Today, many businesses rely on the supply chain to fill their shelves with products ready to sell, and pharmaceutical companies are no exception. In fact, to provide the fastest response time possible, it is important that pharmaceutical companies have full visibility of the products in their supply chain, from the moment they are manufactured until they reach the store shelf. This can be a challenge, especially as many products come from outside sources and even other countries. How can supply chain visibility help your business? Read on to find out!
The Modern Supply Chain
With pharmaceuticals being regulated, the supply chain has become more complicated and sophisticated. Using an efficient, reliable supply chain has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, cost containment, and competitive differentiation. This is because customers want consistent quality drugs that work every time they are administered to patients and pharmacists want to give their customers the cheapest possible medication while still meeting their needs.
Pharmaceutical supply chains have changed in recent times to make this happen. For example, products go through various phases of manufacturing including research and development before becoming end products. There are also numerous checkpoints along the way that include inspections by regulators.
Manufacturers need an accurate grasp on current production costs so they can predict new drug pricing accurately and minimize any additional expenses associated with these phases. The supply chain needs to be flexible enough to accommodate sudden changes in demand, raw material prices, and regulatory requirements. They also need to monitor operational metrics such as fill rates and inventory turnover rates so that all stakeholders know what is always going on.
3 of the key features that define the modern supply chain are proximity, visibility, and sustainability.
- 1.Proximity – Proximity means cutting out middlemen who add cost and complexity to transactions.
- 2.Visibility – Visibility means being able to know where every product is at any given time.
- 3.Sustainability – Sustainability means paying attention not only to the natural environment but also how our supply chains interact with other industries (e.g., manufacturing) as well as social issues (e.g., food security).
One of the most important aspects of a modern pharmaceutical supply chain is visibility. If it was difficult or impossible to see where products were and how fast they were moving, there would be too much room for error. That is why good tracking systems are necessary for companies in this industry. One common solution includes scanning barcodes to keep track of items, but there are other ways as well depending on each company’s needs. Some solutions allow for locating materials anywhere in a warehouse using a radio frequency identification system (RFID). An RFID reader sends out radio waves from its antennae which causes tags attached to objects within range to reflect certain frequencies, causing them to stand out against other objects not tagged with an RFID tag.
Benefits of Supply Chain Visibility
Pharmaceutical organizations have found that supply chain visibility provides several important benefits including greater data accuracy, lower inventory costs, reduced compliance risk, and increased business agility. With the help of insights that come from better visibility, they can identify potential problems before they happen. With this information pharmaceutical industries can proactively solve problems before they begin to cause severe damage to their organization. It has even been shown that well-managed supply chains lead to higher customer satisfaction scores as well as product reliability.
Increasing supply chain visibility offers a wide range of benefits for organizations today, including:
- Increased data accuracy.
- Improved process efficiency.
- Lower inventory costs.
- Reduced risks associated with compliance.
- Enhanced agility to meet the needs of changing markets quickly.
That last point may be especially critical for pharmaceutical companies given the fact they stand to incur substantial penalties if violations occur during the supply chain process. All these factors make visibility an essential component not only to reducing risks but also to success overall.
With so many benefits, improving supply chain visibility should be a top priority for any company, regardless of its size or industry. The initial investment in implementing these changes will pay off handsomely in terms of financial benefits, brand protection, and positive impacts on both customers and employees.
Companies that maintain a high level of visibility throughout their supply chain will benefit from increased safety, lower risk of errors, reduced cost, and improved customer satisfaction.
In today’s digital world, there are many ways to implement visibility measures into your business practices. This can be done through computerized systems that track inventory and orders, barcodes, or radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on products, or other innovative modern technologies. These types of systems can not only keep you always informed on the location of your products but also allow you to detect theft, tampering or defects in packaging before they get shipped out.
A proactive approach such as this is necessary to reduce the risk of having issues with faulty goods or health and safety hazards that could affect customers. It is crucial for businesses in the pharmaceutical industry where an error may result in death, injury, or permanent disability because it is so important to make sure every step has been taken to provide quality assurance along the way.
