Rodrigo Amor
Branch Manager
View from the Top

Strategic Alliances Improve the Supply Chain

Tue, 09/06/2016 - 11:14

Q: Marken is within the top 3 medical commercialization and logistics companies. What strategies have you implemented to maintain your position and business in Mexico?

A: Marken opened a large Good Manufacture Practices (GMP) depot two years ago and just rolled out Marken Allegro, an online booking tool for all research sites in Spanish. We have moved to offer direct to patient services and are leaders in this area. We are now heavily investing in the supply chain services for cell, gene and immunotherapies as a key focus of our industry demanding high-quality services with GPS tracking and full chain of custody.

Q: How has this tracking system contributed to a reduction in costs of your internal operations and was it developed in association with another company?

A: The software was initiated by a developer and Marken acquired the rights to it before it was finalized. This was extremely convenient as we were then able to adapt it to our requirements. It allows us to monitor costs more closely and helps with our visibility. Regional operative directors were also involved in the development phase. We made sure it offered optimal traceability, letting our customers know when the product was shipped and when it is expected to land so they can plan for its reception with minimal time lost. We enter routes into the system and then assign a cost per shipment. We can thus see what cities or routes provide better costs and find ways to improve the situation in those that don’t.

Q: One of the industry’s most important objectives is cost reduction. What are the biggest challenges these companies will have to overcome to succeed?

A: Companies want cost reductions but they are also managing more complex projects. The strategies that we have put together to respond to this involve making our processes as efficient as possible in addition to creating strategic alliances with commercial partners. A few years ago, the routes to transport drug product and biological samples were much less developed, leaving companies with few options. Recovering samples was a challenge and it was common to use on-board couriers to collect these. This came at a high cost. The development of a more efficient logistics network with dedicated personnel and strategic alliances has allowed the creation of better and less expensive routes, facilitating the transportation of goods. These strategic alliances include airlines, a great advancement for the industry. We have a strong alliance with Aeroméxico, which has allowed us to increase the efficiency of routes while reducing transit time as well as costs increasing visibility and quality.

Q: Why were airlines not part of the supply chain before?

A: This was mainly because of a lack of knowledge surrounding biological samples. The majority of samples we transport are at room temperature or frozen with dry ice, and Marken provides the proper type of packaging per temperature for shipment, which facilitates transportation and reassures airlines into being part of the supply chain. We worked closely with them, showing our secure transportation of samples and demonstrating the packaging is specifically made for this use. We explained that dry ice might be at risk if it is packed in an airtight container but the industry has now developed ventilated ones. These sorts of technological advantages play a big part in bringing airlines into our supply chain.

Q: What areas of opportunity do you see within Mexico’s legal framework that would facilitate and improve business without compromising quality?

A: One area of opportunity may be the excessive fiscal controls that companies with international transactions such as Marken are subject to. Certain controls are undoubtedly necessary and a new trend has emerged in making them electronic. Commercial and shipping invoices will soon become digital, putting our transit times at risk. Instead of having the customs broker or Marken produce this document we will have to reach each CRO to generate this digital receipt with their complement and they do not necessarily have the time or knowledge. In this respect, the transport of biological samples is treated by fiscal authorities as a commercial product. The industry is actively working to avoid this disruption in cooperation with SAT.