Supply chain

Trends Influencing the Future Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Management

Trends Influencing the Future of Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Management

Trends Influencing the Future of Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Management 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Pharmaceutical supply chains continue to evolve even as the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic shows signs of improvement in some countries (the U.S.) and worsening in others (India). Key trends include:

  • Geographically diverse suppliers
  • Sustainable sources of raw and packaging materials
  • Increasing use of computer technology to help manage companies

How chief financial officers (CFOs) and chief operating officers (COOs) of pharmaceutical companies respond to growing demands while facing labor shortages in areas hard hit by the pandemic largely depends on their ability to obtain raw materials and then manufacture and ship finished products.

Reports in SupplyChain Brain, EazyStock and Manufacturing.Net state that supply chain management trends likely to influence the pharmaceutical supply chains near term include increased use of:

  • Diverse (i.e., multiple) suppliers for improved resilience
  • Sustainable supply chain sources
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and pharmaceutical warehouse management software (WMS) to improve management of the overall business, including the supply chain
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) to boost productivity and decrease errors
  • Cloud-based technology to permit scaling small and medium businesses as they grow using mutable
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to track products ranging from individual batches to complete orders
  • Robots and other forms of automation to perform labor-intensive tasks
  • Flexible supply and delivery sources permitting personalized shipments
  • Layering technologies to eliminate data silos and create actionable data across technology platforms
  • Blockchain to improve transparency in data sharing using immutable databases Smart contracts that automatically execute when a set of conditions is met

Geographically Diverse Suppliers and the PSC

Having a geographically diverse source of raw materials such as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) becomes important in a world proven so susceptible to pandemics. Companies whose primary suppliers are in India (currently suffering an uptick in coronavirus cases), for example, may find their suppliers are short-handed and unable to fulfill orders. CRB Group states supply chain challenges from rare events also include:

  • Transportation issues and disruptions
  • Adding counterfeit material into the supply chain
  • Site closures
  • Lack of coordination and traceability causing inventory build-ups or shortages

According to GoMarketWise, having a diverse supply chain also provides:

  • Access to innovation outside your organization
  • Flexibility to respond when market conditions change
  • Competitive pricing at local levels
  • Specialization many small to medium businesses (SMBs)

Sustainability in the Pharma Supply Chain

Many organizations across all business sectors are looking at climate-smart supply chain planning because of the effect of climate change on the availability of resources and materials, a report in All Things Supply Chain cites a Harvard Business Review study claiming companies advocating for sustainability grow 5.6 times faster than brands that don’t.

One area impacted by sustainability is product packaging. A study by Pelican BioThermal quoted in The LoadStar states that 48% of respondents claim to be looking for packaging that is recyclable or can easily enter the waste stream. Larry St. Onge, president of DHL’s global sector, life sciences and healthcare is quoted as saying his customers’ packaging would become a strategic priority in the near future. “This is of utmost priority because 25% of the global 8.3 billion tons of plastic produced originates from packaging and more than 90 countries have imposed bans on single-use plastic.”

“A more sustainable pharmaceutical supply chain (PSC) should be implemented to match future operations and management of the pharmaceutical products across the entire life cycle,” a look at Pharma Industry 4.0 on ScienceDirect states.

Further restricting the adoption of sustainable processes in the PSC are high costs and time consumption, enforcement of regulations, a lack of business incentives, lack of objective benchmarks, poor end-customer awareness and other issues.

Increasing Use of ERP and WMS in Pharma

Pharmaceutical companies are increasing their use of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and warehouse management software (WMS) from companies like Microsoft to improve management of the overall business, including the supply chain. Software add-ons automate many previously manual tasks, such as inventory optimization and shipping solutions, EazyStock states.

A report by Grand View Research states the market size for WMS programs is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2021 to $8.1 billion with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.3% from 2021-2028 with a CAGR of more than 17% in WMS software alone. The WMS market was $348.6 million in 2016.

Grand View Research cites healthcare as one of the biggest growth sectors as companies seek to increase product output and meet rising customer demand. “A WMS helps reduce lead time, increase product delivery speed and minimize distribution costs,” Grand View states.

Much of the increased demand for pharmaceutical WMS software is expected to come from small- and mid-sized businesses using it on a cloud-based computing system. WMS software, “is widely used as a tactical tool by businesses to meet the unique customer requirements of their supply chain and distribution channel,” the report indicates.

Figure: 1 Recent Trends in Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Management Trends

Using Robots in Pharma Factories

Robots offer several advantages over human workers in select conditions, a report by TweakYourBiz states. including:

  • Increasing worker safety when assembling implants and drugs containing radioactive or biohazardous compounds
  • Reducing contamination by having robot-only areas
  • Performing repetitive tasks to perfect efficiency, increase productivity and eliminate human error
  • Retooling and refitting a robotic ensemble to perform different tasks
  • Automating high-throughput screening (HTS) for chemical or biological compounds
  • Scanning products to identify potential counterfeits

“Robots provide improved reliability and result in fewer rejects and material waste,” the TWB report concludes.

Smart Contracts and the PSC

Administrative expenses are a significant part of PSC expenses, which add 7% – 8% to the final cost of a pharmaceutical product, a report by Exyte claims. Administrative staff is required to handle invoices and send payments. These processes are automated when using smart contracts that automatically execute using a transactional computing protocol when stated conditions are met.

However, these contracts use blockchain technology to, “verify, validate, capture and enforce agreed-upon terms between multiple parties,” Finextra states.

Summary

As businesses strive to increase their efficiency and performance, increasing diversity in terms of raw materials sources, APIs, using software to help manage operations with robots and other forms of automation on both factory and warehouse floors continue to rank high among emerging pharmaceutical supply chain trends.

Looking to transform your pharmaceutical supply chain? Get a free assessment with XcelPros!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Advantages of material requirement planning

Advantages of a material requirement planning system (MRP) vs. manual planning

Advantages of a material requirement planning system (MRP) vs. manual planning 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

While it wasn’t a strong consideration for chemical production in the past, today’s plants are realizing the need to know where they stand in terms of meeting their customer’s needs. Some key demands being placed on the chief financial officer by different departments include questions like.

  • Can we fulfill my customer’s regular orders on time?
  • Are we able to deliver a client’s last minute rush-order?
  • Do we have enough inventory to stay on schedule without impacting other projects?

The only way for a plant to know exactly where they stand in terms of its raw materials, packaging, production and delivery schedules is through proper planning.

