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Discover real-time value creation – key pharma insights from the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium

The Gartner Supply Chain Symposium concluded in Barcelona last week, after three days of inspiring and insightful presentations and conversations. During the event, Controlant presented its new holistic solution framework designed to digitalize and automate pharma supply chains, in which Controlant’s Aurora Platform takes center stage.

Roger Smith, Vice President of EMEA Supply Chain Operations and Customer Support at Pfizer,  and Gisli Herjolfsson, CEO and co-founder of Controlant at the Gartner Supply Chain Symposium 2023

Embracing the impossible

Roger Smith, Vice President of EMEA Supply Chain Operations and Customer Support at Pfizer, took to the stage at the Gartner Symposium with Gísli Herjólfsson, CEO and co-founder of Controlant, in a presentation about how a culture that embraces the impossible delivers unimaginable results.

When $35 billion is lost every year in the pharma industry due to temperature-controlled logistics failures, and medicines are more greenhouse gas intensive than cars, there is a clear opportunity to innovate for a more sustainable pharma supply chain.

Smith and Herjólfsson elaborated on the partnership between Pfizer and Controlant and the culture that has emerged from this partnership. Set against the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the partnership produced innovative new ways of working and scalable tools to support the delivery of over 6 billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine with a 99.99% success rate.

Pharma supply chain as bottleneck or enabler?

Today, more than 70% of pharma suppliers still report that they lack the visibility to apply fast and effective solutions to supply-chain disruptions.

In addition to existing challenges of waste, manual release processes, excess safety stock, and other inefficiencies and supply chain disruptions, the road ahead for pharma will only become more complex. In the past 20 years, over $2 trillion have been invested in developing new medicine and vaccines, and over 50% of the products coming out of that R&D pipeline are more complex and sensitive than typical small-molecule medicine.

New breakthrough treatments and drugs will revolutionize healthcare, but they also require new distribution models. Without a transformation of the pharma supply chain to match the pace of developments in the pharmaceutical industry, we risk higher CO2 emissions, higher product and financial losses, and less potential to improve global health outcomes.

Introducing a powerful platform for end-to-end visibility and control

Real-time visibility and automated decisions are at the heart of addressing today’s challenges around waste, quality, equity, efficiency, and other issues, but are also key to strengthening supply chain resilience for the future of the pharmaceutical industry.

Enter the Controlant Aurora Platform, introduced at the Gartner Symposium as part of a holistic solutions framework for digitalizing and automating pharma supply chains. The platform builds on validated and GxP-compliant real-time data and automation that is effective and easy to integrate. In their presentation, Herjólfsson and Smith shed light on how Controlant’s real-time visibility platform, coupled with Saga IoT devices and services, is transforming the distribution of medicines and vaccines, with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as a case in point.

Connecting with the industry

The Controlant team took the opportunity to connect with many leaders and experts from a range of organizations and functions at their booth and at the Controlant Café in the expo hall.

From the energetic buzz of conversations in the expo hall and from leaders on stage sharing their knowledge and case studies, a few themes emerged:

  • Supply chains as strategic drivers of collective value and growth
  • When it comes to the building blocks of planning, from configuration to execution, resilience is just as important as accuracy
  • To understand what ‘real time’ really means, redefine it at the process level
  • Digital tech initiatives are the number one priority for Boards of Directors, yet technologies are falling short of expectations
  • There’s a gap between access to data and use of that data in connected decision making
  • Empathy and adaptivity as critical leadership skills
  • For today's supply chain managers, there is a shift in mindset from independent to interconnected
  • Supply chain transformation involves reinvention on several fronts, including achieving sustainable outcomes and executing real-time decisions

From real-time visibility to real-time decisions

Each theme could be a whitepaper in itself, but the examples give a taste of how the pharma supply chain currently exists in a state of flux. They highlight the enormity of the challenges at hand, as well as the potential gains in overcoming these challenges through achieving actionable, real-time visibility.

As Maria Nieradka, Gartner’s Research VP Life Sciences Supply Chain, adeptly summed it up in her presentation at the event: “Real-time visibility is great, but if you are not making real-time decisions – and are not able to execute those real-time decisions – it doesn’t matter. It needs to be ‘digitalization with a purpose.’”