January 7, 2020

What the Food Industry Can Learn from Pharmaceutical Distribution Chains

Pharmaceutical cold chains parallel the temperature-controlled food industry in many ways. Even though they are considered separate industries, food supply chain managers can take several cues from its pharmaceutical brethren and vice versa. Current regulations tend to confuse and blur the lines between these industries, which has resulted in complex legislation that doesn’t account for specific needs.

There are several benefits associated with preventing temperature excursions by using data logging, circumstance monitoring, and analysis. Enacting solutions, such as these, is becoming necessary as both industries develop.

In this blog post, the Logmore team address the regulations related to pharmaceutical logistics, how the industry has accommodated them, and what the similarly regulated food industry could learn from it.

Parallels between pharmaceutical and food supply chains

As the complexity of global supply chains rises, so do the needs for logistics companies to monitor their temperatures when transporting food and medicine accurately. Since pharmaceutical companies have sustained massive growth over the last several years, food supply chain managers are beginning to watch what their pharmaceutical counterparts are up to when it comes to implementing best practices.

The two industries are similar in that they follow strict temperature thresholds that cannot be forgone during packing, loading, transportation, and unloading. Keeping temperatures for both industries is essential to public safety and strengthening public policy.

Background on current cold chain regulations

From a purely historical standpoint, the pharmaceutical industry has been heavily regulated and subject to meeting compliance requirements. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are also required to work with industry-approved and standardized shippers when transporting medicine and life science products. Industry players tend to look toward guidance from the International Safe Transit Association and the World Health Organization.

The United States currently follows directives under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, while Europe operates under the Falsified Medicine’s Directive (FMD). These legislative initiatives emphasize the importance of safe transport and best practices when it comes to pharmaceuticals. Developers of data logging, circumstance monitoring, and analysis solutions help their customers by deploying technologies that align with these directives.

Food supply chains are not subject to the same stringent regulations, although that is not to say they are left to play by their own rules. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US sets standards and implements rules that govern how food products should be transported. However, the regulations are lacking in the face of increased scrutiny, which means that food transportation companies have a lot to learn from pharmaceutical transportation practices.

What the food industry can learn from pharmaceutical companies

The prevention of temperature excursions is a critical objective for pharmaceutical and food supply chain companies alike. Food supply chain managers must evaluate packaging, optimization, contractors, and technology to help them elevate their program’s efficacy.

Here are the ways in which food suppliers can benefit by watching the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Cost efficiencies: Spoilage is a significant element in determining the cost-efficiency of a supply chain. It is for this reason that pharmaceutical companies regularly monitor their temperature-controlled items like clockwork. Not only does it reduce costs, but it becomes a differentiator among competitors when they utilize technology solutions specifically developed for their industry.
  • Improved quality: The importance of quality control is parallel for both industries. However, supply chain managers may be reluctant to proactively stay on top of this strategy as critical issues come up in other areas. The idea that “good enough” is no longer good enough keeps coming to the forefront of conversation in this regard.
  • Continued improvement: By deploying systems that align with customer needs while facilitating regulatory requirements, managers now have more time to focus on improvements. A system that can provide data logging, circumstance monitoring, and analysis reveals blind spots for which they were not previously aware.
  • Innovation: Statistics show that pharmaceutical companies invest nearly 20 per cent of their annual revenue on research and development (R&D). And for a good reason, too. With the advent of technology, the digitizing of supply chains is helping them innovate and revolutionize how supply chains are managing their products when compared to the past.

As you can see, there are several cues that the food industry can take from its pharmacological counterparts. While their industries may differ in many ways, the food industry can benefit tremendously from the associated techniques and strategies that the pharmaceutical supplies in the form of labour and cost-saving tactics. Valuing compliance, standardization, temperature controls, and cost-management is the best way to accomplish this goal.

How data logging improves cold chain logistics for the food industry

Data logging has been a long-deployed source of control for the pharmaceutical company. Technological advances are moving toward accommodating food manufacturers and logistics companies.

There are several benefits associated with data logging, including:

  • The ability to capture and store data
  • Automation through specific devices
  • Enhanced capabilities with tracking
  • Security sensors to prevent tampering
  • Packaging the controls temperature monitoring

The importance and efficacies of data logging should not be overlooked since the tools available can meet your regulatory and service needs. It is also essential that the rise of technology in cold chain logistics is going to become a requirement and not an option, which means that companies will be opened up to greater scrutiny and potential liability claims.

Final thoughts and considerations

Both the pharmaceutical and food supplies industries can teach each other a lot when it comes to more-efficient methods of managing their products. Data logging, circumstance monitoring, and analysis are excellent solutions that are appropriate for either industry. When deployed using a comprehensive digital solution, they can both benefit by providing enhanced safety and customer service protocols.

If you found this article to help you understand how to manage your temperature-controlled supply chain better, we recommend related posts on our blog, including The Importance of Cold Chain Logistics for the Healthcare Industry and The Importance of Data Logging for Online Pharmacy Processes. These resources can provide greater clarity based on this article.

Are you ready to start learning more about how data logging, circumstance monitoring, and analysis can elevate your results? The Logmore team would love to hear from you.

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