Cold Chain Solutions for the Vaccine Supply Chain

Solving the Cold Chain Challenges

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In my last post, Challenges of the Vaccine Cold Chain, we looked at the major challenges that vaccine cold chain poses. In this post we will look at how multiparty networks, such as One Network’s Digital Supply Chain Network, can address these challenges, and what such networks need to provide to solve the challenges.

Multiparty Networks are Proven Technology

One Network has years of experience in healthcare supply networks that provide medicines and vaccines to hundreds of millions of people in Africa and around the globe. For example, the One Network platform for supply chain planning and execution is used by the Ministries of Health in Nigeria, Ghana, and Rwanda, providing comprehensive inventory visibility across all health facilities for real time supply demand matching and collaborative decision making.  

One Network’s NEO Platform handles supply chain forecasting, sourcing, planning and execution (with routing and logistics optimization) for what may be the largest supply chain control tower deployment in the world. The platform’s capabilities include GPS and telematics tracking of shipments, vessels, vehicles, and packages on a global basis, including IoT devices with temperature sensors for temperature exception tracking of assets, including smart refrigerators and temperature-controlled storage devices.

8 Essential Capabilities to Optimize the Cold Chain

Ensure Product Quality: Traceability Across the Supply Network

To ensure product quality we need a system that enables us to track unit-level items, spot problems, find an optimized solution, communicate our action plan, and orchestrate a response. Business network technology enables us to do this. Business network platforms, like One Network, enable full traceability for every item from start to finish, providing visibility across final products, intermediates, and raw materials in real time from their source, across trading partners and to the end consumer. 

An effective cold chain solution must provide full traceability across the supply network, including visibility across final products, intermediates, and raw materials, across trading partners and to the end consumer. Click To Tweet

Supply Networks operate based on the trading relationships between producers, manufacturers, consumers, retailers, distributors, and suppliers. These trading relationships are structured as many-to-many, where a brand can interact with all consumers and a consumer can interact with all brands. This extends upstream in the supply chain network where a distributor can trade with all suppliers and a supplier can trade with all distributors. And with a business network architecture, as a participant in the network you only need to define yourself once to open trading relationships with all parties.  That’s in stark contrast to the old ERP monolith days, where every supplier had to support a point-to-point connection with every distributor, and every distributor had to support a point-to-point contact with every supplier.

End-to-End and Real-Time Logistics

To successfully represent the complete logistics lifecycle across a network of supply chain participants (warehouses, plants, DC’s, carriers, LSP, customers, contract manufacturers, and suppliers), the One Network platform serves as a system of engagement, integrating and harmonizing data across internal and external players. It also operates with the capability to embrace many systems and to assume control of any point in the shipment execution lifecycle as needed, even serving to replace legacy or redundant systems. By integrating transaction information across all parties, the solution enables real time visibility of the entire logistics lifecycle from purchase order to shipment order, shipment execution, track and trace, and to financial settlement.

Real-Time Information with IoT and Telematics

One Network is a unified platform that combines the power of telematics with planning and execution to provide global visibility, quality tracking, and optimized decision making. One Network’s Telematics Solution captures, analyzes, and consumes real-time streaming data from GPS, IoT devices, sensors, and electronic data logging devices (ELD) embedded in containers and vehicles, across vessels, trucks, airplanes, and warehouses. It provides real-time status and locations of orders and shipments, predicted future locations, and accurate arrival times.

A multiparty network provides a unified unified platform for planning and execution, optimal decision-making, and full visibility across trading partners, including real-time information on locations of orders, shipments, and ETAs. Click To Tweet

It also provides advanced monitoring for temperature of the product and container, and logistics parameters such as door openings. In addition, the platform’s intelligent NEO agents consider factors, such as speed, traffic, storage capacity, and delivery times to optimize logistics and the supply chain. The platform also alerts users to potential problems with predictive analytics and proposes optimal solutions using prescriptive analytics as well.

Have a System of Record for Tracking Compliance and Identifying/Reporting Violations

Whether verifying compliance or spotting and reporting an exception, a reliable network-based global system of record creates enormous efficiencies when compared with the alternative – which is fragmented, partial, and maybe manual systems and processes. When the system of record is a multiparty business network platform like One Network, then all stakeholders – manufacturers, distributors, carriers, customers and hospitals can be sure they are looking at the same real-time, accurate information.

Best of all, these capabilities are an integral part of the NEO platform, which is your TMS, planning, and execution system. So once an exception is spotted, it can be resolved and a solution implemented immediately in the same platform.

