Why Pharmaceutical Supply Chains Demand End-to-End Visibility & How They Can Get It

August 11, 2021

July 2, 2024


x min read

Pharmaceutical supply chains underscore the importance of temperature-controlled shipping and the need for real-time end-to-end visibility. Temperature deviations of even a single degree or two beyond the acceptable range during transit could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses with a single shipment — and millions over the course of a year.  With stakes this high, pharma shipments must arrive on time and in full. Making that happen takes a highly synchronized collaboration among all partners in a supply chain. Logistics service providers, shippers, and carriers in all modes of transportation need real-time status updates and alerts to proactively mitigate potential disruptions. As a leading provider of state-of-the-art shipment trackers,software, and services Tive makes it easy to align all stakeholders in pharmaceutical supply chains to eliminate preventable delays and damage.

The Power of End-to-End Visibility

From the time items are picked, packed, and shipped until they arrive at the intended destination, that shipment can tell a story along every step of the journey. Where is it? Is it wet? Are there any shock events happening? Has it been exposed to light? Knowing these answers in real time empowers supply chain professionals to take swift proactive action when there is a threat of disruption or as soon as an issue occurs. In the event something does not go as planned, real-time visibility and alerts make it possible to coordinate other shipments or inventory moves to keep customers happy.

In pharmaceutical supply chains, real-time tracking of temperature is a top priority. Pharma ships at various ranges, including ambient (+15-25C), refrigerated (+2-8C) or frozen (-20C). Any temperature excursion — that is, any temperature reading that falls beyond the recommended range for the product, as defined in the manufacturer — could render the shipment unusable and result in significant financial losses. The QVIA Institute for Human Data Science estimates that the biopharma industry loses $34 billion annually because of temperature-control failures across their supply chain. Furthermore, investigating the root cause of each temperature excursion costs between $3,000-$10,000, according to an article in SDCExecutive. Having access to track-and-trace capabilities and real-time visibility and alerts will eliminate such costly expenditures.

“By combining real-time environmental data with insights into transit times and predictive ETAs, we are able to create a more accurate, timely, and holistic picture of the supply chain than ever before,” Priya Rajagopalan, Chief Product Officer for Fourkites, wrote in a recent article for Supply Chain 24/7.

Tive partners with Fourkites and other visibility providers as part of the Open Visibility Network. Our trackers and software help provide logistics providers, shippers, and carriers alike with end-to-end visibility and in-depth insights that mitigate risks and drive improvements throughout pharmaceutical supply chains.   

How Trackers & Software Improve Pharmaceutical Supply Chains

In some industries, it is often acceptable for shipments to fall out of the recommended temperature range for short periods of time. That is not the case in pharmaceutical supply chains. This realm requires strict adherence to specific temperature ranges that can vary by shipment, pallet, or SKU. And merely monitoring temperatures is not enough. Stakeholders need to know immediately when a shipment is about to breach the acceptable range. Creating real-time alerts and end-to-end visibility through a robust mix of state-of-the-art trackers and software provides the level insight needed to significantly reduce temperature excursions.

The sensors on Tive trackers and beacons monitor product conditions, movement, and transaction handoffs in real time. The benefits of Tive trackers include:

  • Gather real-time data for temperature, humidity, shock, motion, and light.
  • Convenience of single-use or multi-use trackers
  • Can be used in environments of -20°C to 60°C, with an accuracy of +/0.5°C.
  •  2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, and 5G shipment trackers integrate with cloud-based monitoring software.
  • Flexibility of GPS/WiFi/Cellular connectivity. 

Tive’s cloud-based platform provides access to shipments from anywhere, in real time, on any device. Setting custom alert profiles on each shipment enables precise monitoring and tight communication protocols. Plus, Tive offers a robust API that enables the seamless flow of data in and out of customers’ supply chain management or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It is the best way to capture any shipment’s full journey.

Real-Time Alerts & Visibility in Action

Optimize Courier was using Tive trackers on behalf of one of its pharma customers that had a shipment that needed to stay within the ambient (+15-25C) temperature range while en route from Raleigh-[1]Durham, N.C. to Memphis, Tenn. While en route, Tive sent an alert to Optimize because the package had rapidly dropped beyond the acceptable range. Optimize investigated immediately and learned airline personnel had mistakenly placed the package in a cooler. This real-time notification prevented the company from losing $500,000 worth of goods and saved the shipment. Read the entire case study here.

Mitigate Temperature Excursions & Achieve Optimization

Tive trackers and software help customers truly understand what’s happening along every step in their pharmaceuticals supply chain. Avoiding and managing temperature excursions is paramount. That data can also then be used to analyze trends, determine root causes of problems, and optimize a pharmaceuticals supply chain from start to finish. To learn more, schedule a demo with Tive today.

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