The benefits of effective materials requirement planning starts with understanding each product’s formulas, which dictate the required bills of materials (BOMs) in terms of raw or previously refined ingredients along with up-to-date instructions on how to safely use them.

A manufacturing BOM is essential in designing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and materials requirement planning (MRP).-Investopedia

Difficulty with Conventional Methods

A conventional method of making sure you’d have all the information required to answer the CFO’s questions was by using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for production planning. One spreadsheet might list all of the required chemicals for a specific formula from the BOM in the first column followed by others showing the quantities required for each batch and the quantities on hand. Other sections of the spreadsheet might be what is on order, which supplier is shipping it, when it is due and other similar information.

In this format however, ensuring the information on the BOM is accurate usually requires additional diligence and effort to be put forth. This could mean verifying inventories, making phone calls and sending emails when numbers in the warehouse don’t match. It might mean having one manager call another when a shipment arrives with less than the ordered quantity, or rarely, more than what was ordered.

Once the BOM is completely built out and the CFO knows what materials are available, they can schedule labor and resources to produce the products. This can be tricky when the same distillation equipment is to be used for multiple products, with downtime in manufacturing required between batches for cleaning and device maintenance.

Ideally, production teams have a planner who creates a schedule similar to the one in the image below (see Production Planning PPT slide from Xcelpros).

The Downsides to Downtime

You may have heard it before “Poor planning produces poor performance.” When it comes to business however, poor planning can also mean unexpected costs, and unexpected downtime. Downtime is often defined as time when production is scheduled to run but for some reason is not. Unplanned downtime or production stoppages however can seriously impact a businesses bottom line. These include disruptions in the form of reputational damage and customer churn by not delivering products on time. This unplanned lack of production also causes revenue losses, reduced employee productivity, reduced end-user productivity and stressed employees. Stressed employees can result in employee turnover. An HRDive brief puts the cost of replacing an employee at one-third of an employee’s annual salary or roughly $15,000 per worker.

Direct Costs of Downtime

The direct cost of downtime in production across all industries, not just chemical——varies. According to Atlassian and Garvey, downtime costs add up to

 

$247per minute for small businesses

$9,000 per minute for medium and large businesses

$260,000per hour across all businesses in a 2016 study

800 hours of downtime per year on average in manufacturing alone as cited by Garvey

Source: Atlassian & Garvey.com

Tracking Downtime in the Chemical Industry

According to an article by Accruent, unplanned downtime in the chemical industry appears in

  • Reduced production
  • Losses caused by quality issues
  • Costs for equipment repairs
  • Decreased customer satisfaction

One example cited was the quality drop off when a High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plant restarts. The plant can take from hours to days to produce right-first-time materials. The transitional goods are either scrapped or sold as reduced quality.

Proper Planning Produces Peak Performance

Figure: 1Production Planner’s View on Manufacturing: Planning & Execution in a Chemical Company

Features Of MRP System

Much of this downtime in manufacturing can be avoided by proper planning, especially when using a Master Plan. Managing master planning processes using software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can complete a number of critical tasks including

  • Calculates net requirements for the master plan based on actual current orders. This permits day-to-day inventory management.
  • Forecasts gross requirements for long-term planning of materials and production capacity.
  • Calculates net requirements across legal entities, such as different companies providing supply and demand.

The Master planning module determines the supply (materials) and capacity (resources) needs that will meet current demand (net requirements),” which includes the longest lead times.-Microsoft

The Master plan setup includes coverage settings and defining coverage rules for items.

Using a Master plan includes creating a constrained plan, handling safety stock and dealing with delays.

When used with multiple sites, the Master plan creates site schedules, site plans and coverage, the BOM version and other functions.

In terms of intercompany planning, the Master plan lets CFOs and project planners view the outbound intercompany demand and collaborate with internal supply chain customers.

Demand forecasting functions include importing historical data, generating, adjusting and approving a baseline forecast and then monitoring the forecast for accuracy.

Demand Forecasting in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Figure: 2Basic flow in Demand forecasting

Basic flow in Demand forecasting

Having an idea what to order in advance is a “top of the mind” issue for many CFOs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can perform demand forecasting, though it requires the Microsoft Azure Machine Learning Studio, which has limited availability.

  • Predict independent demand from sales orders and dependent demand at any decoupling point
  • Customize it for industry-specific requirements
  • Visualize demand trends, confidence intervals and make forecast adjustments based
  • Remove outliers
  • Authorize the adjusted forecast for planning

Final Thoughts

Proper planning helps CFOs cut costs and reduce downtime in manufacturing at the same time. One way to ensure production facilities have enough of what they need to keep factories rolling is by using an MRP system. These systems are

  • More efficient
  • More accurate
  • Better for long-term planning

Looking to digitally transform your supply chain? Take a free assessment!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Pharmaceutical Inventory Management: Challenges and Solutions

Pharmaceutical Inventory Management: Challenges and Solutions

Pharmaceutical Inventory Management: Challenges and Solutions 2400 900 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

In the pharmaceutical industry, the task of keeping track of inventory is a critical process where large investments can either make or break a company. There are so many different things to consider that have a significant impact on an organization’s bottom line.

When it comes to pharmaceutical inventory management there are a certain questions that need to be answered for full accountability, including

  • What products or raw materials do we have in inventory?
  • Where is it being stored – both physical location and in the production process
  • Does the physical inventory on hand match what each department is supposed to have?
  • Are there any discrepancies?
  • Are any raw materials or products either approaching, at, or past their expiration dates?

If just a few of these questions are left unanswered, the damages to a company can quickly begin to pile up. This can result in a loss of revenue, fines, or worse, risk to human life. Understanding exactly what issues could arise, and how, is the best first step to approaching inventory management in the pharmaceutical industry.

Understanding common causes

With rapidly rising costs for things like materials, transportation, and fines associated with non-compliance, understanding the most common causes of the issues plaguing the industry, and more, is critical to the operations and success of organizations in the pharmaceutical industry.

This lets businesses plan more carefully to be able to successfully manage their inventories down to the smallest detail. Some of the most widely seen causes of pharmaceutical inventory management errors include

  1. 1.Human error resulting in misinformation being entered into an organization’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
  2. 2. Improper or incorrect storage of finished goods or raw materials.
  3. 3. Waste and/or shrinkage (i.e., theft) resulting in incorrect inventory counts and undocumented loss of revenue.
  4. 4. Errors caused by incorrect measurements or from using inaccurate equipment.
  5. 5. Discrepancies between ordered, shipped and the received quantities.
  6. 6. Failures to properly account for expired, damaged or destroyed items including raw materials and finished goods.

