The transportation and logistics industry is quickly adapting to the changing needs of the pharmaceutical supply chain in the post Coronavirus phase. The pandemic taught a lesson to the freight forwarding companies specialized in handling pharma shipments. The industry has learned many new things about how to create and fortify its supply chain for the effective distribution of medicines, medical equipment, and vaccines. It’s been more than a year since the pandemic hit us and many countries around the world are still struggling to get the situation under control.
The pharma logistics companies have played a special role during these hard times by supplying the hospitals and health centres with medicines, vaccines, oxygen, and other health accessories. However, the transportation and logistics companies in this sector are facing numerous challenges that are becoming more intense by the day. In order to overcome the roadblocks, it is important for freight forwarding companies to inspect the key trends of the pharma logistics sectors in 2021. This is precisely what we are going to discuss in today’s blog.
The Coronavirus and the demands of the present pharma supply chain
All over the world, the transportation and logistics industry is trying to innovate and adapt to the demands of the pandemic. In several countries, we have seen how the pharma logistics companies had to deal with the shortage in PPE, ventilators, medicines, and oxygen. This brought to light how the countries are interdependent on each other for the continuous supply of live-saving materials. Moreover, since the pandemic hit us, the pharma logistics companies are also getting increasingly dependent on technology. For instance, they are making use of AI, machine learning, and a host of new technological innovations for providing more insight and visibility. In the US, the increased focus on expanding the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry will necessitate the creation of a strong and innovative supply chain.
Nationwide lockdowns and closed borders have made it amply clear that over-dependence of few sources of supply can be a dangerous thing. The pandemic has shown us the importance of local supply chains. It has also highlighted the importance of enhancing the logistics process as greater volatility internationally necessitates a flexible and resilient supply chain. In other words, the pharma logistics companies should be capable of dealing with all the sudden changes in circumstances. Additionally, it should also constantly evolve to retain its relevance in a changing world.
Therefore, the major lesson for the transportation and logistics industry was to come up with agile solutions that will deliver quick and effective responses to the transforming customer demands. They should be capable of providing tailor-made services and deliver life-saving shipments in the cheapest and most efficient manner.
Challenges of the pharma supply chain
Visibility of cargoes is important when it comes to the shipment of life-saving drugs. During the critical situation of a global pandemic, this visibility becomes all the more vital.
It is important for the pharmaceutical logistics operators to comply with the rules and laws pertaining to the movement of medicines and medical products. Therefore, they should make sure to be updated with all the changes in laws regarding the transportation and importation of these products.
The sensitive nature of these cargoes requires proper handling and careful movement throughout the entire shipping process. Therefore, now it is more important than ever to start investing in cold chain technologies and Hazchem-approved methods.
Understanding and awareness
Lastly, proper knowledge and in-depth understanding is imperative for the seamless running of all the aspects of pharmaceutical logistics. This includes all the processes starting from transportation, storage, and effective distribution.
The emerging trends of the pharmaceutical supply chains
End to end visibility
Even before March 2020, the entire logistics industry was already aware of the importance of visibility. Nevertheless, the Coronavirus has once again highlighted its significance for coping with the nuances and challenges of pharma shipments. Shippers have finally grasped its importance for controlling expenditure and improving client satisfaction. In fact, most supply chain hitches including miscommunication or lack of it, poor inventory management, delays, and errors can be traced back to inadequate supply chain visibility.
Visibility has become even more important since the start of the Coronavirus vaccination drive. Right now the most important challenges for vaccine transportation in most countries stem from lack of visibility. The transportation logistics industry has always been aware of the fact that pharma logistics and warehousing is a specialized area with a set of particular requirements. Additionally, vaccine transportation presents next-level complexities and challenges. For this reason, the pharma logistics specialists are increasingly adapting to the innovations for the accelerated distribution process.
Digitization and visibility are helping the freight forwarding industry to monitor risk, get real-time updates to ensure prompt delivery. Furthermore, the Covid-19 has also renewed the focus on increased collaboration not just between logistics companies but also among all the elements in supply chain management. Therefore, investment towards new technologies for improved traceability will be on the rise.
Improvement in temperature-controlled shipments
Not only the vaccines but several drugs require to be shipped under a strict temperature controlled environment. This is why the cold chain logistics service providers are investing in innovations in the field of warehousing, handling, distribution, and last-mile logistics. Technologies like blockchain, TMS (transport management systems), Internet of Things (IoT), CRM (customer relation management) software and robotics have finally come to the fore. Global movement of temperature-controlled cargoes has faced and is still facing considerable delays. These delays were due to lockdown, port congestion, reefer container shortage and other factors. For this reason, cold chain storage is quickly becoming an area of considerable investment and innovation.
We are also noticing environment-friendly endeavors in pharmaceutical logistics. This is coming in the form of the use of environment-friendly technologies and sustainable packing for waste reduction. By sustainable packing we mean the use of special packaging materials that have less environmental impact. The freight forwarding industry is now focusing on minimizing the use of plastic for lowering carbon footprints. Moreover, customers have also become very sensitive in this regard. As a result we find an increased interest in the use of recyclable packing materials that are not only sustainable but also cost effective.
In conclusion, it can be said that the pandemic has prompted the transportation and logistics industry in general and the pharma logistics companies in particular to rethink their mode of operations. It has led to the adoption of new ways for the effective delivery of healthcare goods especially in the remotest location and for the most vulnerable communities. Companies are embracing digitization to prepare for all kinds of disruptions and mitigate risks whenever possible. The chaos caused by the pandemic has prompted the pharma logistics service providers to think out of the box, innovate, and experiment with new technologies. Digital solutions are also enabling better performance, better supply chain responsiveness, increased agility, and improved operational efficiency in this sector.