
Pharma industry with its strict compliance policies and approvals from FDA and other agencies is always under pressure to deliver optimal quality.The industry deals with life saving drugs and in case of any deviance in quality, the brand reputation and lives at large could be at stake!
Right from manufacturing and storage to distribution the various stages of Pharma supply chain need to be under constant monitoring in order to track discrepancies and curb any damage. IoT can empower the pharma supply chain with continuous monitoring, predictive maintenance and remote automation that can save millions of dollars lost on reactive maintenance, unexpected downtime, delays and costly loss of approvals due to under qualified medicines.
Let us discuss the various stages of the supply chain like 1. Manufacturing 2. Warehousing and 3. Distribution and 4. Logistics where IoT and IoT powered remote monitoring and automation can instil a profound difference in the way the operations are carried, even during a global crisis.
Life saving medicines need to be of top-notch quality. Considering medicines deal with lives, it is highly essential for pharmaceutical companies to produce drugs at good quality and maintain standards and government regulations. Digitizing the manufacturing process by using IoT application and getting timely data can help identify discrepancies early. This will ensure quality and effectiveness of the drugs produced.
Automation in the processing and packaging along with continuous monitoring with IOT will help create visibility into the process. It will also make the process data available online for higher management and administrative staff who are working remotely in the current lock down scenario.
Testing and quality assurance take a different level when they are backed by process and manufacturing data. It is easier to identify and rectify issues or problems in quality by looking into the wealth of process data and help avoid such errors in future.
Warehouse and Storage:
Once the products are out of the manufacturing units, it is highly critical to store them at a conducive environment in the warehouse. Various aspects of the warehouse environment like the temperature, humidity, safety and hygiene can be monitored and managed using IoT applications. Moreover data from manufacturing can be effectively connected to warehouse data in order to plan storage ahead and also align staff and other supply chain processes for smooth transfer of products from one stage to another. Considering crucial times such as the recent pandemic which requires safety of staff and restricted movements, automation and proactive data from warehouse can help them stay on the vigil and also be alerted in case of any operational snag.
Logistics and Distribution:
Safe movement and delivery of medicines is as important as maintaining the quality during manufacturing and storage. When there is a spike in demand for life saving drugs, specially during such unexpected COVID -19 situations, it is important that pharma companies equip themselves with prompt logistics and distribution.
The advantage of using IoT application in the pharma supply chain business is that it isn’t restricted only to stationary assets and operations. IoT can be a major game changer in the pharma logistics and distribution. Be it safety, consignment tracking, order tracking or organizing and managing field staff, IoT applications can be used for different purposes within the industry. There are IoT applications to monitor the temperature and other aspects of drugs on the move by continuously monitoring the storage units of vehicles that transport the drugs. Besides, major factors like location of fleet, estimated time of arrival, fleet capacity, product capacity planning, distribution planning and even task allocation for the supply chain staff for loading and unloading can be managed using IoT solutions which are simple and effective visual applications. IoT applications can also engage field staff on the move with features to track locations, hospital visits, safety and other major factors that are crucial for business and management.
IoT for enterprise wide management in the Pharmaceutical Business:
Data is the biggest asset. With IoT to connect multiple aspects of the Pharma supply chain, it is only fair that the data obtained from various stages benefits the betterment of entire business operations. IoT can connect the data siloes of the different stages discussed, like manufacturing, storage and distribution, centralize the process and also offer valuable insights for the management to create better operational and business practices. Apart from centralizing the supply chain operations, a good IoT application should be able to connect the data with other enterprise applications like CRM and ERP will offer an enterprise wide orchestration of data that can offer seamless communication between teams even during limited workforce availability and unforeseen crisis.
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