Inventory Management Systems

Efficient, accurate inventory management is critical because it controls the amounts of raw materials, work in progress and finished products available at any given time. More companies are taking advantage of today’s modern solutions to achieve a number of functional benefits along with enhanced visibility of their inventory levels. These new systems all support three major goals, including

  1. 1.Making sure there are enough raw materials to meet current and anticipated demand.
  2. 2.Using working capital on other needs, such as replacing outdated equipment, opposed to buying or storing additional inventory.
  3. 3.Balancing the above goals while allowing the company to make a profit.

Along with achieving these goals, these systems let business perform much of the following

Tracking Production Lots

Unlike other industries that track raw materials and finished products by part numbers, many existing pharmaceutical factories tend to produce medicines and other drugs in lots.

The lot method uses various machines to create various lot and batch sizes of a particular drug or product in common increments such as gallons or pounds. Each lot should then be marked with a pedigree serial number as required by the US FDA Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA). All drugs distributed by wholesalers, repackagers or distributors must have a pedigree serial number for tracking purposes.

The manual and electronic (ePedigree) versions allow for tracking individual drug production lots from start to sale. Lot numbers let healthcare providers know if a particular batch of product:

  • Is ready for sale
  • Is expired
  • Is part of a recall

Lots have codes unique to each batch, making it easy to learn when problems occur. For example, if Batch A is perfect but Batch B has a problem, the manufacturer can use lot codes to narrow down where the problem occurred and correct it.

Pharmaceutical Lot tracking and the Supply Chain

Lot tracking increases supply chain integrity by tracing the pedigree of each batch of drugs manufactured.-2014 article by Lowry

Figure: 1Pharmaceutical Drugs Management Life Cycle

Banner: Pharmaceutical Drug Management Life Cycle

Specific to pharmaceuticals, lot tracking ensures tracing of each ingredient, dosage units, product family, national drug code (NDC) number, strength, schedules and other information for each batch. Lot numbers permit tracing throughout the production, processing and distribution processes.

Each lot is given an expiration date that determines its shelf life. This lot can be tracked through the supply chain to determine:

  • When it was made
  • Where the lot is at any given moment such as production shipping or a storage warehouse
  • Which customers received it
  • When the customers received their shipment of a specific lot

Typically, batches nearing their expiration date undergo a quality control test. The quality control lab either extends the expiration date or scraps the batch.

The Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) plus the FDA and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are constantly updating regulations related to lot and batch labeling.

Enhanced Tracking Methods

A stand-alone inventory management system, or the more robust ERP offerings in products such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Supply Chain, uses lot or batch numbers in the pharmaceutical industry, and/or product codes for internal tracking. Many wholesalers use the FDA-assigned NDC number, which is unique to a specific product. These systems can also track products by brand, brand description, strength and dosage as required by the DSCSA and for suspicious order monitoring.

The Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) is a 12-digit number used with a barcode for tracking purposes in the US and Canada. It is also known as a universal product code (UPC). The first 6-9 digits are the company prefix. The next digits reflect the product while the last digit is a check digit based on a calculation of the first 11 digits. An European Article Number (EAN) is similar to a GTN except it has 13 digits. EANs are used everywhere in the world except in the US and Canada.

Modern Inventory Management Systems

An pharmaceutical inventory management system that works with accounting, such as Microsoft System Dynamics 365 – Supply Chain, allows pharmaceutical companies to track, manage and organize inventory levels plus order, sales and deliveries.

The purpose of inventory management software is to maintain an optimal inventory level, track goods during transport between locations, receive new items, manage pharmaceutical warehouse processes such as picking, packing, and shipping, prevent product obsolescence and spoilage, and ensure your products are never out of stock.-Microsoft

Other advantages of using an inventory management system include

  • Inventory optimization
  • Product identification and tracking
  • Asset tracking
  • Reorder point determination

Inventory Management in ERP Systems

When included from the beginning as part of an ERP system, Inventory Management provides a number of additional benefits, such as

  • Direct integration into a company’s Supply Chain Management operations
  • Tracking of individual lots and batches using barcodes
  • Insights from real-time tracking using a cloud-based system, visible on mobile devices at any time
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) recommendations for determining optimal inventory levels
  • Quicker, easier software updates for cloud-based systems compared to standard on-premise programs

Final Thoughts

The adoption of modern inventory management systems helps businesses reduce the likelihood of having either too little or too much in terms of raw materials or finished goods. For the pharmaceutical industry, inventory management is critical, offering accurate, continuous tracking of batches and lots. This ensures the company meets stringent federal and state regulations and helps ensure that only current—not expired—products are available to customers. To achieve the best results, businesses need to understand the issues and perform enough research to determine how beneficial adopting a modern inventory management system would be.

Looking for effective ways to manage your pharmaceutical inventory? Get started today with XcelPros!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Role of Technology in Optimizing the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Role of Technology in Optimizing the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain 1200 600 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

The pharmaceutical industry is a rapidly growing industry with strict regulatory requirements. The COVID-19 pandemic has put immense pressure on these companies to meet the changing demands of the market. Meeting these high demands while adhering to requirements can be one of the biggest challenges for these firms. With more and more industries going fully digital, technology is helping these companies overcome challenges as they arise to stay in business. Let’s find out how!

Leverage the power of technology to optimize your supply chain and boost your profits. Start your digital transformation!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

5 Key Reasons Why Distributors Should Invest in a Robust ERP

5 Key Reasons Why You Need ERP Software in Distribution

5 Key Reasons Why You Need ERP Software in Distribution 1200 600 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • As a distributor, your investments can be severely impacted due to operational or management issues with your transportation system; The day-to-day operations of most wholesale distribution companies can take advantage of optimized systems to avoid inventory stock-outs, transportation bottlenecks, and more.
  • Most operational problems can either be resolved quickly or avoided altogether with ERP software designed for distribution companies.
  • Today, more and more supply chain distribution and transportation companies looking for an advantage are investing wisely in ERP software.

Distribution management, supply chain and logistics planning can be few of the most challenging areas for any wholesale distribution company. If not properly monitored, common occurrences of events like rapidly increasing volumes of new information, varying timelines, and unplanned scheduling issues can become large challenges to overcome. This goes for unforeseen factors that can’t be planned for as well, like breakdowns, natural disasters, and unexpected disruptions to transportation channels. To minimize the impact of these scenarios and more, distribution companies can choose to leverage smart business management software platforms such as ERPs. These solutions designed specifically for distribution companies focus on simplifying operations and shortening the cash cycle with robust out-of-the-box and customizable solutions.

