Supply Chain Digitalization

Enter Supply Chain Digitalization | The Future of Biopharma

The pharmaceutical industry has undergone a profound transformation in recent years, fueled by unprecedented technological advancements. The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data has revolutionized drug discovery, development, manufacturing, and transportation. These innovations have also accelerated new therapies’ time-to-market and significantly reduced research and development (R&D) costs.

Adding to these advancements, in a recent Deloitte survey of over 100 biopharma executives from industry-leading companies, a compelling trend emerged: nearly two-thirds reported increased profits as a direct result of their efforts to digitalize their supply chain. Deloitte further hints that pharmaceutical supply chain digitalization is on the verge of massive adoption, with 33% of organizations ready to scale efforts in the next five years, and another 33% anticipating a complete supply chain transformation with the help of digitalization. That’s only logical: on top of increased revenues, digitized organizations also enjoy the benefits of improved risk awareness (50%), elevated warehousing efficiency (48%), and reduced sourcing expenditures (47%) in their pharmaceutical supply chains.

This blog explores the current state of biopharma supply chains and the need for a digitalized future, as well as the technology that will be required to support such efforts for optimized and efficient supply chain operations. 

The Current State of Pharmaceutical Supply Chains

According to Deloitte, the pharmaceutical supply chain is grappling with multiple challenges that negatively affect its efficiency and resilience. Chief among these are persistent delays due to inbound supply chain disruptions and manufacturing bottlenecks, which lead to unnecessary downtime and batch failures. These setbacks hinder the production of critical medications and contribute to increased costs and potential prescription drug shortages.

Another pressing issue is the lack of transparency throughout the biopharma supply chain, slowing the communication of time-sensitive information to appropriate stakeholders. The absence of real-time, end-to-end supply chain visibility makes it difficult to address recalls or product quality concerns.

Finally, the sector struggles with ever-evolving regulatory frameworks. Deloitte points out that authorities are increasingly digitalizing their systems and leveraging technologies like AI to mine submission data and identify discrepancies. To navigate these changes, biopharma companies must proactively embrace digitalization in their supply chains to ensure that processes and systems meet standards regarding safety, quality, and assurance.

The Drive Towards Digitalization

Technology that supports supply chain digitalization is essential to solving these challenges. With raw material and manufacturing delays causing pervasive issues, real-time monitoring systems track inventory levels to anticipate potential bottlenecks and minimize downtime. Transparency gaps can be managed with comprehensive supply chain platforms that provide full end-to-end visibility. These solutions help eliminate blind spots and give stakeholders access to the critical information they need to take action quickly. 

To further illustrate this point, Deloitte’s study shows that 20% of respondents have strategically expanded their organizational capabilities for supply chain visibility. This includes the implementation of dynamic tools, with 22% utilizing dashboards that provide real-time insights into supplier performance. Another 20% established command centers dedicated to monitoring operational metrics, and 26% invested in systems that offer comprehensive visibility into product fulfillment and returns.

Additionally, as regulatory scrutiny escalates, biopharma companies can utilize advanced analytics and data-driven insights to ensure compliance and pre-emptively address potential inconsistencies. The digitalization of supply chain processes is more than a technological upgrade–it’s a strategic imperative that enables pharmaceutical companies to cultivate a resilient ecosystem.

The Ideal Tech Stack for Supply Chain Digitalization

Due to the complexity and nuance of the biopharma supply chain, it is evident that only a holistic approach can optimize efficiency, minimize errors, and pave the way for strengthened resilience. But what makes up the ideal digital supply chain management system?

In-Transit Visibility

In-transit visibility lets companies monitor the real-time location, status, and conditions of goods in transit, providing a comprehensive and up-to-the-minute view of inbound and outbound orders. Real-time shipment tracking enables swift reaction to disruptions, like unexpected delays, adverse weather conditions, and other logistics issues. Full visibility also supports proactive exception management, or the ability to identify and address potential issues before they escalate. Through this, businesses can mitigate risks, minimize their impact, and maintain high customer satisfaction.

Transactional Visibility

Transactional visibility collects data from various sources and merges it into a centralized system, providing a powerful tool for uncovering supply chain inefficiencies and hidden costs. In addition, transactional visibility plays a pivotal role in detecting savings opportunities by analyzing data for potential optimizations, contract renegotiations, and more cost-effective strategies.

Financial Visibility

Financial visibility involves forecasting freight spend, allowing firms to anticipate transportation costs accurately to enhance budgeting and financial planning. Measuring routing guide compliance ensures adherence to predetermined shipping routes and carriers and can help organizations negotiate more favorable terms with carriers. Financial visibility also extends to freight invoice auditing to reduce errors and minimize over-payments. 

Data Ownership

Ownership of supply chain data enables pharmaceutical supply chain operators to adhere to industry regulations, maintain transparency, and mitigate potential legal risks. Internally, data ownership facilitates governance practices and establishes standardized processes to monitor performance metrics and increase accountability. This strategic deployment of supply chain data for internal reporting gives companies actionable insights to make thoughtful, data-driven decisions. Equally crucial is sharing relevant data with stakeholders to foster collaboration and build trust.

As the biopharma supply chain continues to digitalize and evolve, innovative technology solutions emerge as key enablers of this transformation. 

Agistix: A Comprehensive Digitalization Solution

Agistix delivers all the components of a digitalization tech stack, in a centralized comprehensive platform. Their supply chain management platform empowers biopharma stakeholders to:

  • Gain control over every shipment–inbound and outbound–regardless of where and how it was booked.
  • Accurately rate various modes and carriers and compare anticipated charges with invoiced costs.
  • Locate and add details or documents to any shipment throughout its lifecycle, maximizing its utility upstream in the ERP, downstream for freight payment, or within internal reporting systems.
  • Harness automation to extract data from key supply chain partners, unveiling hidden insights to drive strategic supply chain decisions.
  • Utilize robust integrations for data exchange, from advanced APIs to traditional data exchange methods like email and spreadsheets, without disrupting operations or requiring IT resources.

To learn more about Agistix’s solutions for digitally enabled pharmaceutical supply chains, request a demo today.


Trevor Read

President at Agistix based in San Francisco. I am an entrepreneur with a passion for data, and technology. I am results-oriented and committed to developing fast-deployment solutions to help customers seize the new opportunity coming from big data in the global supply chain.