Choosing your 3PL healthcare provider often comes down to cost, but your willingness to spend is always measurable by the service that you get. Quality cold chain logistics from a trusted supply chain management partner will provide greater delivery on time in full (OTIF) to reduce the issues you face – and to ultimately save you money.
Certainly, pharmaceutical supply chains face more challenges than most – with high value, highly sensitive products needing specialist knowledge and equipment to meet constant demand.
Indeed, in 2014 Privett and Gonsalvez’ critical logistics study found that,
in one case, the low quality service from a 3PL provider cost a supplier $76,000
for one batch of expired HIV combination drugs alone.
With inadequate warehousing facilities and poorly trained staff they were ill-equipped to manage inventory, leading to substantial quantities of critical medicines expiring before they’d even left the depot.
A trusted cold chain logistics provider could help with a lack of quality control and coordination, inventory and order management, demand information, human resource, shortage, expiration, warehousing, visibility, and temperature control.
To achieve this, three key supply chain management components can help you manage high volumes with quality-driven logistics:
- Planning and Analytics
It is crucial that your supply chain is expertly coordinated to successfully deliver time critical medicines. We’ve found from experience that short lead times are heavily pressurised when dealing with sensitive pharmaceuticals, especially when at the end of an end-to-end chain there’s a patient in great need.
Privett and Gonsalvez’ study found that a lack of coordination was a serious concern for all of the logistics directors they interviewed. Without it, resource is wasted or duplicated, performance dwindles, and product value can depreciate.
Having a 3PL partner who thoroughly prepares and understands your business is a sure sign of quality cold chain logistics. Advanced planning and smart diagnostic tools will enable you to avoid fragmentation of your supply chain – ensuring you no longer work in silos with poor communications and room for mistakes.
A control tower management system is key. With it you can ensure end-to-end supply chain visibility across multiple partners, with supply chain strategy alignment. Process visibility and a single point of contact will allow you to raise any concerns quickly so your 3PL can react fast to issues if they arise.
- Training and Expertise
Streamlining your processes will make for a more efficient supply chain management, but without well-trained staff they can’t be instigated.
A 3PL partner’s staff should be cross-trained to a high standard to handle equipment and systems designed for your business needs. While for other industries training is crucial when managing peaks, for pharmaceuticals it’s particularly important for ensuring quality control processes are understood and properly followed.
Warehouses should have robust and comprehensive First-Expired-First-Out (FEFO) inventory pull policies that all staff adhere to for expiration and inventory management. Confidently following procedure means you’re more able to handle higher volumes, reduce lead times, and get a better return on investment.
In fact, make sure to ask about your logistics partner’s accreditations as a sign of the quality of their services and commitment to continual improvement. An ISO 9001 for Quality Management Systems will indicate an international standard with global appeal.
- Specialist Equipment
For cold chain logistics, warehousing and distribution needs specialist facilities with temperature control technology to ensure there’s no unnecessary wastage of your product.
Critical medicines often need sensitive conditions to maintain their physical stability. Whether cold or ambient, new protein drugs or vaccines need to be protected from denaturation or degradation. This requires secure, temperature controlled areas of warehousing and transit designed to avoid theft, temperature deviation, and damage.
To ensure a quality service, your 3PL should then have smart tracking systems, like Yusen’s Vision, in place. Along with GPS tracking, they are vital for keeping control of the supply chain with full visibility. Keeping your supply chain secure is a priority, so visualisation will enable you to track and trace your product from end-to-end.
That way, high value, highly sensitive products can be delivered in perfect condition: quality-driven logistics expertly managed so life-saving medicines have the chance to do just that.