Quickly Get to the Root Cause of Quality Issues

When an issue does arise, traceability enables you to quickly pinpoint the source, whether it’s a manufacturing or packaging issue, or the violation of a temperature specification for a vaccine. Rather than relying on a patchwork of systems or manual processes, a network platform enables rapid root cause analysis based on accurate, up-to-date information that is visible and consistent for all involved parties.

Respond Quickly and Optimally to Spikes in Demand or Disruptions in Supply

Reality will certainly differ from your plans, so when you experience demand spikes or supply upsets, companies will need to have a rapid, optimized response in the near term. A real-time network platform offers your best solution with Global Supply-Demand Matching and process orchestration across business partners with dynamic reallocation. When problems happen, the network enables you to identify supply chain exceptions in real time and resolve them optimally at the network level with intelligent algorithms and the latest in artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, to provide automated decision-making and prescriptive analytics.

A real-time network platform can provide Global Supply-Demand Matching, to dynamically reallocate supply across nodes and business partners, as demand shifts. Click To Tweet

With One Network, shipment visibility goes much deeper than basic transportation visibility and includes visibility into every order that makes up the shipment. And the inventory that makes up the shipment (even in the container) can be used for dynamic decision-making in real time and is available for dynamic reallocation to orders – just like any other inventory quantity in your warehouses, plants, or healthcare provider locations. This explains why One Network helps optimize business performance with automation and prescriptive analytics in ways that others can’t – to drive extraordinary service levels and value.

Crisis Management: Handle Recalls Quickly, Accurately, Efficiently, Specifically

Over the last 20 months alone, the U.S. FDA is reporting and tracking nearly 1000 product recalls across sectors. With the stringent temperature requirements of the vaccines in development, and the record-shattering volumes to doses to be delivered worldwide, there’s a good chance that manufacturers will need to face the reality of a recall at some point. Today global enterprises know that when it comes to a product problem and a necessary product recall, they need to:

  • Act immediately with great transparency
  • Rapidly identify the scope of the problem
  • Exactly locate the specific product lots and impacted locations and consumers
  • Initiate the recall and execute the recall logistics
  • Identify the source of the problem and fix it.
  • Instill confidence in their marketplace and consumers

To do this all this effectively, we need more control over our supply network, with network-based technology that tracks the full chain-of-custody for every item from start to finish, providing visibility into our supply chains with a way to effectively track products, intermediates, and raw materials in real time, from their source, across trading partners, and to the end consumer. 

Accurate, real time inventory visibility is essential – in warehouses, DCs, intransit and at every node in the cold chain. By rapidly extracting only the affected product in a recall, and only at the precise locations in the supply chain, companies can minimize the impact on consumers, preserve their reputations, and minimize costs. Companies also need know exactly what and how much product needs to be replaced in order to resupply affected locations more quickly for minimum business impact.

Understand and Verify Sources and Origins

Today government regulators, vaccine providers, and the public in general will want to have confidence in the origins of the vaccines and medicines they are receiving, that it’s authentic, where it came from, and who made it – and they will want us to prove it. As we’ve seen, using a multiparty network, Chain-of-Custody for items, shipments, and origins can be completely tracked, so that all approved sources of raw materials, intermediates and finished products, as well as all their paths through the supply chain network, are 100% verifiable and auditable.

Today it is no longer enough to stamp the country of origin on the packaging. You must be able to verify the origin, track the journey and prove the authenticity of the product. Click To Tweet

For general consumer products, this is important to many consumers in understanding environmental impacts or addressing child labor concerns, for example, but takes on life-saving significance where counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a concern, as for some regions in Africa. And of course, in the case of medical products like vaccines or foods that must be maintained at safe temperatures to prevent spoilage or degradation during their journey thru the supply network.

Networks for the Cold Chain and Beyond

Networks are not just ideally suited to solving the challenge of the vaccine cold chain. One Network’s Cold Chain Solution is part of a comprehensive set of tightly integrated end-to-end capabilities that work together intelligently and run in the cloud, serving tens of thousands of companies, across a variety of industries worldwide.

The platform is designed around the fact that supply chain planning and execution are inherently multi-tier and multi-enterprise, whether it be inventory optimization, demand propagation, inbound supply planning, forecasting, order fulfillment, global demand-supply match or global ATP. This perspective forms the foundation that enables One Network’s customers to achieve the highest possible service levels with the highest quality product delivered at the lowest possible cost. Even via the Cold Chain.

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Diane Reynolds
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