UPS releases medical supply chain report
UPS released its fourth annual Pain in the Supply Chain report recently, and there’s talks swirling that the logistics leader is seeing plenty of innovation among supply chain professionals across the healthcare industry.
Through phone surveys earlier this year of almost 250 supply chain executives in the United States, Europe and Asia, UPS is witnessing “a complete rethinking of supply chains,” UPS Director of Healthcare Strategy John Menna told FiercePharmaManufacturing.com.
Supply chain executives are looking for “step changes, not incremental improvements. They have an increasing appetite to do things differently,” Menna said.
The No. 1 business concern for healthcare executives globally is change in healthcare legislation/reform, which was cited by 52 percent of the respondents. Healthcare executives are focusing on investing in their supply chains to increase their competitiveness.
“Change is the only constant in healthcare today and it is happening on a global scale, driven by factors such as cost, regulatory pressures and global expansion,” Bill Hook, Vice President of Global Strategy for UPS Healthcare Logistics, said. “Going forward, companies have to find new ways to innovate and adapt to rapid market changes, and this is where the supply chain plays a pivotal role.”
SEE OTHER TOP LOGISTICS STORIES IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN DIGITAL CONTENT NETWORK
The survey found that 86 percent of respondents said that they will turn to new technologies in the next three to five years, and that 72 percent have made supply chain investments in the last 18 months.
“They’re looking at tracking technologies,” Menna said, “radio frequency identification tags, and integration of corporate systems with UPS tracking systems.”
That being said, UPS thinks they’ve found a supply chain niche in the healthcare industry.
“UPS helps healthcare companies leverage logistics to do things such as expand into new markets faster, implement greater supply chain efficiencies and improve the customer experience, leading to competitive advantages,” Hook said.
DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.