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The value of automation and real time visibility for pharma supply chains

Key takeaways from LogiPharma EU 2023.

Logipharma EU image use

Discussion at LogiPharma.

To put this year’s LogiPharma expo in context and highlight the enormous opportunity for digital transformation in the industry: according to Gartner, 96% of pharma supply chain leads say having real-time decision making is an essential capability, while only 7% believe they currently have real-time decision making as at least a partial capability. 

While our focus in Lyon was on how pharma companies can create the most value from real-time visibility and supply chain automation, the team also brought back invaluable insights into the current state of the pharma supply chain and glimpses into its future.  

We were very conscious of how much the discourse has shifted since LogiPharma 2022, where a lot of conversations were about how to get real-time data from IoT devices. Just one year later, the focus is on how to enable real-time decision making and intelligent automation in our supply chains. 

 On topics covering everything from autonomous product release to the carbon intensity of pharma and logistics operations, presentations and conversations at the event were an especially rich source of inspiration. Here are some recordings from these interactions so you can listen for yourself. 

Pharma Insights Podcast - Takeda Interview: View now 

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION with Roland Straub, Global head of data, digital and technology at Takeda Pharma, and Peter Eichmueller, VP Sales at Controlant. 

Straub and Eichmueller’s conversation takes the form of a Q&A covering everything from the key pillars of digital transformation at Takeda to the benefits of real-time data-driven decision making, such as minimizing business disruption in their supply chain. 

Hear what Straub says about automation, optimization, and an autonomous supply chain. Data availability is a key challenge, but what about sustainability and supply chain disruption? 

“If you can automate the initial part, make sure it’s autonomous, that’s an important step because this will help redirect resources to the real business problems… so you’re no longer doing the firefighting on a day-to-day basis,” says Straub. 

“Real-time data means we know at the moment in time of the process what is going on […] so you can react immediately, you can bring things back on track at a very fast pace and make sure there’s no business disruption or impact, or that’s it’s very minimized. … You can steer the business in a different way, faster, more agile, with the lowest business impact possible.” 

LogiPharma EU 2023 fireside chat: Sign up to view 

Using Control Tower 2.0 to Navigate Complexities of Temperature-Controlled Operations.

Tomas Fant, Pfizer, and Martin Thaysen, Controlant

SIGN UP to watch this recording of the fireside chat with Tomas Fant, Pfizer’s Head of Temperature Controlled Logistics Projects, and Martin Thaysen, CCO at Controlant. Their discussion about the 24/7 control tower includes learnings from the past few years, as well as looking ahead at how to keep optimizing to get the most value from data. In addition to the value of real-time decision making, they considered the difference between visibility and automation in decision making, with a focus on IA rather than AI, and the future of the pharma supply chain command centers. The real-time-real-world-real-value insights from this session were referenced in later sessions at the expo. 

Request to watch this fireside chat

 “What changed, what did real time enable you to do, beyond the obvious interventions, what value did you derive from that?” asks Thaysen. 

“For example, classically we’ve done a lot of lane risk assessments, and lane SOPs, but when you had a high rate of disruptions, the lanes kept changing all the time,” says Fant. “So having that real-time control meant that you could actually be looking over your supply chain in real time and taking those actions or interventions.”  

“The biggest value is when things aren’t going to plan, because that’s when all your lane SOPs and other documentation isn’t accurate any more,” he adds. “So, you can empower the people who are taking action and looking after those shipments… And even sharing that data.” 

What about AI – are we on the verge of a huge shift in the way things are done?  

“We have to walk before we run! We still have many processes that are just paper processes that have been scanned into a digital form, but they’re not actually full databases that are interconnected or being used in a smart way, and we do see that pharma still has silos with the data and different elements of it,” says Fant.  

“So in that sense I think there is still a lot of groundwork that has to be done, that will already bring a lot of value. So, not AI but, before that, IA – intelligent automation – we’re now at the maturity where we can automate so many steps, and we can do that in parallel, while keeping an open mind for AI and more advanced technologies.” 

LogiPharma EU presentation: Sign up to view 

Zero-Touch Release: Creating Tangible Patient Value with the Partner Ecosystem Approach

Dino Liquito, Roche, Gisli Herjolfsson, Controlant

SIGN UP to hear from Dino Liquito, Global PM at Roche, and Gísli Herjólfsson, CEO Controlant, as they explain how the two companies have collaborated to extract maximum value from automating the product release process. They illustrated a value case from Intelligent Automation of product release processes – achieving 99.5% release of products with zero human intervention – and a 97% reduction in average release times. 

Zero-touch release: creating tangible value with the partner ecosystem approach

Liquito and Herjólfsson explained how they let value find the data, because identifying recurring points of repetitive, manual processes (such as manual handoffs) adds up to enormous potential gains in efficiency and effectiveness. Their presentation highlighted that to ensure the best ROI, organizations need to prepare internal systems to support business process automation. The conversation returned again and again to the importance of trustworthy, accurate, enriched, real-time data – as there’s a direct correlation between the quality of the data and the value it delivers! 

“If you look at it from a business perspective, what we really want to be able to do is provide the best possible service to the customers and ensure that when the product itself arrives and they're consuming or using it, the efficacy can be ensured,” Liquito explains. “And through having data available in real time and being able to rely on that data and be able to release products, we're able to do that.”  

“Automating doesn't mean reducing the quality of the overall service that's delivered. I think the contrary: taking those manual steps that were previously in the distribution network and automating them has actually made the products or the process itself more robust and therefore made our ability to service the customer or the patients more efficient overall.” 

The value of sharing the right data 

Just as real-time visibility into shipments gives pharma companies the oversight to make processes smoother, faster, and simpler, we hope that by providing you access to these recordings we have inspired you in whatever role you play in the industry, from supply chain manager to receiving site quality inspector.