What can we expect from Future Life Sciences Supply Chains?

life sciencesIn every industry, supply chains are continually evolving to meet shifting business requirements, trim costs, and integrate new technologies. Given the scale and rate at which the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is changing, the life sciences and healthcare sectors are experiencing a full-scale disruption to their supply chains.

Firms in spaces such as medical products, pharmaceuticals, and supplements face a unique challenge in meeting their various regulatory obligations while also ensuring that products are efficiently tracked and managed at every step, often across multiple IT systems.

In this update, we’ll cover some of the ongoing trends to keep an eye on in the industry, along with the role that Oracle Cloud modules are playing in modernizing supply operations, including specific organizations that have partnered with AVATA.

3 of the biggest challenges today for supply chains in the life sciences industry

While we could write a novel about what this sector’s supply chain looks like now and where it’s headed, instead we’ll condense our thoughts into just three significant points that collectively cover most of what’s going on. Let’s start with a trend that affects fundamental operations, namely, difficulties related to ERP systems.

1. The ERP evolution conundrum

ERPs are often inefficient and difficult to manage. One reason is that, in many cases, they’re built on outdated or disparate technologies, for example, due to a string of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). That won’t cut it in a world in which supply chains are more important than ever for establishing strategic advantage.

M&A is common in life sciences, with deals such as Bristol-Myers Squibb’s 2019 purchase of Celgene routinely making headlines. Most deals are not of that scale, but the global expansion of a company’s operations can lead to ERP problems, with limited overall visibility due to different solutions being grafted onto one another, i.e., poorly integrated.

Technical issues can arise from other causes, too. Before AVATA began working with medical equipment maker ResMed, that firm was trying to maintain an aging ERP system as well as a Demantra implementation, each of which required a different version of Java. Their global supply chain needed an overhaul.

To help, AVATA upgraded ResMed’s systems to the Oracle Demand Management Cloud and Supply Planning Cloud. These cloud modules gave ResMed superior planning capabilities, plus the ability to set up profiles for every market and product around the globe. Such ERP and supply chain modernization via the cloud will be essential for life sciences firms to stay competitive in the future.

2. The spread of Internet of Things

The emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) was a defining technological event of the 2010s. For life sciences firms, it has had and will continue to have particular importance across multiple fronts of the supply chain:

  • For makers of pharmaceuticals and supplements, IoT infrastructure streamlines the process of tracking inventory and manufacturing processes.
  • Device manufacturers can also build IoT connectivity into their solutions so that critical data on patient conditions and activities can be better shared with providers.
  • IoT components are also essential to research and development, for instance, through innovations such as organs-on-a-chip that can be used for testing.

 

Looking ahead, we should expect IoT to become even more integrated into life science supply chains, whether in the form of smart sensors that ensure that trucks are adequately air-conditioned or connections that support more efficient drug and supplement manufacturing. Ideally, IoT will help life sciences companies reliably transform demand into supply and wring out inefficiencies.

AVATA worked with vitamin and supplement maker Garden of Life to do just that and further future-proof its supply chain as technologies like IoT and cloud computing comes to the fore. Garden of Life had previously relied on EBS, but with AVATA’s assistance, they implemented Supply Planning Cloud which centralized supply chain planning and pulled data from multiple sources.

3. The changing face of regulation

As one of the most heavily regulated industries, the life sciences space must keep up with ever-changing requirements from bodies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A fully compliant global supply chain can end up being quite complicated:

  • Life sciences firms rely on third parties, e.g. contractors and numerous suppliers, to sustain their operations. These partners need to be monitored with due diligence since issues with their practices can mean regulatory action. The number of FDA warning letters increased sharply, starting in the mid 2010’s, underscoring the risk here.
  • In the wake of legislation like the 21st Century Cures Act, regulatory approval for specific therapies has been accelerated. However, it can be challenging to set up a workable supply chain on a shorter timetable so that products can be dependably brought to providers and patients.
  • Manufacturing is a key concern as well since the process complexity and variability involved can become regulatory concerns. The growth of IoT, plus the global nature of life sciences supply chains, amplifies the challenges around manufacturing and requires a modern solution to ensure the best possible control and efficiency.

 

To that end, health product manufacturer DeRoyal Industries worked with AVATA to supplant its legacy JDE and Demantra setups with Oracle Demand Management Cloud. Although based in Tennessee, DeRoyal has manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and in Central America and Europe.

AVATA’s assistance ensured that Oracle cloud modules supported DeRoyal’s operations. Demand Management Cloud enables more accurate anticipation of customer demand through more detailed forecasting and multidimensional modeling. It also fuels better customer service and inventory management, since tracking of demand is in real-time.

Ensure your life sciences firm has the right supply chain for the 2020s and beyond

The life sciences industry is experiencing significant shifts in how ERP systems, internet-connected technologies, and government regulations work. Navigating these trends during a time of crisis requires the right cloud-based solution and an experienced partner to ensure success.

AVATA is much more than a pure system integrator. We are an Oracle strategic partner, with a fundamental commitment to customers and an extensive track record of successfully implementing solutions across the Oracle SCM, EPM and ERP Cloud.

As our global partners and communities continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, we are committed to helping navigate potential challenges and uncertainty.  We will persevere together.

Learn more by contacting our team today.