For years, distribution companies have been on the short end of the stick when it comes to implementing IT infrastructure capable enough to support their unique needs and requirements. While a quick search might indicate a majority of wholesale distribution companies operating on a similar model, a more in-depth investigation would highlight numerous differences and intricacies. An effective wholesale distribution ERP software can recognize specific requirements and provide solutions to address them based on the scale, geography, and operating model of a specific organization. This all points to ERP being essential for distribution channel management, boosting overall operational efficiency, and reducing costs.

Below are 5 more important reasons why the right ERP is a must-have for organizations looking to boost distribution and transportation networks

1.Increased agility With today’s market more dynamic than ever before, end-users are not only more aware of what they want but are able to access a growing number of options. This change in behavior requires manufacturers and wholesale distributors alike to rethink their approach. With the right ERP solution in place, both sales and distribution pipelines become much more dynamic, allowing distribution companies to communicate changes in requirements in real-time to simplify the order-to-shipment process.

2.Enhanced Data Management For any distribution company, managing inventory inflow and outflow is an enormous task, susceptible to repetition, recurrence, and multiple errors. This can be avoided by implementing a comprehensive ERP platform to automate data entry and facilitate high-end data and insight generation. The right ERP software in distribution offers significantly enhanced visibility and complete transparency for information being managed in a distribution network.

Figure: 1Why Do Distribution Companies Need ERP

Why Do Distribution Companies Need ERP

3.Efficient Inventory Management Properly managing today’s distribution operations includes actively monitoring supply chains, logistics, and inventory, which, when not managed effectively, can produce a significantly lower ROI. This is where ERP software for a distribution company can make a huge difference with things like built-in automation to track multiple items, real-time monitoring of goods to avoid stock-outs, and improved communication between stakeholders.

4.Streamlined Supply Chain Management To avoid disruptions in supply chains, companies need to take proactive measures to streamline operations and minimize the impacts of any global phenomenon that can potentially disrupt the supply network. An ERP software in a distribution company helps ensure a steady flow of goods, fortified communication amongst stakeholders, and complete visibility of the supply chain.

5.Improved Customer Relationships Today’s wholesale distributors are expected to anticipate their end user’s needs as market demands rapidly change. This helps organizations stay ahead of their competition, and able to respond quickly to their customer’s dynamic requirements. The strengthening of these customer relationships leads to an improved cash cycle, which further helps to avoid overstock. This leads to other, more conventional industries looking to improve customer retention with the right ERP.

Final Thoughts

Modern ERP software in distribution has evolved into complete end-to-end platforms designed to promote growth and improve both suppliers’ and distributors’ ability to do business under quickly changing conditions. Especially today, implementing the correct solution has become much more affordable, offering significantly improved response times, increased efficiency, and stronger customer relationships.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the right ERP for distribution is more crucial than ever in making your supply chain and distribution network highly dynamic, leaving your business in a much better position to respond to rapidly-changing market demands.
  • The main focus of ERP isn’t just operations management but also improving supply chain and strengthening customer relations.
  • Overall, sales and distribution cycles become much more profitable when the right ERP solution is in place.

Invest in a robust ERP system to streamline your distribution operations. Start your free trial!

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Why Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Should Choose Microsoft Dynamics

Why Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Should Choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain

Why Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Should Choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain 1453 726 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

For businesses in the pharmaceutical industry, there’s a constant need to manage different challenges such as ever-changing regulations, severe production environment difficulties and complex equipment that can be difficult to maintain. Any equipment downtime could result in production losses and affect drug quality in the value chain, denting the brand image.

When it comes to pharmaceutical manufacturing, production schedules are incredibly demanding, especially when machinery is constantly under operation. These businesses work hard to ensure maximum availability of their assets in order to achieve production efficiency. This requires equipment to perform at full capacity with no downtime to create a competitive production environment.

Organizations in this industry looking to maximize their efficiency need to understand a few key points that help present a clear picture of the current state of plant equipment and manufacturing in general.

  • Poor equipment maintenance strategies can reduce a plant’s overall productive capacity by 5 to 20 percent.
  • Unplanned downtime is costing industrial manufacturers an estimated $50 billion each year.
  • Around three-quarters of all the plant equipment in manufacturing is more than 20 years old, which says a lot about the quantum of obsolete equipment and a significant cause of production downtime!.

Understanding equipment downtime, reliability and availability

For manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry, having fully functional equipment is of utmost importance and means their business can operate normally. Understanding things like downtime, reliability and availability can be just as important if not more.

Scheduled Downtime is important for changeovers, cleaning, tool changes, early shutdowns, personal breaks, or any unplanned events that may occur, such as breakdowns or any repairs that can affect the core business. Equipment reliability is related to the health of equipment and how optimally it performs a task while considering attributes like quality and performance, and equipment availability is the actual time that a machine or system is available for production as a percent of total planned production time.

These are undoubtedly some of the biggest concerns for pharmaceutical manufacturers, but they’re not the only things that these businesses are required to deal with, such as

  • Increased downtime: This can lead to Supply chain disconnects, lower production, missed deadlines and increased penalties.
  • Spiking maintenance costs: This usually results in businesses reducing maintenance which can lead to complete failures, severely impacting revenue and operations.
  • Production dips: Usually caused by gaps in asset or equipment availability, this can halt production and affect the company’s revenue.
  • Equipment repair: Without a preventative maintenance plan, businesses are required to perform repairs as needed. This leads to uncertainty when it comes to the status of equipment and prolonged downtimes.
  • Equipment replacement: Upkeep is always cheaper than replacement. When equipment isn’t properly maintained replacement costs can easily end up exceeding the total costs of having a basic maintenance plan on board.
  • Drug quality of lower standards: Unreliable or under-maintained equipment can unknowingly produce lower quality products leading to fines, penalties and costly recalls.
  • Drug safety risks: As equipment ages it becomes easier for contamination to occur, which could lead to additional damages.
  • Loss of reputation: Missed deadlines, poor quality and unsafe products can have a severe impact on revenue and brand recognition.

