Connecting the Disconnected at the Supply Chain Innovation Summit, Barcelona

By Graham Francis, Channel Marketing Manager, Kallik Ltd.

Last month’s Supply Chain Innovation Summit confirmed that there is a good deal of activity across the pharma industry right now to try to improve the efficiency of supply chain operations. Much of this is being driven by the need to improve levels of productivity and quality, but there are other drivers too; such as minimising inventory and responding to an increased demand for personalised medicines. Research into smart packaging being carried out by the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) is also helping the industry develop its technology roadmap. You could say much of what was discussed was around ‘connecting the disconnected.’

In terms of quality, we heard from CMAC that first time manufacturing across the industry is generally very poor – typically 60,000 defects per million which equates to just over 3-sigma. The effect of this being an estimated 25% of manufacturing resource being engaged in quality activities, with much of the pharma industry using ‘batch’ as opposed to ‘continuous’ manufacturing methods. Whilst manufacturing in batch was probably the best approach for blockbuster drugs, it’s not seen as best fit for producing more niche, personalised medicines. CMAC’s research in this area suggests a shift towards continuous manufacturing could deliver an 86% reduction in working capital across the industry.

This shift from ‘make from stock’ to ‘make to order’ is something that the automotive industry has been embracing for longer than is often thought. In fact, Toyota introduced this methodology back in 1953 and it’s what we now often refer to as Industry 4.0. Back then, it was the post-war scarcity of resources that drove this approach. Whilst today’s drivers are different, the adoption of lean manufacturing processes across the industry is what enables personal choice without the need for billions of dollars of inventory.

Of course, manufacturing is just one element of the global supply chain. We also heard from a number of suppliers offering broader supply chain solutions that could help the industry meet EU GDP guidelines. These seek to address challenges around logistics, environmental and temperature monitoring as well as track and trace. One pharma company having put such systems and processes in place shared with us how this helped to identify and eliminate sources of temperature violations. This saving weeks of investigative and reporting effort in locating the source of the problem.

Moving on to look at some other strategies embraced across pharma, agrochemical and cosmetics industries, we heard how Leo Pharma, Novartis, Syngenta and COTY had introduced greater accountability across all forecasting activities. This resulted in reduced stock-outs, cut inventory and improve traceability. Despite operating across different markets, the drive towards having one single version of the truth, greater process transparency and increased levels of personal accountability were common themes that delivered results.

So, how does this align with our vision for ‘connecting the disconnected’ when it comes to labelling and artwork? Actually, many of the concepts discussed at the summit apply equally to labelling supply chains as they do product. In fact, a product doesn’t become a product until it carries a label. That’s one of the reasons why we believe enterprise-wide engagement is essential in getting label content right first time. Encouraging greater transparency, supporting personalisation through late stage printing while adopting cloud-based technologies to achieve higher levels of collaboration are also concepts we support. It’s great to see the industry embarking on new initiatives in these areas and it’s something we will continue to support and encourage across all regulated industries.

If you’d like to learn more about how Kallik can help you innovate across your labelling supply chain, please feel free to leave a reply below or get in contact with us here.

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