Supply Chain Digitization is Vital to the Future of COVID-19 Vaccinations

By Jill Kurpershoek

Supply Chain Digitization is Vital to the Future of COVID-19 Vaccinations

  • November 6, 2020

Supply Chain Digitization is Vital to the Future of COVID-19 Vaccinations

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Welcome to the age of information, where you can access your entire supply chain at the touch of a button, every asset has a digital twin, and the fate of the COVID-19 vaccine depends on how well we manage our specifications. 

COVID-19 and the Supply Chain

In the average supply chain, there’s a lot to consider. There’s environmental factors such as humidity, transportation factors like shock and vibration, and a ton of communication that goes into safely getting a product from one touchpoint to the next. 

The vaccine supply chain, a part of the cold chain category, must adhere to very stringent standards in order to successfully deliver products. And with experimental COVID-19 vaccination trials getting ready to distribute product, the cold chain is about to experience a major influx of shipments.

How Supply Chain Traceability Will Play a Huge Role in the Pandemic

Typically, product loss in the cold chain is a given and amounts to about $34 billion annually. However, the current stress on the healthcare system is greater than ever before, and professionals aren’t sure that it can take a $34 billion hit.

Luckily, we already have the data we need to effectively oversee cold chain activities. 

Thanks to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we can attach temperature sensors and accelerometers to every batch of vaccines that send real-time updates and alerts when conditions move from the target range.

Sounds pretty seamless, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

The main problem supply chain professionals are facing is finding a way to manage cold chain data to ensure product efficacy. Due to the high stakes, cold chain data must be quickly accessible. But the fact of the matter is, many companies are managing these critical standards with excel or PDFs.

For cold chain stakeholders, the primary enemy is time, and spreadsheets are only exacerbating the problem. In the amount of time it takes to transport a new batch of vaccines, test the temperature range, search for the spreadsheet or legacy system that batch is housed in and update it, data has likely already changed and more vaccines have been lost. 

We’ve had our qualms with spreadsheets and siloed information before, but now public health is at stake, and we can no longer afford to use poor data management processes.

Using Traceability to Ensure Vaccine Quality

The cold chain needs extreme monitoring, as lost vaccines are essentially a quality management problem. However, we see it in nearly every industry: the current approach to quality management is broken.

Before tech-enabled traceability and Specification Management, quality professionals often didn’t realize they had a problem until it was too late, resulting in recalls, incorrect orders, and waste. Although these results aren’t uncommon, there’s a lot riding on a successful vaccination.

Specification Management: Paving the Way for Supply Chain Traceability

With Specification Management, you can catch and prevent issues early on so you’re always moving the needle in the right direction. This way, you can protect your ROI and bottom line – or save lives – in the case of COVID-19.

It all starts by digitizing and mapping crucial data from all supply chain touchpoints. With detailed data and linkages, you gain visibility into exactly where your product is and what it’s experiencing. 

Layer on analytics, automate key data inputs, and instantly communicate with stakeholders to spot and resolve issues quickly. Digital supply chains are built to mitigate risks and predict disruptions, and successful vaccinations are relying on how we leverage this information.

Want to learn more about SDM and supply chain traceability? Download our eBook or reach out to a member of our team.

Published on: Friday, November 6, 2020

Last Updated on:Friday, November 13, 2020