Figure: 1Factors Leading to Poor Equipment Maintenance

Poor Equipment Maintenance In Pharma industry

A big reason this all matters stems from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) decision to include equipment maintenance as one of the risk-based preventive measures in Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). With the USDA considering equipment maintenance as a key function of cGMP, it easily becomes one of the most critical factors for pharmaceutical manufacturers’ compliance and will be subject to even greater scrutiny.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has been a game-changer for the pharmaceutical industry

More and more organizations are better able to control their machinery and minimize “time-to-insight” with Microsoft Dynamics 365 capabilities designed to help businesses gain total control of their data, offering integrated analytics and workflows. Microsoft dynamics for pharmaceutical companies lets businesses speed up the movement of goods, eliminate waste due to costly shelf-life expirations and returns, and improve production efficiency across their entire line. Microsoft Dynamics for pharmaceutical gives companies the ability to achieve the following:

1.Ensuring centralized Quality Control (QC) and regulatory support Organizations can use integrated quality controls and lot traceability to link raw materials through each operation of the production process. This helps accelerate and simplify compliance with regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA).

2.Managing better inventory more effectively Pull inventory in sequence, employing “best before” management, and enabling customer service to ship lots that arrive with the correct amount of shelf life remaining. Employ either first expiry/first-out (FEFO) or first-in/first-out (FIFO) calculations for inventory reservations, picking, reducing inventory and eliminating waste.

3.Conducting extensive audit trails Incorporate electronic signature functionality into existing business processes, providing complete visibility into batch production and audit trails.

4.Meeting GMP requirements Manage electronic quarantines, quarantine release by user and material type, printed material control/ obsolete components, lot control/ segregation, lot tracking, and drug and hazardous material reconciliation.

5.Improving production planning Accurately model the processing of costly ingredients to help minimize overruns and underruns. Shelf-life planning helps account for expiration dates during production and distribution.

6.Protecting recipes and formulas Dynamics 365 helps document various ingredients, storage requirements, manufacturing processes, pH values, particle size, and much more – all with the ability to review at any given moment. D365 lets you set security restrictions to ensure that only approved users are able to make changes, further protecting your critical assets.

Final Thoughts

As the pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve and grow, the need to understand and adopt intelligent technologies like Dynamics 365 becomes more and more apparent. Implementing solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for pharmaceutical and other.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing ERP softwares is the best way for companies to maximize their asset availability and track machine reliability, letting them drive towards increased productivity, higher quality products and enhanced safety assurance.

Get started with one week no-obligation pilot to experience Microsoft Dynamics Finance & Supply for Pharmaceutical

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Making Pharmaceutical Supply Chains More Resilient

Making Pharmaceutical Supply Chains More Resilient

Making Pharmaceutical Supply Chains More Resilient 1200 600 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

Building a resilient supply chain framework for pharmaceutical companies requires:

  • Understanding where the company is now.
  • Creating new business relationships with alternate raw materials suppliers, transportation providers, and other essential third-party businesses.
  • Weighing the benefits of a robust and versatile pharmaceutical value chain versus the impact on working capital.

Introduction

Pandemics, natural disasters, cyber-attacks, political turmoil, and other actions are beyond a company’s control. Any one or combination of them can thoroughly disrupt a smoothly running supply chain.

Critical supply chain areas getting battered by these disruptions include reduced or non-existent access to:

  • Essential precursor chemicals and components
  • Production facilities
  • Vital workers and managers
  • Transportation resources to bring in raw materials and ship out finished products

The unquestionable first requirement to improving supply chain resiliency is having access to accurate data and knowing what to do with the data-driven insights. Data sources such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) provide real-time information, and applications such as Microsoft Dynamics Supply Chain Management helps users evaluate existing information.

Precursor Chemical Supplies

A 2020 report from Avalere states that U.S. biotech firms making medicines here get their active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from U.S. suppliers – import them or import finished products. These precursor chemicals accounted for $86.5 billion in the U.S. alone during 2019.

One issue U.S. companies are facing is the location of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturers. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the top four places are:

  1. 1.U.S. – 28% (510 facilities for FDA regulated drugs)
  2. 2.European Union – 26%
  3. 3.India – 18%
  4. 4.China – 13% (230 facilities for FDA regulated drugs)

Figure:Percentage of API Sources in U.S. Dollars

Percentage of API Sources in U.S. Dollars

Figure:API manufacturing facility locations

API manufacturing facility locations

Canada and the rest of the world produce the remaining 20 percent of APIs used in medicines. Also, the FDA report states India, the EU, and the rest of the world have 1048 facilities making FDA-regulated drugs.

Adding to the importance of having resilience in the pharmaceutical supply chain are potential supply chain disruptions caused by using overseas suppliers. These include recalls, such as two from China cited by the FDA within the last six years.

One way to counter a dependency on foreign API supplies is by using advanced technology to produce chemicals and medicines at lower costs, the FDA suggests. Using the continuous manufacturing (CM) process to make finished products instead of producing batches with gaps between steps can be more effective.

Another method of reducing reliance on foreign API suppliers is using advanced technology. Newer methods producing APIs and finished dosage forms (FDF) helps in supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry. The ability to rapidly respond to changes in demand, using smaller physical footprints that require smaller facilities, helps reduce pharmaceutical manufacturing costs potentially, offsetting overseas production advantages. High tech production methods, such as those in smart factories, also tend to have lower environmental impacts.

Pharmaceutical companies considering boosting their pharmaceutical value chain using this method can get help from the FDA. The FDA has an Emerging Technology Program (ETP) described in “Advancement of Emerging Technology Applications for Pharmaceutical Innovation and Modernization Guidance for Industry.”

The FDA is also working on a framework to develop miniature mobile manufacturing “Pharmacy on Demand” platforms to produce essential drugs at or near the point of care. This method, while requiring capital costs, provides the means of eliminating delivery costs.

Risk Sources

Before making changes to the current supply chain, CFOs should look at four primary sources of risk:

  • Sourcing of APIs and other raw materials risks. Counter risks by locating secondary suppliers and establishing working relationships with them.
  • Staffing and transportation risks. Consider having access to remote workers plus multiple methods of delivering finished products to customers.
  • Inventory risks. Contrast cash flow needs with inventories to be able to withstand short-term disruptions while also accounting for perishability.
  • Distribution risks. Be able to use multiple methods to deliver finished products to customers. Consider outsourcing part of the distribution to withstand problems in that area.

Strategic Questions

Before investing in building a resilient supply chain, CFOs would want to know:

  • How can we obtain the most accurate data on what we currently have? Is investment in IIoT sensors and other technology warranted?
  • What are our priorities based on what we have learned from the current pandemic? Is digitizing our data stream the top priority, or is securing a second or third API source more critical?
  • How do we balance internal conflicts? What will we do if a secondary API source that can deliver in the event of a natural disaster is more expensive than our primary source that cannot provide when we need the raw materials?
  • How do our risks integrate with risks from our third-party partners? How will a disaster impact their ability to supply critical products or services we need?
  • What do we consider a resilient supply chain? How much impact on near-term profitability is acceptable if we ensure that we can continue operations in the event of a significant supply chain disruption?

