business woman leader standing with laptop

Keeping Cool with Your Supply Chain

business woman leader standing with laptopBy Forrest Hobbs

Peace of mind is what every supply chain manager wants to have, and that only happens when you know the status and condition of your products at any given stage of the supply chain. And to do that, you need an effective digital visibility platform.

The cold chain in particular is at the forefront of vaccine logistics as pharmaceutical companies struggle to meet vaccine demand and cold chain transportation companies continue to shift to meet the call. Visibility and real-time monitoring of risk have always been important, but the appetite to invest explicitly in these tools was limited. Now, in the first quarter of 2021, the business case for resilience is at the forefront, according to Scott Sureddin, CEO of DHL Supply Chain North America,

Yet even with this continued surge in demand for increased data and tracking, many companies aren’t truly meeting their visibility needs. We teamed up with Sapio Research to survey over 200 U.S. supply chain decision-makers across the pharmaceutical and food & beverage industries, and found that 92% of total respondents said they could not 100% trust the data coming in from tracking products within their supply chain. The overwhelming majority (87%) of respondents in the pharmaceutical industry said they do not have 100% visibility into the condition of products in their supply chain during the last mile of delivery, while 13% said they had 0% visibility during this transition.

Most Problems Occur During In-Transit Phase

Problems with visibility begin to arise when the product begins its journey. In transit to distribution was unanimous across the board (32%) as the most likely point in the supply chain for product spoilage to occur. This is because products are much easier to control during the initial phases of distribution because they are often sitting in local storage being prepared for shipment.

On-Time, In-Full (OTIF) is one of the important measures when analyzing supply chain performance. OTIF is simply the number of orders that were delivered on time, with the right quantity of the correct products, on the day that the customer required them. “On time” is particularly critical when it comes to transporting cold chain products such as vaccines and perishable food items. Unfortunately, 25% of vaccines are degraded by the time they arrive at their destination. More handlers and transitions tend to lead to a decrease in visibility of product conditions, therefore increasing the chance of spoilage. In our survey, 23% of those respondents said they did not have any processes in place to prevent product spoilage before it occurs.

So how do you know if you can trust your tracking systems? The whole point of being able to track products is to see what is happening to the product in real time, giving you the ability to intervene and address problems as they occur. You can trust your cold chain monitoring system if the data reflects continuous, real-time information about the physical state of your product at any moment in time during transport. A digital visibility platform provides you with that level of real-time data streams, so you can control the chaos and get the critical information you need to identify and maintain the integrity of your pharmaceutical products.

Last-Mile Delivery Challenges

Last-mile delivery is often the most difficult part of a package’s journey. According to our Supply Chain Visibility report, the overwhelming majority (87%) of respondents in the pharmaceutical industry said they do not have 100% visibility into the condition of products in their supply chain during the last mile of delivery, while 13% of respondents said they had 0% visibility during this transition.  “What’s the status of our product in the last mile of the supply chain?” It’s the worst question your CEO can ask you when you don’t have the answer. Yet it’s a critical piece of information that can make the difference between successful delivery or complete loss. A digital visibility platform can act as a real-time collection point to track, monitor and analyze multiple data streams, alerting stakeholders of the movement, status, location and condition of the elements fundamental to their areas of responsibility, all the way down to the last mile.

For pharmaceutical companies in particular, cold chain monitoring is a key requirement. With supply chains disrupted, urgent medical priorities and new products coming to market quickly, it is essential to address the blind spots within the cold chain to mitigate losses from missed handoffs, theft, product spoilage, re-testing and compliance issues.

The Need for a Digital Visibility Platform

A digital visibility platform can help you see problems as they are happening instead of notifying you only after the consequences. You may have read about the fact that a freezer full of 1,900 COVID vaccines shut off after the electrical plug became loose. The vaccines could have been saved if that freezer had temperature-reading sensor equipment connected to a digital visibility platform that could provide real-time alerts to all stakeholders.

The need for a trusted digital visibility platform that provides real-time tracking cold chain processes is clear. With 34% of respondents our survey claiming product damage or spoilage was their number one problem within their supply chain, having a clear understanding of where product spoilage occurs is key in mitigating future occurrences.

Download our Supply Chain Visibility Report to learn more about what your supply chain blind spots are costing you. Ready to get started? Contact us to learn more about how Cloudleaf enables monitoring of cold chain product temperature, humidity, compliance, and more.