Why the Cold Chain is Moving to the Cloud

Creating an effective cold chain supply line is not just about monitoring and delivering medical items to their destination. It takes detailed data analysis and technological precision to keep the products in pristine condition. Keeping hand-written records on the status of medical products is no longer sufficient. Pharmaceutical companies need to be constantly updated on the precise temperature and condition of their products while in transit.

 With rapid changes in technology, the old methods of keeping track of medical supplies can no longer sustain the cold chain line. An innovative method must be in place to keep accurate records and help in making corrections in real-time, if something goes wrong.

All businesses are moving towards the cloud with increased digitization. To keep abreast of the changing market conditions, it’s imperative to augment cold chain supply processes with the latest security, adaptability, and accessibility hardware and software. A cold chain network is no longer simply about the physical delivery of products and services. Modern-day supply cold chains process the flow of information, commerce, and resources immediately. As the cold chain market evolves, businesses are on a hunt for better methods of monitoring the movement of products. Moving the cold storage supply chain to the cloud is essential to keep track of the status and location of goods in real-time.

Transferring to the cloud provides a competitive edge to businesses, enabling them to increase their profit margins. Cloud supply chain management is the best method to enable business to consolidate operations under one cloud-based infrastructure. It enhances their business dealings with improved agility, visibility, analytics, and execution capabilities, to maximize revenue and growth.

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On-Premises Cold Chain Supply Line is Lagging behind with Today’s Needs

More often, too many investments are being spent on maintenance and upgrades, instead of looking for new technologies. On-premises solutions, upgrades, and old system are trying to keep up with emerging technologies, which can be expensive and could be a waste of time.

Without complete, accurate, real-time monitoring, almost every aspect of the business can be affected, from product design and production costs to quality, compliance, and customer satisfaction. What is needed are new technologies to drive cold chain operations based on additional incremental value and business needs.

The Modern, End-to-End Supply Chain

Cold chain innovators are moving forward to building a modern, flexible, end-to-end supply chain that’s in tune with the dynamic challenges of today’s business world.

Eventually, this would mean transitioning to the cloud. As a case in point, IDC’s 2018 Supply Chain Survey said that 75% of companies think that the cloud was critical to cold chain excellence today and will continue to be so in the future.

These days, cold chain leaders are delivering millions of tons of perishable food and beverage products, medicines, vaccines, and materials that constantly require strict temperature control and monitoring to ensure product quality and integrity.

Cold chain operations provide critical infrastructure for the production, distribution, and consumption of goods, and span thousands of miles across the globe, involving numerous players.

An effective cold chain strategy is critical to operational efficiency, compliance, customer satisfaction, and respecting the environment. New regulations, changing demands, new products, and new technologies are entering the market. This has created an increased need for reliable supplier management. Poor management of global cold chain logistics must be replaced as new methods are breaching the limits of old style global cold chain models.

Modern cold chain logistics need agility, integration, visibility, and predictability that traditional systems and technologies are unable to deliver. Tweaking temperature-controlled chain systems can incur unnecessary expenses to innovate and not result in desired flexibility needed to respond to the evolving market demand. Cold chain old practices may not only hamper growth, but also can compromise the pharma company’s survival.

In the pharma industry sector, where temperature-controlled shipments account for 85% of the cold chain process, progress towards integrated, end-to-end visibility through the adoption of cloud computing and data analytics is becoming more common.

Cloud-based cold chain monitoring is more advantageous than hand-writing records of the temperatures. Cloud-base solutions include lower upfront access, secure access, simplified integration, automated, and continuous upgrades, that are easily scalable. With the addition of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, it is now possible to track temperature, humidity, light, and pressure, via sensors, producing real-time data regarding product quality and integrity.

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Cold Chain Supply Management

Effective cold chain management is critical to the operational efficiency, customer centrality, regulations compliance, carbon footprint, and overall success of the pharmaceutical industry. If done correctly, the cold chain should improve customer service, along with the reputation of the company in order to boost the bottom line. Today, as for any other business, the playing field Is changing.

New regulations, increased buyer expectations, shorter product lifecycles, fluctuations in demand, new market entrants, and poor visibility of globalized supply chains, are all elements changing the rules of traditional, on-premises cold chain models.

The pharmaceutical business needs a new kind of flexibility, integration, and visibility that the traditional monitoring system cannot provide.

The Challenges faced by on-premises applications for Cold Chain

Whether it is food or pharmaceutical products, every item has a prescribed temperature and content requirement. Perishable goods temperatures need to be constantly checked, updated, and tracked across the supply chain.

Some challenges faced by on-premise applications in managing a cold supply chain:

1. Spoilage and maintaining quality

2. Disruptions in the supply chain owing to a volatile market

3.  Surging volumes of internal and external data

4. Need for unabated connectivity and visibility

5. Need for flexibility

6. Security risks

Advantages of Cloud Supply Chain Management

Completeness and accuracy

One of the biggest problems with a traditional temperature monitoring solution for the cold chain is the challenge of implementing systems to ensure that information is accurate and can be accessed from anywhere. In the life sciences cold chain, valuable pharmaceutical products, medicines, and vaccines transfer through various handoff points until they reach the final user. It used to be that critical cold chain data on the safety and integrity of the medical products could only be viewed upon the completion of the delivery.