By the Numbers

$16 trillion (i.e., $16,000,000,000,000): Estimated total cost of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S. alone.

$85 billion (i.e., $85,000,000,000) lost by the Nasdaq Biotech Index in the week ending March 6, 2021, its third weekly loss in a row.

$242 million (i.e., $242,000,000) lost by the Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV) in the week ending March 6, 2021, bringing the total loss to date to $1.68 billion

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health

 

Strategies for Greater Supply Chain Resilience

Figure: 1A roadmap to digital transformation to a resilient supply chain

A roadmap to digital transformation to a resilient supply chain

According to a recent Deloitte article, CFOs can reduce their chain disruptions and improve their supply chain resilience by using these strategies:

  1. 1. Identifying and mitigating their most significant supply chain weaknesses. Questions to consider include: Where are your API manufacturers located? Are there alternative sources able to deliver the required quantities when needed? Are the raw material sources within an acceptable range of the production plants? Identifying these alternative suppliers helps ensure a more continuous input of raw materials.
  2. 2. Prioritizing investments in the supply chain infrastructure to ensure significant delays do not occur when disaster strikes. Technological improvements supporting product storage and movement (e.g., Microsoft Dynamics Supply Chain Management) can make processes more transparent and improve efficiency in financial transactions and information exchanges.
  3. 3. Balancing the supply chain investments with competing company requirements, such as costs and services. Deloitte cites, “managing working capital while restarting operations and rebuilding inventory as one major challenge of a supply chain disruption.”
  4. 4. Creating a playbook to handle the causes of supply chain disruptions.
  5. 5. Implementing the updates from the standpoint of cost, speed, and efficient operation. The Deloitte report states that supply chain leaders should work with CFOs to determine the effects of supply chain changes on their working capital.

Before Making Any Decisions

Before making changes to their current supply chain, CFOs, chief technology officers, and other executives should consider:

  • Evaluating where the current pharmaceutical supply chain stands.
  • Creating a plan or series of methods for sourcing alternate raw materials, workers, and production facilities should any natural or human-made disasters strike.
  • Analyzing the cost versus benefits of making the current pharmaceutical value chain more robust and resilient.

Looking for a digital transformation to build a more resilient pharmaceutical supply chain? For a free consultation

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Top 8 Challenges of Pharmaceutical Supply Chain in 2021

Top 8 Challenges of Pharmaceutical Supply Chain in 2021

Top 8 Challenges of Pharmaceutical Supply Chain in 2021 1200 600 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • The Covid-19 pandemic not only came as a health threat, but it also disrupted the world’s socio-economic thread. Industries like pharmaceutical and biotechnology were at the forefront attempting to find solutions.
  • Pharmaceutical industry supply chain challenges that concerned top executives include shortage of raw materials, unprecedented changes in demand pattern, inability to plan lead-times and shortage of labor.
  • The pharmaceutical industry’s supply chain efficiency still has room for improvement and may need some transformative changes to thrive in the new normal.

Pharmaceutical supply chain challenges have been a major cause of concern for the industry throughout 2020. The challenges are still very much prevalent, even as the world moves ahead in the era of the new normal. This pandemic caused a major global socio-economic impact and led to disruption in almost all facets of the industry. Modern companies equipped with the right tools and technologies have been quick to adjust to the changes. Organizations that still functioned on archaic systems were struggling to adapt to the business processes changes brought about by the pandemic. Slow to adapt companies had to put in more effort to understand the needed changes and adapting to the changes without the right technologies in place was daunting.

Figure: 1Major Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Disruptors

Cotributors of  Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Challenges

Added to that was the inability of companies to quickly onboard onto newer applications and get into the rhythm of modern cloud-based solutions. Some of the major issues that surfaced during the pandemic are:

  1. a.The demand for therapeutics and/ or vaccines led to an overdrive of pressure on the industry.
  2. b.The lack of resources and slow global travel have increased pharmaceutical supply chain disruptions.
  3. c.Changes in quality standards have added new tasks to the workforce that were not part of their day-in-the-life and had to adapt to rapidly.
  4. d.Changes in quality testing created adjustments in the test specification and additional steps in testing.
  5. e.Disintegrated systems made it harder for the workforce to stay agile and adjust to the changes that came their way.
  6. f.Inability to manage supply-demand cycles.

70%

of the leaders said that the pharmaceutical supply chain was vulnerable to ongoing problems caused by the continuation of the pandemic and that on-time, in-full delivery of medicines had deteriorated by almost 50 percent within the first few months of the pandemic.

Source: IDC Whitepaper Report

While modern manufacturing companies did rise to the challenges and leveraged solutions such as cloud applications, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and Big Data to their advantages, many risk-averse pharmaceutical companies are still prone to supply chain challenges due to the lack of right tools in place to make them nimble. Let us look at the top 8 concerns of the pharmaceutical industry supply chain that still are pressing concerns:

1.Unprepared for further disruptions: Different countries worldwide are struggling with second or third waves of the pandemic (and many have reported new mutant strains of the virus). These continuous disruptions have led to major disturbance in the pharmaceutical distribution system.

2.Technological bottlenecks are prevalent: The pharmaceutical industry has been highly apprehensive and traditional in adopting newer technologies. While the last decade has seen major leaps, there are still many bottlenecks in leveraging technologies to their full potential.

3.Shortage of raw material: The inability to plan effectively during the pandemic can cause many hurdles if procuring raw materials. Knowing lead times and accurate inventory quantities without a planning tool can slow you down significantly as you try to extrapolate data and understand your supply schedule.

4.Standard operating procedures and processes: As workforce within the pharmaceutical industry needs to be onsite, proper SOPs need to be set. This would add new processes that warehouse personnel need to be trained on. A lack of the right kind of training tools can add to the burden.

5.Managing cold storage facilities is resource-intensive: Some of the products have to be stored at very low temperatures to ensure that the potency and formulation remain intact. This would need pharmaceutical supply chains equipped with refillable dry ice containers or specialized freezers, both of which are not budget-friendly options.

6.Pharmaceutical safety guidelines and regulations differ across Borders: The pharmaceutical industry has to be very tenacious and alert when adhering to the safety guidelines and regulations. However, pharmaceutical supply chain challenges get magnified as the raw materials and drugs cross borders and these regulations keep on changing.

