AI's role in pharmaceutical supply chains

AI’s Role in Pharmaceutical Supply Chains

What is AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains?


AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains is still evolving. Despite the technology being available for a couple of years already, new uses for it are constantly being discovered. This is only amplified by the recent discoveries in the field, paving the way for innovation in the form of a new technological revolution.

In the pharmaceutical industry, there is a lot of number crunching and working with data. Especially when it comes to the supply chain, many variables hold the key to perfecting safety and efficiency. It can be difficult for a human being to crunch all of those numbers, but it is something that AI excels at.

In this article, we are going to explore AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains. We will dive into all the ways that AI can be utilized in this field to improve outcomes and ultimately increase benefits for both patients as well as businesses. It should give you a good idea of whether or not you are on the right track. Furthermore, it might inspire you with new ways to effectively utilize AI in your own supply chain(s).


1. Analytical decision-making

According to none other than Forbes, analytical decision-making is one of the greatest impacts AI can and will have on the pharmaceutical supply chain. Most businesses only utilize a small portion of their data’s potential worth. AI-based solutions can offer total visibility with predictive data along the cold chain by gathering and evaluating data from many sources, such as prescription order and weather data along a delivery route. You can anticipate obstacles and effectively deploy resources before your supply chain begins.

Companies’ ability to make analytical decisions depends on their access to relevant data and real-time cold chain visibility, which paves the way for AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains. Predictive data analytics is necessary for the timely delivery of unspoiled pharmaceutical products. Analytical decision-making will help to considerably minimize patient risk, supply chain logistics costs, overall drug costs, and gaps in the pharmaceutical pipeline.


2. Protecting the supply chain’s integrity and agility

Counterfeit drugs or drugs of poor quality are an issue for the industry, as well as for global health organizations and society at large. Whereas essential product types require a chain of custody and chain of identification, the necessity of supply chain integrity for the biopharmaceutical industry goes beyond controlling the presence of fake goods. Businesses are investing in blockchain and AI technology to address this issue by enhancing security, transparency, and traceability.

Furthermore, AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains also has to do with protecting supply chain agility. Even more value may be obtained from the application of AI technology when ensuring drug efficacy, patient identity, and chain of custody coupled with supply chain agility.


3. Inventory management

Personalized medicine is becoming widely used thanks to biomarkers. As a result, pharmaceutical companies need to stock more therapeutics but in smaller amounts. When it comes to tracking when a product is delivered to a patient, AI-based inventory management can identify which product is most likely to be needed (and how frequently), as well as provide information on delivery times, delays, and incidents that might necessitate a replacement shipment within a few hours.

If the value of the supply chain is to be unlocked and, more critically, if patients are to have prompt, dependable access to their therapies, accurate inventory levels must be updated. This is where AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains comes in. Predictive analytics is one of those cutting-edge, intelligent technologies that may be used to follow the status of the pharmaceuticals along the supply chain and make prompt, proactive interventions when problems develop.


4. Warehouse automation

Automation systems for warehouses that incorporate AI speed up communications and lower error rates in “pick and pack” environments. In its most basic form, AI places items where they will be stored for the longest. A cold-chain food supplier named Lineage Logistics saw a 20% boost in productivity using this strategy. In another instance, AI places high-volume items in a convenient location while yet minimizing congestion.


5. Predictive maintenance

Business interruption brought on by a compliance, quality, or safety issue is a frequent problem for biotech companies, but exactly the kind that AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains can address. Using AI-enabled predictive maintenance, which offers insights into operations and equipment performance, including predicting defects or other difficulties, can reduce this to a minimum and increase operational effectiveness, including machine uptime.


AI in pharma

Implementing AI into your supply chain operations

AI will change the industry’s operational models during the next five years. Full digitalization, however, necessitates a fundamental change from static, interconnected, and closed digital supply networks to dynamic, interconnected, and open digital supply networks. Here are some steps for pharmaceutical companies looking to capitalize on the coming AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains:

  1. Prepare your data and make sure you own it. You want a strong pipeline of clean data, a developed logistics ecosystem, historical information on temperature, environmental factors, packaging, and any other information you gather along your cold chain. Start gathering clean data right away if you don’t already have any. Verify that you actually own the data that you believe you do. Some suppliers assert ownership over the thermal data that their systems produce and forbid its manipulation by outside software. This prevents its use in conjunction with other data sources for AI analysis. In this case, either change vendors or negotiate ownership.
  2. Verify that you have the internal capabilities to support AI. IT staff generally lack the necessary expertise for implementing or supporting an AI/machine learning strategy. Think about enhancing the IT team’s skills or requiring AI proficiency from your next recruitment. Additionally, make sure they are forward-looking and understand AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains.
  3. Learn from other industries. Experts in digital technology from many sectors have formed a number of partnerships over the past three years with the goal of creating AI solutions for the biopharmaceutical production process. They provide biopharma businesses with promising potential. Biopharma can also pick up knowledge and innovative models from other industries and apply them to its own business.
  4. Try and maintain harmony with regulators. In the world of pharmaceuticals, regulations carry a lot of weight and greatly influence what companies can and cannot do. Failure to comply with them can harm a company’s reputation and have significant legal and financial ramifications. Moreover, biopharmaceutical companies view their own regulatory activities as strategic assets and are streamlining clinical, quality, and regulatory procedures in order to break down functional silos and increase compliance efficiency. The use of automation and data management is also assisting biopharma in acquiring the necessary skills to improve its ability to work with regulators to assure compliance. When it comes to implementing new technologies like AI, however, great care should still be taken to comply with regulations every step of the way.

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Understanding AI’s role in pharmaceutical supply chains

After reading this article, you should have a clearer understanding of what role AI plays in any given pharma or biotech supply chain. As the technology continues to develop, AI will have a greater and greater influence in the pharma world. The reason we have provided this analysis along with tips on beginning to implement AI into your supply chain is because it is a way of future-proofing your company. If you would like any more help implementing AI into your supply chain processes or anything else regarding serialization, do check out the services that we offer. From Evolve to Assessment to Accelerator, they are all specially designed to grow and optimize your pharma business and help it reach new levels.

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