Figure 1:Steps to be taken to ensure quality in the supply chain
- 1.Identify customer supply chain activities – Track customer shipments as soon as they are picked up and shipped in real-time. Always have visibility on what has been delivered, where it is currently located, and any time delays.
- 2.Utilize location-based technologies – Utilize the latest in GPS technology to monitor transportation so you can track deliveries from start to finish with ease. This will give you full control of your supply chain and alert you to any discrepancies immediately instead of having to search through multiple records manually later.
- 3.Use big data analytics tools – Leverage automated big data analytics tools that provide a complete view of all activity across every part of your supply chain.
- 4.Share accountability with everyone involved – Make sure that everyone who handles or touches the product throughout its life cycle knows their responsibility at every step and is held accountable if there’s a problem somewhere along the way.
- 5.Understand global dynamics – Achieving visibility means understanding not only what is happening locally but also globally, and how global events may affect local ones (and vice versa).
- 6.Keep customers informed – Be transparent about what is happening throughout the entire process by keeping customers informed about shipping schedules and any issues that arise during shipment.
Finding the Right Solution
One of the biggest challenges in managing supply chain visibility is the coordination of all parties involved. Creating and executing a plan can often be complicated with multiple stakeholders, especially when that involves crossing borders or distributing products from different geographic locations.
Various software solutions and cloud-based platforms are available to help with these challenges, but companies need to choose the right technology for their needs.
The following benefits should be considered before choosing a solution:
- 1.A single solution that integrates data across the entire supply chain.
- 2.An accurate view of each vendor’s location and inventory levels.
- 3.Being able to work seamlessly with one another regardless of location or platform.
When considering which solution is best for you, it is important to evaluate your company’s goals and make sure that your decision will support those goals.
Your business may have specific needs related to planning and forecasting, inventory management, asset tracking or other capabilities. By determining what you want to achieve through supply chain visibility, you will be better equipped to decide about which product or service fits your company’s unique situation best. In some cases, implementing an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is ideal for connecting diverse systems, tracking assets on a global scale, and organizing all activities from sales orders to invoices.
Microsoft Dynamics 365, through its a combination of big data and analytics that are continuously updated, can provide valuable insights to help pharmaceutical companies achieve more supply chain visibility by assisting with inventory tracking, forecasting, customer insights and trade spend. By having these features readily available, a business can get the real-time visibility they need to gain insight into market fluctuations and improve their order fulfillment rate.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers benefits in automating complex processes such as invoicing, accounting, and sales analysis.
Some of the software’s inventory management capabilities make it an efficient way to manage many aspects of supply chain visibility. It is also good for tracking inventory distribution across multiple warehouses or stores in order to gain greater supply chain visibility. Plus, Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers deep insights into customer behavior which helps track competitive offerings and measure performance success by channel. Finally, Dynamic’s manufacturing features provide details critical to maintaining safe working conditions while reducing manufacturing costs.
In addition to providing information on order fulfillment rates and logistics processes, this type of system also improves control over manufacturing process timescales and provides alerts if any disruptions occur in any part of the system.
Next steps for most companies should be getting together with your partner to discuss supply chain visibility. At this point it is vital that there is an organized and ongoing audit process in place, so you know what needs improving and where to go next. Once a plan has been created, it should be revisited at least once a year or when processes change, or the latest information becomes available.
A third party can play a role in this continuous improvement process by bringing impartiality and objectivity. Continuous improvement will keep your company ahead of evolving regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which means not only maintaining compliance but staying ahead of potential requirements by gaining valuable insights through accurate supply chain visibility.
Better supply chain visibility will also help you identify trends that lead to additional revenue opportunities such as inventory obsolescence or potential overproduction. For example, if your sales team were telling you about reduced demand for certain products and giving feedback on how to address the problem, these insights could come from supply chain visibility. Ultimately, working with the right partner to achieve greater supply chain visibility will enable your company to thrive despite external pressures or any changes to industry standards. For more information, Contact us today to see how we can help your business grow.
XcelPros is a Chicago-based company and delivers 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).
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