With the world still facing the impacts of rising cyberattacks, COVID-19, and international trade tensions, supply chain disruptions are a common occurrence. As these delays continue globally, pharmaceutical companies have been forced to work around site closures, sourcing issues, and general product delays. Luckily, there are a few ways your company can work to avoid the effects of these slowdowns internally. In this article we’ll discuss the current state of the pharma supply chain and outline four tips to help you smooth out your own supply chain slowdowns.
The Current State of the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain
As with most industries, the biggest factor influencing the current pharmaceutical supply chain is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pharma supply chain is known for being multifaceted and far reaching. With the international implications brought upon by the novel coronavirus, pharma professionals have been forced to face the weaknesses found in a supply chain that’s so complex. Here are some of the most pressing issues causing the current slowdowns.
How Can Your Company Overcome Pharma Supply Chain Delays?
With the primary causes of supply chain delay outlined, let’s look at four ways your company can work to overcome and prevent slowdowns.
1. Expand your network of suppliers and reduce risk
As mentioned in the above graphic, relying on a single supplier or multiple suppliers concentrated in the same place can be a vulnerability. With only one sourcing option, if your supplier falls behind schedule or runs into a major bottleneck your production line comes to a complete halt. To mitigate this risk, consider qualifying supplier backups who are spread across multiple locations that you can use as an alternative option if your original supplier happens to run into any delays.
Additionally, to avoid the negative effects of supply delays, your company should organize just-in-time and just-in-case inventory levels. For materials that allow it, order ahead and keep a reasonably sized stockpile so you never run out if all your suppliers fall behind. With advancing technology, many companies are experimenting with systems that allow quick supplier changes and advanced predictive analytics that help them keep track and determine how much product they should be regularly ordering.
2. Increase supply chain transparency
Giving your company a transparent supply chain process is essential for reducing the risk of supply chain delays. According to a report by the Business Continuity Institute, 72% of suppliers who have dealt with an interruption in their supply chains have lacked the full visibility needed to come up with an efficient solution. Having a full view and understanding of what’s happening throughout every component of your supply chain will help you predict future issues and mitigate problems more quickly and effectively.
One way to create more transparency is with a supplier portal. These portals are platforms that allow businesses to connect and collaborate with their third-party suppliers through a secure database. Suppliers can use the portal to keep track of their business relationship, locate the latest version of important business documents or specifications, and be part of the approval workflow. The company operating the portal can track the same data across multiple suppliers and identify which supplier is utilized for creating which components in a matter of seconds. You’ll be able to check that your processes are running smoothly, your supplies will arrive on time, and you have the correct amount of necessary raw materials for future shipments.
3. Perform risk assessments
Performing a risk assessment that specifically focuses on supply chain issues is a great way to patch up any potential holes in your processes that may cause future slowdowns. List potential difficulties, perform internal audits, and keep your organization aware of the types of errors your company needs to avoid to reduce production risk. These risk assessments should be routinely updated, keeping in mind that potential hazards are constantly changing. If you can identify the parts of your supply chain that are more permeable to outside threats, you can prioritize strengthening these areas and preventing slowdowns before they happen.
4. Utilize advanced technology
Taking advantage of advanced technology and digitization opportunities is another important mitigating factor when facing potential supply chain delays. With tech like Artificial Intelligence (AI), you can not only collect important data from your supply chain processes, but to also learn from this information over time. This means that the longer your AI runs, the better it will learn to prepare for possible delays in the supply process, better meet customer needs, and to allocate resources more efficiently. So, your company can go from working in response to issues to preparing proactively. Even further, because you’ll have the ability to analyze data from multiple sources, your supply chain manager can ensure complete visibility throughout your processes.
In addition to AI, automating your supply chain and business processes using software like a Document Management (DMS) and Specification Management System (SMS) can increase your speed to market and save your company time that you may have lost during potential supplier delays. By automating the workflow of key business processes, you can increase process efficiency and significantly reduce the time and resources needed for regulatory compliance activities. When you implement a DMS, employees no longer have to complete tedious, time-consuming tasks and the frustrations of not being able to find information quickly disappear.
With the effects of COVID-19 still wreaking havoc on the pharmaceutical supply chain, it’s important to strengthen your company’s processes to avoid the effects of possible delays. By focusing on pharmaceutical quality assurance with routine risk assessments, expanding your supplier network, increasing supply chain transparency, and utilizing advanced technology, your company will not only avoid the effects, but also increase your internal efficiency throughout every aspect of your production line.
If you are looking for a system to help you avoid delays in your pharmaceutical supply chain, DocXellent can help. We are glad to advise you on how you can accomplish your goals and demonstrate how our document control and specification management software, ENSUR, can maximize your company’s efficiency. Contact us today.