If last year was challenging, 2021 does not promise to be less so for various economic sectors, including the logistics of medicines and medical devices.
The industry is going through a decade of major transformation, accelerated by the health crisis and the emergence of disruptive technologies.
New distribution and service models, the rise of e-commerce, the emergence of innovative treatments (biopharmacy, cell therapy and personalized medicine) and the entry or merger of new digital health firms are part of the challenging panorama that logistics will face during 2021.
What will be those trends that will set the tone for the new period? Let’s review some of the main ones.
The automation of processes will continue to be key in the logistics of this industry, both due to regulations, which require optimal traceability and inventory control, and due to special storage conditions, quality or the distribution model.
The use of technology allows reducing costs, improving the performance of equipment and personnel and, most importantly, providing added value to the customer, through accurate and real-time information of the available merchandise.
These technologies are useful for better process control, simulation models and predictions on consumption trends, selection of efficient transport routes, among other applications.
In Health Sciences logistics, product integrity is everything. Maintaining, controlling and monitoring the temperature of the products is essential.
We have seen it recently with the vaccine against covid-19, the transport of which has represented a great logistical challenge – Pfizer’s requires a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius -.
As a result, technology has become an ally in safeguarding the cold chain. For example, the blockchain or chain of blocks offers many advantages for an adequate traceability of the chain, allowing to trace from the origin to the final destination.
The same can be said of dataloggers, special coolers, gel packs or GPS, which favor maintaining the visibility of the cold chain in each of the links in the supply chain.
One of the important aspects in the supply chain is picking or order preparation. This year stands the opportunity to seek methods to increase automation in this part of the process.
In the midst of the rise of e-commerce –which adds additional complexity- carrying out picking tasks with technological means would allow an increase in the pace of preparation and minimize errors.
With the technological component comes the environmental one, another of the pillars that will be a trend in Health Sciences logistics in 2021.
Changes in regulations on medicines and medical devices, the impact of the cold chain on carbon emissions and greater ecological awareness, are the responsibles for the emergence of the concept of green logistics.
Nowdays, companies are more concerned with reducing air, soil and water pollution caused by their logistics activities.
We are increasingly hearing about the use of electric or hybrid vehicles, raw materials obtained under sustainable processes, biodegradable packaging or less polluting cold equipment.
The eco-friendly infrastructure is also part of the actions to promote green logistics. Buildings with solar panels, smart taps or automatic lights, are some ways to reduce energy and water consumption, in order to achieve high performance in the supply chain.
In 2021 the organizational culture and the human factor – which will always be necessary – within logistics companies cannot be set aside.
The market will enter a phase that demands more digital and multidisciplinary professionals, capable of adapting to new situations with greater agility and flexibility.
The redistribution of tasks and renewal of processes are intended to eliminate or automate routine activities that consume time and resources of employees, and that do not allow them to exploit their potential to 100 percent.
The priority this year will be, not only to take care of people, but to enhance their skills, and put them at the service of a flexible and adaptable logistics to changes.
We conclude with the recount of the main trends in logistics in the Health Sciences industry for 2021. All of them envision a year full of new challenges, lessons and opportunities.
If you need more information about these and other trends, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be delighted to help you navigate the challenges of a challenging yet promising year for the global logistics industry.