The pharmaceutical industry has been growing steadily throughout the 2000s, rising to sales that hit nearly a trillion dollars. That, coupled with the fact that the United States alone represents over 45 percent of the global market, stresses the immense importance U.S. pharmaceutical companies must place on dependable logistics management to maintain their position in this ultra-competitive environment. Hospitals, primary care physicians, urgent care facilities, pharmacies, and many other healthcare establishments rely on medicines being readily available in order to care for their patients. The accessibility of these medicines can come during critical life or death situations, and without a consistent and trustworthy logistics partner, the pharmaceutical industry and the people that depend on obtaining the proper treatments would suffer.
Regulation and compliance standards strictly govern the industry and, fulfilling these requirements can place a demanding strain on pharmaceutical companies. In addition to being compliant and consistently growing the bottom-line, establishing an efficient and consistent supply chain network can prove difficult to master. Implementing processes, coordinating transportation, and training personnel to ensure streamlined logistics takes meaningful time, discipline, knowledge, and resources, all of which might be better focused on your core competency of growing your business. It becomes apparent that outsourcing these functions to a third-party logistics partner is essential to continued success, because pharmaceutical company management and personnel don’t always have time to evaluate, educate and troubleshoot, they need reliable results.
Before leaping into a new business relationship, it is important to consider a variety of factors, many of which are specific to the pharmaceutical industry. When vetting potential logistics companies, look for these characteristics in their level of service:
Consistent and Reliable Transportation
The primary goal of any logistics company is the on-time delivery of products. Simple as that. Supply chain should be managed as a complete end-to-end solution. Logistics companies that operate in silos often cause avoidable mistakes, misdirected efforts and, ultimately, excessive late shipments and fulfillment errors. Without consistent and reliable operations to take products from A to B, pharmaceutical businesses fall behind their competitors.
Trusted Experience and Proactive Best Practices
Having a logistics partner that has strong experience in the field is paramount. An experienced partner will understand, for example, the importance of temperature controlled environments and the use of seals, locks, straps, stacking and other methods to prevent product damage and/or loss. Lastly, customer service should be available 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, to guarantee any issue, no matter how big or small, is addressed promptly and reliably – there is no margin for error for guesswork.
With the importance placed on protecting the proprietary knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry, certain measures should be taken to ensure shipment safety. GPS monitoring to preserve the integrity and timeliness of routes, random security audits of vehicles and facilities, tote rotation, variable routes, warehouse video surveillance and overnight cage storage are all best practices of elite logistics partners. Expert logistics companies will seamlessly integrate their staff with your own, and provide complete transparency into the handling and receiving of goods from when the cargo is picked up until it is delivered.
What separates the adequate from the elite in the logistics industry is discipline. Innovation is the engine that drives increased discipline and efficiency, reduces costs, and generates a competitive advantage. There are analytical tools available to logistics companies that provide insights to shipment and delivery data. This is a great place to start. Look for partners that have adopted technology which breaks down the entire transportation process, and seeks to identify areas in which the process could be enhanced.
In addition to the key features we’ve mentioned above, there are other elements to evaluate when making the decision to bring on a third-party logistics partner. Reduced transportation and warehousing costs, reliable and/or more favorable delivery times and supply-chain visibility, and access to new markets all come top of mind. Bring on a reliable service provider that you can trust. Contact us today to find out how we can service your pharmaceutical and healthcare transportation needs.