Insights / Customer stories

Distica tells its story of working with Controlant’s visibility platform

Distica is the premier logistics, warehousing, and distribution firm that handles pharmaceuticals, life sciences, and medical products to hospitals, pharmacies, and health clinics throughout Iceland.

Descriptive image of pharmaceutical manufacturing.

For more than 60 years, Iceland’s Distica has made a name for itself as the premier logistics, warehousing, and distribution firm specializing in handling pharmaceuticals, life sciences, and medical products to hospitals, pharmacies, health clinics throughout the country. Leading global companies, including Pfizer, Novartis, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Novo, MSD, and Teva, have partnered with Distica to ensure the safe transport, storage, and delivery of their clinical products for consumption by patients and consumers. And currently, Distica is monitoring the COVID-19 vaccines throughout Iceland, safeguarding the temperature-sensitive doses as they are distributed to patients.

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Distica's values of reliability, candor, and progress are reflected in its mission to be the leading service company in the importation, logistics, and distribution to Iceland's healthcare market. From business operations and quality managers to customer service employees, Distica uses Controlant solutions to work together cross-functionally, track location and quality conditions in real-time, and ensure patient-centric service that delights consumers. By partnering with Controlant, Distica is able to minimize waste with prevention methods, giving the team peace of mind that the products will be safe.

A need to ensure compliance and safety of delivered products

Environmental fluctuations can damage or spoil condition-sensitive products requiring temperature monitoring, which Distica manages. If variations occur and remain unknown, pharmaceutical products, including shipped vaccines, can lose their efficacy, or worse, become dangerous for human consumption. Product damage and waste can lead to exposure to liability as well as shortages in needed medical supplies, particularly within isolated locations throughout Iceland.During the H1N1 flu outbreak in 2009-2010, Distica had been using a variety of tools to track and manage their inventory and assets, including the H1N1 vaccine. However, the technology solutions did not provide adequate visibility and control, including the ability to proactively prevent damage or waste. The company works with a subcontractor as its transportation partner for shipments throughout Iceland, and Distica needed to closely monitor shipments from distribution through the last mile of their journey.

At the rate their business was growing, it was clear that a better solution was needed—one that provided a simpler way to maintain access to shipments across its entire supply chain. As an ISO-certified company, Distica also is required to maintain accurate records and shipment event logs for compliance purposes, as well as for audits from their customers and partners.

The decision to adopt Controlant in 2010 was inspired by the solution's ability to proactively collect data and send real-time notifications, providing Distica’s team with the flexibility needed, the ability to actively monitor shipments, and ways to communicate any updates with their customers. The Controlant solution provided Distica a way to safeguard the valuable H1N1 vaccines as they were distributed throughout the country and helped stem the rise of influenza cases.

“[Using the Controlant solution] has been a great experience for us at Distica because pharmaceuticals are very sensitive to temperature. We feel very comfortable when we are monitoring the temperature with Controlant loggers,” said Julia Ros Atladottir, Distica CEO.

Accurate shipment monitoring and tracking

Since implementing Controlant's data loggers and real-time supply chain visibility platform, Distica has been able to actively intercept many at-risk shipments before assets spoiled.

For example, in a recent shipment, Controlant received alerts sent via the Controlant cloud-based platform, indicating that temperature deviations from pre-set shipment parameters had occurred in outbound shipments that were heading to pharmacies throughout Iceland. The shipments had Controlant's internet of things (IoT) monitoring loggers attached to track shipment condition and location in real-time.

After investigating, Distica discovered that assets had been placed in extra trailers attached to their transportation partner's vehicles due to a heavy volume of outbound shipments due to the holiday season. Cold external temperatures resulted in significant temperature droppages within the trolleys, placing pharmaceutical products at risk. While some assets were damaged, Distica was able to intercept a number of remaining shipments by contacting their partner and correcting the placement of assets.

Distica is also playing a vital role in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. The company has a contract with the Icelandic government and is responsible for warehousing and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines in Iceland. “We distribute COVID vaccines weekly throughout all of Iceland, which include data loggers from Controlant in each shipment. With the Controlant solution, we can easily track real-time data on temperature and location, among other things, in all of our shipments. It makes us feel confident and comfortable knowing that these indispensable vaccines and medicines are being carefully monitored by Controlant and that their efficacy is guaranteed.” said Ólafur Jónsson, Facilities and Equipment Supervisor, Distica.

