Pharmaceutical Commerce - July/August 2017 - 20
Looking ahead in life sciences and healthcare logistics
New DHL report sees transformational trends
While R&D scientists and medical researchers are
blazing new trails into areas like cellular therapy and
genomics, the folks managing life sciences and healthcare
supply chains are dealing with their own revolutions
in patient care, new forms of drug delivery and new
regulatory systems. Some of this thinking shows up in a
new report from DHL, whose Life Sciences and Healthcare
unit is the leading provider of global logistics services to
the sector. There are six trends it highlights, and while the
data behind the trend reporting is somewhat subjective,
these trends should give pharma supply chain managers
some guidance on what to expect from their logistics
functions. The six are:
1. Advancing data analytics (Big Data). By linking
patient data across a spectrum of services, healthcare
providers will be better able to predict demand and manage
inventories. Big data tools are also helping to de-risk logistics
2. Increasing visibility through connectivity (Internet
of Things). IoT technology is impacting materials
management within health systems, and to monitor pharma
shipments in transit and either respond to temperature and
other environmental factors, or to minimize the introduction
of counterfeit products.
3. Healthcare on demand (On-Demand Delivery).
"On demand," by DHL's thinking, includes the trend toward
home-based patient care, with online pharmacies, point-ofcare diagnostics and remote monitoring impacting healthcare
4. Automating for speed and accuracy (Robotics and
Automation). One effect of better and cheaper robotics is
their increased use in logistics processes, such as packing
shipments or managing warehouse inventories. DHL itself is
investing in robotics at a variety of locations; in one intriguing
instance, a robot handles a packaging and labeling function
for tailoring injection pens to local markets, where demand
is unpredictable. The result: lower inventories throughout the
supply chain, and better demand management.
5. Increasing efficiency with Augmented Reality.
Another technology that, for DHL, could impact warehouse
operations: DHL is experimenting with using augmented
reality (data viewed through a small screen) to improve pickand-pack operations.
6. Leveraging Additive Manufacturing. Additive
manufacturing scored one key breakthrough in 2016 when
a 3D-printed drug was approved by FDA. In the near future,
additive manufacturing will streamline production and
inventory of medical devices (constructed to meet ongoing
demand); it could also impact traditional batch manufacturing
of pharma products.
In announcing the report, Scott Allison, president,
life sciences and healthcare, DHL Customer Solutions &
Innovation, said, "We are only just beginning to understand
the huge changes the Life Sciences sector is facing in
terms of how patients are diagnosed and treated, what
new care challenges it faces, and the technology-driven
tools to address them. DHL's new report focuses on the
transformation in the way medical products and services are
produced, distributed and consumed. It is clear that logistic
providers have a key role to play in this transformation to
deliver healthcare to the world with cost-effective, agile and
highly responsive supply chains."
The report, The Future of Life Sciences and Healthcare
Logistics, is downloadable at www.dhl.com/futurelsh.
Construction starts on a Pfizer
biopharma plant near St. Louis
Completion scheduled for 2019
Biologics (including biosimilars),
vaccines, and gene therapy scale-up and
manufacturing processes will be the goals
of the BioTherapeutics Pharmaceutical
Sciences facility, with groundbreaking having
occurred at a location in Chesterfield, MO.
The 295,000-sq. ft. facility will include
state-of-the-art analytical capabilities, says
the company; therapeutic targets include
oncology, rare diseases, internal medicine,
inflammation and immunology.
While far from the biotech centers on the
US coasts, Pfizer notes that it has a 15-year
history of working in the St. Louis, MO
area. About 450 Pfizer employees working
in various locations in the area will come
together at the new site, and an additional 80
are expected to be hired "in coming years."
The capital investment figure was not
included in the news release; however, Pfizer
noted that as part of a "strategic incentives"
program of financial support from the state
and St. Louis County, Pfizer is donating
$20,000 to a local school district.
Artist rendering of the new Chesterfield site.
DHL opens a cold-chain center of excellence in Ireland
40,000-sq. ft. facility is near Dublin Airport
Ireland becomes the 43rd country
in which DHL has opened what it calls
its Life Sciences Centers of Excellence,
essentially warehousing and logistics
fa cilit ies, along w ith the ne cessar y
training and documentation of good
distribution practices (GDPs) for handling
pharmaceutical shipments. The allnew facility has 3,700 sq. m. (40,000 sq.
ft.) of capacity, segregated into different
temperature regimes: ambient (15-25°);
chilled (2-8°) and a blast & holding freezer
capable of temperatures of -20°C. Service
capabilities include storage, pick & pack,
20 Visit our website at www.PharmaceuticalCommerce.com July | August 2017
and inventory control. Plans are in place to
extend the service across the temperature
regimes and provide value-added repack
and postponement services. The new DHL
logistics center is expected to create up to
50 jobs over the coming months. Through
its proximity to the Dublin Airport, it
will have "full access and integration with
DHL's temperature-controlled transport
services by Road, Air, Ocean and Express,"
according to the company.