7.Rapid drug delivery: The historical task of bringing medicines to market is a race against time. Pharmaceutical operations and supply chain management handling need to be as efficient as they come to ensure lesser bottlenecks and plausible errors in these testing times.

8.Lack of integration across processes: When your inventory, manufacturing, labeling operations don’t talk to each other and are manually managed, the error rate will go up and business productivity will go down.

The year 2021 will probably push the pharmaceutical supply chain to its maximum limit yet. However, with the right strategy, technologies, and solutions, the pharmaceutical sector can rise up in these challenging times.

Key Takeaways

  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution companies are facing a once-in-a-lifetime level of challenge and they need to streamline their operations to ensure the efficiency of supply chains.
  • The pharmaceutical supply chain challenges have been a part of this sector for a long time and companies that are not properly equipped will tend to struggle more than others. This is the right time to transform to be equipped with the right technologies for a better tomorrow.

Take a free assessment to get recommendations in transforming your pharmaceutical supply chain.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

How do smart factories help boost your supply chain

How do smart factories help boost your supply chain?

How do smart factories help boost your supply chain? 1200 600 Xcelpros Team

At a Glance

  • Smart factories can use technology to boost productivity and increase quality. Merging data and insights from the shop floor with the supply chain and the entire organization can uncover ways to improve operational efficiency and boost business relationships.
  • By connecting devices and sharing information, smart connected factories permit automatic optimization. The machines can adapt to changing conditions in real-time and run the entire production process without human intervention, a white paper from Deloitte states.
  • A smart factory is one where information is continuously shared between devices and resources. Sharing this information reduces waste, thereby increasing efficiency and productivity.
  • It impacts the supply chain by anticipating needs and automatically ordering materials. That in turn keeps the factory running at maximum efficiency.

The smart factory represents a leap forward from more traditional automation to a fully connected and flexible system.Source: Deloitte

Traditional factories tend to have discrete machines and production lines. Information gathered from one device stays with that device until manually uploaded into a computer network.

Smart factories eliminate the barriers between machines, using computer sensors to monitor every stage and every process, producing huge volumes of data. The information is shared vertically on the factory floor and horizontally with other departments. This method lets the company rapidly adapt to marketplace changes, expanding its offerings and encouraging innovation based on customer needs. Smart connected factories are much more than just machines knowing when to open and close valves. They integrate the entire operation—including supply chain, manufacturing, information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT)—into one unified, agile organization.

Characteristics of a smart factory

Smart factories share five characteristics. They are:

  • Connected across machines and departments
  • Optimized for reliability and predictability
  • Transparent for quick decision making and order tracking
  • Proactive for identifying potential problems before they occur and restocking materials before running out
  • Agile for quick changeovers and product modifications

Benefits of a smart factory

Important benefits of a smart factory include:

  • Using data to create pattern identification and mapping the production process. This method gains production insights and allocates resources more efficiently.
  • Identifying and logging all process problems from machine and worker input.
  • Identifying waste creation points and processes.
  • Sharing data not only with the factory floor but with sales, marketing, finance and other departments to improve overall results.
  • Mastering the smart supply chain, permitting advance ordering of critical components before running out of them and delaying production.
  • Customizing small orders, permitting small batch creation when machines are not in use on large projects.
  • Diagram an ideal state.
  • Develop a plan to make the ideal state a reality.
  • Monitor and continually adjust new processes—including educating and training employees—ensuring maximum efficiency.

How it Works

The information process begins by using machine sensors and operators to capture data points during the 7 Flows starting with the supply chain in the form of raw materials. Each of these flows is part of the Lean Manufacturing Process.

Seven Flows

The seven flows involve:

  1. 1.Raw materials
  2. 2.Work in progress
  3. 3.Finished goods
  4. 4.Operators
  5. 5.Machines
  6. 6.Information
  7. 7.Engineering

All of the flows working together tend to efficiently produce products with few defects, Kettering’s article states.

Software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management is designed with these concepts in mind.

For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management allows factories to integrate industrial internet of things (IIoT) and artificial intelligence in the process flows.

Technical Advances Enabling Smart Connected Factories

Recent technical advances permitting the creation of smart factories include the development of:

  • Sensors collecting information, providing access to various activities and processes.
  • Using connected IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) devices transmitting the sensor data to a database that in turn, massages the data to identify and correct inefficiencies.
  • Analyzing data as it is being collected. This permits rapid responses to changing situations, such as correcting a manufacturing defect as it occurs.
  • Employing AI (artificial intelligence) coupled with machine learning permits self-correcting when detecting errors such as closing an open door that might affect a temperature-sensitive section.
  • Relocating some IT resources to “the cloud.” Cloud Computing reduces data costs by transmitting it to a remote location where an interconnected network of computer servers processes, shares and stores data in a secure location away from the factory.
  • Running a digital version of a process in advance. By identifying and correcting potential errors and sticking points in advance, actual production is not affected.
  • Keeping data secure from outside cyber threats and attacks such as ransomware or hacks that steal data or damage or destroy critical components.

When many people think of the Internet of Things (IoT), they visualize home products such as lights that turn on and off when people enter rooms, saving electricity. Maybe they consider newer smart refrigerators that let homeowners use an app on the attached touchscreen monitor to order food items when they are running low.

The IIoT expands this connectivity from computers and the home to computers and industrial machinery. For example, it allows remote workers to monitor temperatures and automated chemical blending, ensuring the correct mixtures.

Figure: 1Functions coming together within smart factory

Functions coming together within smart factory

Why Update Now to a Smart Factory Solution?

The rapid pace of technological innovations means that the cost of making some of these updates—computing speeds and data storage, for example—has dropped. Technology is more sophisticated allowing systems not only to gather information but interpret it and automatically make adjustments.

A more complex supply chain means manufacturers must be more nimble than ever before while also adapting to constantly shifting priorities.

Merging parts of IT with parts of OT, in combination with device hardware and software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management lets factories analyze their data now in real time for smart supply chain management.

Smart Factory Categories

Smart factories come in four categories, all based on data.

  1. 1.Available—but not accessible—data that must be organized before being transmitted.
  2. 2.Accessible data, which is organized and stored in ways that permit analysis.
  3. 3.Active data, which can be analyzed by computer software such as Microsoft Supply Chain Dynamics 365.
  4. 4.Machine-controlled modifications using solutions identified earlier, all with limited human input.

Making Factories Smart

Owners and managers may want to start with a single device, get it working the way they wish and then gradually expanding to a full production line. Companies considering updating an existing factory will need to have methods of obtaining data from the factory floor, which might require updating or replacing some machines. The cloud can help with processing and storing the information but data collection takes place locally.