Achieving corporate sustainability goals

A key value-add from using the Controlant solution is that it helps Distica meet its sustainability objectives in several ways. Each year, the biopharma industry loses approximately $35 billion annually due to failures in temperature-controlled logistics. After an excursion, these products are rendered unusable and end up in landfills. There is an environmental cost associated with the manufacture, transport, and distribution of the replacement products, including water consumption, plastics produced (and discarded), CO2 emissions, and fuel.

“Sustainability is very important for us at Distica,” remarked Atladottir. “The Controlant loggers are reusable, and that is environmentally friendly. And also, when we are using the loggers in transportation, if there is a temperature deviation, we can contact the driver and take action. We have a yearly goal on sustainability, and the Controlant solution supports our goals.”

Another way Controlant supports Distica’s efforts is through multi-use data loggers. Historically, most companies have utilized single-use USB data loggers for their quality condition monitoring programs. At the end of the supply chain journey, loggers are removed from a shipping container, data is retrieved from the logger, and the device is subsequently discarded, which creates a considerable amount of e-waste. Distica deploys Controlant’s multi-use loggers to maintain the quality conditions of the pharmaceutical products throughout storage, distribution, and transport. If companies are to reach their corporate sustainability goals, they will need to vastly improve the supply chain to minimize waste.

Transparent collaboration and service — a platform that empowers people

With so many different departments using Controlant, Distica has been able to adopt better processes company-wide based on the insights received from the Controlant platform. Customer service is just one team using Controlant’s solution at Distica. Vally Helgadottir, Controlant’s Chief Services Officer, explained, "Controlant's platform allows Distica’s Customer Service Department to seamlessly monitor shipments to its customers. The visual representation of data is easily readable and allows Distica to react immediately to each deviation. Most importantly, using Controlant, Distica can assure customers that products have been transported within the specified temperature ranges, ensuring quality and safety."

Separately, Distica’s quality management team uses Controlant to collect reports on shipment data and to verify that shipments have been delivered according to established requirements. When customers and partners ask for specific shipment information or seek to audit the company's shipment records, they can easily provide them with the requested shipment reports.

Business and operations use the Controlant platform to obtain high-level and drill-down shipment views to track any product damage and loss, and calculate liability, as well as money saved from proactive interventions. By collectively accessing real-time and previous shipment information through a single platform, teams throughout the company are empowered with the relevant data they need to perform their job better.

Another crucial benefit of partnering with Controlant is having access to our 24/7 Monitor and Response Service (MARS) team, who are available in the background to facilitate corrective action if escalations occurred, according to the manufacturer’s instructions or specific business rules. When a shipment has an alert or escalation, notifications are sent to the correct parties based on product integrity, location, and other risks, like pallets being split up, longer than usual dwell times, or other incidents that can compromise quality conditions. Having a 24/7 team ready to take action on Distica’s behalf gives the company the opportunity to prevent waste around the clock.

How Distica integrates with Controlant

Using Controlant's API, Distica has integrated the cloud-based software platform with their existing systems, gaining a more comprehensive overview of their inventory, orders, and outbound shipments. According to Distica, the Controlant cloud-based platform is easy to use, scalable, and integratable. Being able to connect multiple systems together enables more collaboration with all stakeholders, improved decision-making based on data, and faster response times that prevent product loss.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP): By integrating Controlant with the ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Distica can connect outbound shipment information with customer orders.

Warehouse management: By integrating with the warehouse management system, Manhattan Scale, Distica can monitor product inventory and identify which customer shipments require Controlant's temperature loggers.

This sort of integration gives greater insights into what happened along the supply chain and distribution journey. As Distica continues to increase its use of real-time visibility, it can answer the second question: “What is happening?” so the team can be proactive and mitigate risk. They can also answer, “What will happen?” This is enabling businesses to execute planning in an entirely new way.

"With Controlant, Distica can actively monitor every shipment to our customers, which was previously not possible. The solution has been fully integrated into our packaging and ordering procedures. Including a Controlant IoT logger in a shipment is now as standard as picking a medicine box." – Sigurður Traustason, Quality Manager, Distica.

"Controlant has made it simpler for us to be GDP compliant in a cost-efficient way. It has become a core part of our logistics and is easy to use." – Ólafur Jónsson, Facilities and Equipment Supervisor, Distica.