Data, Traceability Support Health LogisticsBy Alfonso Núñez | Thu, 02/17/2022 - 15:37
The pandemic transformed the logistics industry by changing client expectations regarding delivery times, which were made possible thanks to the fast adaptation of logtech advancements improving communication with freight forwarders. The pharmaceutical logistics industry is no different. Industry insiders discussed recent and future innovations for the industry through the increased incorporation of traceability and big data technology during Mexico Health Summit 2022.
The implementation of these technologies brought forward major changes and benefits to the transportation of health supplies. From a freight forwarder’s perspective, technology improved distribution practices through the implementation of smart sensors to measure temperature, light, security and geographical location in real time to provide better information to clients.
Following the pandemic, the medical industry is catching up in the implementation of technology as the sector had not capitalized in this area, said Andrés Posada, Supply Chain Manager Mexico and Central America, Boston Scientific. The pandemic forced the sector to be even more flexible. Some hospitals in Latin America that might have been registering processes by hand adopted new technologies and processes following the outbreak.
Freight forwarders are not staying behind. “Within the medical devices industry, the implementation of blockchain and AI is being explored to improve logistics distribution,” said Posada.
Many logistics partners of medical companies are using logtech developments to provide better services. DHL’s DHLi, for example, allows customers to exchange information with companies to optimize their logistics, said Liliana Castillo Bautista, Head of Life Sciences and Chemicals Sales, DHL Global Forwarding México. This information is then readily available for customers in real time, as DHL does not only provide basic geographic information but also data regarding the temperature, light and security of products en-route. These traceability processes are made possible through the collection of big data, making DHL not only a service provider but a business partner of their clients.
“Logistic distributors work hand in hand with laboratories to ensure the best distribution practices for drugs and medical equipment,” Bautista said in reference to one of the many ways freight forwarders collaborate with clients to ensure best practices.
Big data expedited the optimization of routes by logistics companies worldwide but in Mexico additional regulation regarding this development and other technologies are needed, said Miguel Angelo Ricchiuti, Operations and Supply Chain Director Mexico and LATAM, Apotex. Industry 4.0 has arrived but Mexico is still behind countries such as Brazil and Argentina in digitalization, serialization and regulation, necessary tools for industry players to ensure that their technologies are sound proof and their products cannot be replicated.
Once these hurdles are overcome, there are infinite opportunities in the sector, said Ricchiuti. AI is one of these, as even though it is usually thought of only in aspects of robotization and automatization, it has the potential to bring benefits to all individuals in the industry. IoT and AI technology will not replace human labor, Ricchiuti said, but lower demand for human labor to manage simple tasks, smoothen out transportation processes and reduce overall costs.
Interconnection between clients and suppliers through blockchain systems is another innovation that could continue to optimize in-real-time traceability, benefitting all players. Pharmaceutical companies, in particular, use less warehouse space to store higher-value products that need more technological security and information about their geological location. The industry was not prepared for the challenges the pandemic brought but with the increased incorporation of technological advancements, it seems to be better prepared for whatever may come in the future.