Medicine often must be kept in a specific temperature range during the shipping process or it can be damaged, which is why pharma manufacturers favor cold chain logistics. Here's a look at how cold chain logistics is helping improve the healthcare industry.
Preparing for an Aging Population
The pharmaceutical industry is expected to surpass $1 trillion by 2022 partly due to an aging population and rising wealth in developed nations. Biologics such as gene therapy will play a big role in this market, which will require precise temperature monitoring in supply chains. The implementation of cold chain logistics will contribute to more efficient deliveries.
As part of this transformation, IoT sensors will be used to monitor perishable goods throughout the shipping process. Aside from temperature, they will use real-time data to take into account humidity, vibration, ambient light, tilt, shocks, and precise location. AI software can recommend solutions when medical products are in jeopardy of spoiling.
Crucial Aspects of Cold Chain Logistics
Pharma companies must abide by regional requirements when shipping medical products. The use of temperature monitoring and data logging helps establish compliance for local regulatory authorities. Data logging devices capture metrics on temperature and other factors by placing IoT sensors in strategic places such as in manufacturing plants, on delivery vehicles, and within individual packages.
Light sensors can be installed inside packages to confirm product conditions. The built-in temperature monitoring automatically adjusts temperatures to meet delivery requirements. This technology allows analysts to pinpoint where and when problems occur in the supply chain. Another component of cold chain monitoring is machine learning software that analyzes the logging data to recommend process improvements.
Using temperature control in logistics helps resolve a variety of typical supply chain issues such as unexpected delays, clearing customs inspection, and fixing equipment malfunctions. Despite the fact that pharma products rely on temperature consistency to maintain quality, a recent UPS "Pain In the Chain" survey found that over 30 percent of pharma deliveries reached destinations with some form of degradation. Clearly, there's an urgent need to improve pharma storage and handling, which can be achieved with smart thermometers.
Keys to Effective Cold Chain Monitoring
Pharma manufacturers are investing in IoT technology to improve shipping or delivery processes, as sensors can be placed throughout the supply chain for the following benefits:
- Deep temperature data - Monitoring temperatures in real-time creates a backlog of comprehensive data. What may look like information overkill to a human can feed a machine learning program with the data it needs to make temperature forecasts and adjustments. AI will be extremely valuable for preventing unit losses during shipping.
- Real-time monitoring - Even when temperatures are ideal for shipping pharma products, it's still helpful to collect a wealth of other data that can affect the product's quality, including vibration from a bumpy ride.
- Package monitoring - Cold chain monitoring needs to be at the package level to avoid hotspots where problems develop in shipping, such as with items loaded last or located next to a malfunctioning cooling unit.
- Reliable connectivity - Sensors must remain connected to the network at all times to retrieve data. More RFID innovations are always on the horizon to ensure continuous and more reliable connectivity.
Pharma manufacturers looking to improve ROI should make sure the IoT solutions they invest in are capable of real-time monitoring, reliable connectivity, and (if necessary) equipped with durable batteries.