The Process Innovation

The second wave of pandemic in India has resulted in Lockdown and restrictions in most parts of the country. Panic buying and sudden surge in demand for immunity based products and ready to eat products lead to supply issues. More importantly, Items like Oximeters, disinfectants, and masks are in the list as well. A sudden surge in medical oxygen requirement of 76 % in 10 days from 3,842 MT on April 12 to 6,785 MT on April 22, Oxygen shortage made its way throughout India which created havoc in the health care system and the lives. Nevertheless, all possible avenues have been used by the Government through diverting the industry oxygen, using nitrogen, argon tanks for carrying oxygen and all possible modes of transport to manage the situations.

How does Process Innovation add value to any supply chain?
What are we learning out of these status quo and how does one need to be proactive to overcome issues in future? Process innovation, perhaps one of the essential solutions which will not let us fail in the future is an enhanced way of doing things across the entire supply chain through best management practices, cost management, quality improvement and Services.
Pandemics made the global supply chain to rethink the way of doing business and supplier networks from China. Relocating a production line or setting up a new one will provide an opportunity to redesign the entire process by incorporating best management practices and better utilisation of resources.

Does technology have a role to play in supply chain?
New technologies already or soon will allow companies to lower their costs to compete with incumbent competitors or suppliers. As the cost of automation declines and people see that robots can operate safely along humans and also replace humans in dirty, dull and dangerous tasks. The pandemic situation has made automation even more essential as there is a need for social distancing in factories. New processing technologies in the chemical industries use less energy and resources, low wastage, make it less capital-intensive, and is reduce operational cost. Continuous-flow manufacturing, an innovation in the supply chain, could significantly increase the flexibility for small-molecule generic drugs by making producers less dependent on imported active pharmaceutical ingredients. Additive manufacturing, a technique of 3D printing, has dramatically reduced the number of steps required to make complex metal shapes and made it possible to produce an array of items in much higher quantities economically.

The Pharmacy Automation for Clinical Efficiency (PACE) platform is a digitally-enabled (software and hardware) automated line, designed to meet orders for multiple products, packaging and labelling drugs in the same facility without cross-contamination. Fundamentally a conveyor belt with robots rapidly filling, sealing, cataloguing and dispensing bottles of medicine with the software infrastructure to then release the products. An additional aspect is that the PACE platform seems to have the potential to connect the manufacturing data train (from PACE) to Internet of Things (IoT) devices. “Smart” labels like Quick Response (QR) codes and Near-Field-Communication (NFC) reduce waste and cost in pharmaceutical supply chains. It also monitors the location and the environmental conditions that stock is exposed to, which has the potential to affect drug efficacy specially the products’ temperature and moisture.

Continuous direct compression (CDC) platform that will enable oral solid dosage medicines to be formulated more easily and allows for more efficient use of time and expensive materials due to the flow of production without interruption. Modern technology and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered contract lifecycle management (CLM) software allows freight companies to continuously track shipments and manage millions of deliveries.

Does Process Innovation to get rid of Black Swan?
Process innovation at each level of product development, production, order fulfilment, store operations and at the service level along with Information systems, digital technologies, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) tools leads to enhancing supply chain efficiency, obtaining real-time data and creating AI models, optimizing deliveries, and reducing waiting time for production and to services.

These insights provide a stepping stone to develop our oxygen supply chain in India by studying on the three key areas; the capacity of the market to supply oxygen therapy equipment to support the COVID-19 response efforts; the capacity of organizations to increase its manufacturing capacity; studying the manufacturing and distribution bottlenecks the organisations face to meet the India’s demand.

To successfully execute the vaccine supply chain, the organizations involved must constantly manage a high volume of contracts which allow suppliers to cross-reference live location data with the contract’s conditions to ensure that vaccine deliveries remain on track. Also, digital contracts clarify financial liability if the shipments get behind schedule. It seamlessly integrates with logistics software, which is necessary to track the thousands of different COVID-19 supplier and freight service contracts like western countries. Currently, for Pfizer’s and Moderna’s supply chains, freight companies train an AI model to search for supply chain risks in existing vendor contracts to help anticipate delays and issues with trucks’ cold chain maintenance.

Prioritising the Oxygen and Vaccine supply chain process with the right resources, effective use of technology and tools which are available with us and adopting the successful predictive models are the need of the hour to get rid of the Black Swan effectively.

– Dr. K.G.Hemalatha


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