In order to better meet increasing demand cost-effectively, the life sciences industry needs to have more advanced supply chains, according to a new report by DHL.
The report ‘Future of Life Sciences and Healthcare Logistics’ highlights the urgency for the sector to transform in response to evolving patient needs and technology advancements. A recent report ranks the sector in the bottom 20th percentile of the McKinsey Global Institute Industry Digitization Index, lagging behind the public sector.
“The Life Sciences and Healthcare sector is currently going through a transformational phase of its operating models and supply chains,"said Bill Meah, COO, DHL. "The industry is affected by cost pressure from governments and regulatory authorities, changing consumer behavior as well as the effects of digitalization. For those companies who leverage the power of technologically advanced supply chains, there will be a clear competitive advantage that could ultimately prove the difference between surviving or prospering.”
The report provides insights on key trends in the industry and how the evolving patient-centric healthcare approach will require more complex, capable and cost-effective supply chains.
The six transformational trends and technologies include:
1) Advancing Data Analytics (Big Data)
This technology lets healthcare providers make more informed decisions about the management of their operations by connecting all members of a healthcare system and combining data. This helps better predict demand and can cut cost and improves efficiency in Life Sciences logistics and supply chain operations.
2) Internet of Things (IoT)
This technology provides increased visibility and connectivity across the supply chain, with tighter control of product inventories across the supply chain, reducing loss and waste. Stronger links between physical products and data will also aid the industry its ongoing battle against theft and counterfeiting.
3) Healthcare On-Demand (On-Demand Delivery)
These models are in response to increasing online and home care channels. With the online pharmaceutical market expected to grow to $128 billion by 2023, delivery channels are also being transformed with new direct-to-consumer delivery models and to increase speed and flexibility in last mile. The report predicts Life sciences manufacturers will also go further downstream into hospitals to enable on-demand delivery of devices from medical parts to surgery kits.
4) Robotics and Automation
The use of robots and automated vehicles will bring solutions to reduce labor required in repetitive tasks such as picking products in warehouses to sorting and analyzing laboratory samples. Further, aerial drones will be used to enable faster, cheaper last mile deliveries in remote areas.
5) Augmented Reality
This technology will be used to increase efficiency. New ways of displaying and presenting information will make supply chain operations more accurate and more efficient in a host of situations – from selecting the right product from warehouse shelves to providing frontline medical teams with patient information at a glance.
6) Additive Manufacturing
This technology will enable medical devices and even drugs to be increasingly personalized and manufactured on demand using advanced 3D printing systems. This will change treatments and transform supply chains, with more products manufactured close to the point of use and decentralized production networks.