Investments in other technologies—including AI, augmented reality and optical sensors—may be required to understand the data and digitize the production process.

Another important change is staffing. Even though much of the work will be automated, skilled workers are still required. This could involve realigning departments and eliminating or drastically changing individual roles.

Key Takeaways

  • Technological changes are turning the dream of smart factories into reality.
  • Smart Factories have the ability to highly automate many repetitive steps using a combination of device sensors and computer software.
  • Factory data can be used to create artificial production lines. Running them virtually lets managers spot potential problems before affecting actual production.

Get a free consultation on transforming into a smart factory.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com

Importance of Data in Pharma Product Development

Importance of Data & Analytics in Pharmaceutical Product Development

Importance of Data & Analytics in Pharmaceutical Product Development 1440 810 Xcelpros Team

Introduction

Research and development (R&D) has always been the backbone of the pharmaceutical industry. In 2001, there were 1,198 pharmaceutical companies with active R&D pipelines, and in 2020, this figure spiked to 4,800. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have doubled their efforts in creating new products. In fact, more than 17,700 drugs were recorded in the global R&D pipeline in 2020—and a lot of them made headlines.

The world got a glimpse of how complex and costly it is to create new drugs. Moreover, that also sparked an unprecedented wave of data sharing and access not just in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, but in the IT sector as well. In fact, 96% of all companies will have hired a data specialist by 2022, according to “The Future of Jobs Report” by the World Economic Forum. This is why there has already been a huge uptick in the number of professionals pursuing data analytics careers, with worldwide big data revenue already predicted to have passed $203 billion.

In the pharmaceutical industry, multiple organizations came together to share and exchange data: Google Cloud provided researchers free access to critical information through its COVID-19 Public Dataset Program, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute offered government entities and researchers access to innovative AI tools and experts in data and public health.

Figure: 1Role of Data in Pharmaceutical Product Development

Never before has data been so readily accessible and this has helped speed up the R&D efforts of many companies. In addition, data also helps the pharmaceutical products development in many other ways:

Improves research efficiency

Several companies were able to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in under a year—a record time—currently making it the fastest vaccine to ever be developed. It helped that pertinent data and information were exchanged freely between pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and data analytics organizations.

Free-flowing data sharing, as seen during the pandemic response, makes the development of drugs easier as it cuts down several steps in the R&D process. And with the available information, researchers have a better understanding of the recipients of the product. This makes it possible for trials to acquire smaller sample sizes with higher accuracy, lower expenses, and in less time.

Creates precision medicine

Precision medicine is an approach to patient care that allows doctors to create diagnoses and treatments based on data on genetic make-up, environmental factors, and behavioral patterns. This approach allows companies to create personalized medicine for individuals’ genes and lifestyles. This data-driven approach also helps drug makers identify patients’ susceptibility to certain disorders, enhancing disorder detection. Since precision medicine has a higher probability of success compared to more conventional approaches, it also reduces trial costs.

One such example is Pfizer’s Xalkori (crizotinib), which they produced after combing through data from electronic medical records, clinical trials, and genomic data. They found that a small subset of lung cancer patients had a mutation in their ALK gene, and using this insight, they developed a personalized drug. “Had this compound been tested against a broad spectrum of lung cancer patients, it likely would not have been found to be effective. With this analytics-based approach, it was found to be very effective,” says Pfizer CIO Jeff Keisling.

Provides real-time analysis

It’s now possible to access real-time information—a feature that greatly benefits trials. With this, it’s easier to respond to issues in a timely manner, and create more accurate safety measures for trial participants, all leading to higher success rates from the R&D standpoint. Additionally, data can now be collected from real-world information such as health records, insurance claims, and even social media. This provides drug makers with evidence on how medicines work in an uncontrolled setting and across a wider demographic. This lets them make adjustments and improvements to the drugs.

Major pharmaceutical companies now have dedicated teams collecting data from studies and trials across different diseases. Their analysis of this information helps them formulate their drugs to be more potent and effective while combating the rising costs of traditional clinical trials and parallel development programs.

30%

of life science organizations will have achieved data excellence, or the concept of effectively using the right data at the right time, by 2022.

Source: IDC Health Insights prediction

Simplify production plans

After developing a product, it needs to be mass-produced and distributed. You need to know the appropriate targets for the best ROI. With the right data, companies are able to create a more solid production plan, reduce labor costs, eliminate waste, decrease the need for excessive inventories, and optimize equipment usage. This ease of production will only increase in the future both within the healthcare industry and companies connected to it. And with the pharmaceutical industry predicted to grow to $1.57 trillion in value, the role of data in streaming lining production processes will only increase.

Smoother supply chains

50%

of pharmaceutical and biotech companies will be using prescriptive data analytics with IoT data to optimize their supply chain.

Source: Worldwide Health Industry 2020 Predictions report

Today’s pharma companies are breaking away from traditional practices and are embracing digital transformation and pharmaceutical data analysis on a much bigger scale. This move allows them to understand and cater to the needs of both their customers and stakeholders, as we mentioned in our previous write-up on the ways to enhance customer experience. Using data analytics, you can improve your supply chain efficiency by easily validating data, detecting anomalies, benchmarking operations, and accessing mobile and logistic reports.

Moreover, data analytics for pharma development offers real-time route optimization and improved inventory management, freeing up man-hours which otherwise would’ve been spent tracking and monitoring business operations.

The use of data in developing pharmaceutical products is very beneficial, it helps prevent health issues and strengthen the patient care sector.

Article specially written for xcelpros.com By Nina Ross

Get a free consultation to learn about digital tools for your pharmaceutical product development.

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About XcelPros

XcelPros is a Chicago-based company delivering transformation through technology. We offer business and technology solutions with deep industry experience in Chemical, Pharma, Life Sciences (including Medical Devices, Bio-Medical & Biotech), Insurance, Discrete Manufacturing, Process Manufacturing, Distribution and Food & Beverage.

XcelPros is a Microsoft Gold Partner, Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) and a Systems Integrator (SI) offering software licensing, implementation and consulting services for Microsoft Dynamics 365, CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Business Intelligence & Analytics (Power BI), SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure (Cloud, IOT, Microsoft Flow amongst many others).

Our mission is to provide integrated technology solutions that amplify impact and empower our customer’s businesses. We believe technology is the key enabler of exponential growth for us and our customers.

Contact XcelPros today to transform your business.

Call us toll-free – 1.855.411.0585 (or) visit www.xcelpros.com