Cold chain monitoring by the cloud gives a seamless, real-time, flow of information to various players involved, as well as the ability to rectify the situation if a problem arises, such as with financial systems, enterprise resource management software (ERP), quality management systems, and others.

Cloud access provides real-time monitoring and data analysis through a single source of streaming information that shows the situation of the cold chain operations. Information that used to be written and recorded can now be viewed remotely, providing the ability to analyze and correct any anomalies in the cold chain data.

Collaboration

Companies need to have close collaborations with the different cold chain providers to have a successful supply chain strategy. It’s important that businesses extend their working relationship beyond the confines of their company. Communications to manufacturers, shippers, carriers, wholesalers, and distributors are essential to the accuracy and validity of information shared.

Information shared among stakeholders can make the cold chain strategy succeed. This is especially imperative in cold chains where patient and product safety are paramount.

Before the cloud, pharmaceutical companies and food and beverage brands used to check the status of their goods via outside data, which, in most circumstances provided an inaccurate and incomplete picture of hazardous conditions that products were exposed to while in transit.

With the cloud-enabled software, pharmaceuticals can now monitor in real-time the cold chain conditions pertaining to the products’ prescribed settings. They now own the data and no longer need to rely on outside sources such as logistics partners, shippers, and carriers.

Speed

Innovation is a key to the success of most businesses. When there are obstacles between strategy and execution, they can hamper the commercialization of products and result in loss of profits. End-to-end cold chain visibility means delivering the products to the end-user faster, while controlling risk. With the enhanced ability to monitor, and better decision-making via the source of cold chain temperature data, pharma companies have the ability to quickly identify risk while continuously working on improvements.

Agility and flexibility

There are several factors in the increasing demand for cold chains. For the life sciences cold chain, new vaccines, medicines and technologies, aging populations, and improving cold chain strategies create more demand. Pharmaceutical mergers and consolidations are also increasing the ability to adapt to an ever-evolving landscape.

Cloud-enabled, digitalized cold chains are flexible and efficient, providing instantaneous access to critical real-time and information analysis to make informed business decisions.

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Cost and efficiency

Cloud-based cold chain management solutions provide several financial advantages to businesses. Low upfront investments and subscription-based pricing are significant because they reduce capital expense costs (CapEx) needed for a large initial outlay.

Cloud-enabled supply chain software can provide real-time or near real-time data, providing enterprises with the ability to proactively respond to quality issues in the supply chain and take immediate corrective action to prevent product waste. Over time, this can add up to significant, exponential cost savings and a reduced carbon footprint.

Ease of use

Cloud-enabled supply chain technology helps speed up deployments. This translates to time and cost savings, which can instead be directed towards innovation.

For the end-user, cloud-based software can provide an intuitive user experience and quick access to data and insights, including shipment statuses and deviations, from a desktop or mobile device.

Security

The old approach of IT has been: if it cannot be controlled, it isn’t secure. This kind of thinking is common in industries that are highly regulated. Pharmaceutical companies are known to have this outlook. Vaccines and medicines are the products of years of intense research and cost millions of dollars to make, so the threat of industrial espionage is very real to them.

Today, leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) providers are storing important financial information in the cloud. Pharmaceutical companies are also moving towards real-time temperature and product movement monitoring software solutions, in which their data is transferred to the cloud.

The data should be compliant for pharmaceutical use. Government regulatory bodies in the U.S. and Europe use high security and redundancy standards for their databases. Data integrity must be secured as it passes from a device to the end-user. The use of IoT and cloud-based solutions can ensure that data is validated and compliant for pharmaceutical use.

Data and predictive analytics

Moving forward, the capabilities of real-time data and analytics will help transform global supply chains. Cloud-based dashboards are already enabling businesses to use data to drive their planning activities. Insights regarding lanes (risk points tied to factors such as weather and time of year), suppliers, logistics partners, packaging, and so on, are driving crucial decision making today.

Many established organizations are finding that the demands of their supply chains are increasing as IT budgets are being reduced.

Conclusions

Cloud software solutions are increasing in use today, and in the future, especially within the most highly regulated industries. Unfounded concerns about data not being stored within the premises of a company are no longer reasonable. Eventually, more supply chains will be digitalized, with improved efficiencies, and more able to comply with future demands. The pace of business evolution will continue to accelerate.

In today’s business environment, customers expect more as they accelerate the marketing of existing and new products, and as young companies enter the market daily.

With so much invested to keep up current market trends, companies will need agility and scalability across the supply chain to maintain profitability and growth.

Cloud Cold Chain Management gives companies the capability to test innovative technologies at low costs.

Reference links:

https://www.supplychain247.com/article/why_supply_chain_leaders_are_migrating_to_the_cloud

https://controlant.com/blog/2019/why-the-cold-chain-is-moving-to-the-cloud/

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