2022 will be the year of digitalisation and sustainability: Global Pharma Logistics Summit 2021

Global Pharma Logistics Summit 2021 concluded with a rich and insightful discussion on pharma, logistics and supply chain. The summit had some interesting panelists, experts from the air freight and pharma industry.

2022 will be the year of digitalisation and sustainability: Global Pharma Logistics Summit 2021

The Global Pharma Logistics Summit 2021 in Mumbai concluded on an enthusiastic note with some positive messages, encouraging the air freight and the logistics companies to work harder and rise to a new challenge each day.

The one-day industry conference was presented by Cargo Service Center with FedEx, Frankfurt Airport, Turkish Cargo, Etihad Cargo, Skyways Group and Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA) as partners.

The first panel discussion traveled back 20 months ago when the pandemic hit and the logistics and supply chain industries had to work harder, stepping odds to make sure the pharmaceuticals and vaccines are delivered on time.

While detailing the challenges the air cargo community faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and describing how it has opened new opportunities for the industry, Tushar Jani, chairman, Cargo Service Center (CSC), said, “Why can't we work forever the way we worked during the Covid-19 pandemic. We were moving cargo to the shipper in 30 minutes. This happens only once in a century.”

Manoj Singh, SVP and head of cargo, Mumbai International Airport, who also detailed his experiences during the pandemic including his sleepless night and how he responded to queries and requests from the central government, said, “Not even a single day Mumbai Airport took a break during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hats off to all stakeholders who worked hard to move and prioritise pharma shipments to fight the pandemic.”

Yashpal Sharma, MD, Skyways Group, said, “My learning from the Covid-19 pandemic is to spend quality time in preparing a business continuity plan to deal with such situations in the future. Logistics could never take a back seat.”

Responding to a question from Reji John, editor, STAT Trade Times, if the pandemic has exposed the gaps in supply chains, Jani said, “Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call. For all of us. For every stakeholder across the supply chain.”

Roland Weil, vice president sales – cargo, Frankfurt Airport stressed the need to look at the pandemic period from a futuristic lens. “The foundation is laid to deal with the next challenge. Next generation has to build on this foundation and has to keep learning. There is no way back to how we used to operate,” he said.

In the second panel which dealt with the complexities of delivering biologically derived, temp-controlled drugs and therapies, speakers stressed the investments coming into this segment, increasing shipments of temperature-controlled pharma shipments and the business recovery strategy.

Sreenivas Rao Nandigam, global head of supply chain, Sun Pharma, said, “There is no way the pharma industry can't deliver but it has the increased complexity of cold chain. Therefore, the local logistics service points close to the patients and customers important.”

Ça?da? ATABAY, cargo product development, Turkish Airlines, said, Warehousing is an important element in the pharma supply chain and Turkish Cargo is investing to expand its capabilities in this segment to offer the streamlined movement of pharmaceuticals across our network.”

While delivering a keynote to the third panel Fabrice Panza, Manager, Global Cool Chain Solutions, Etihad Cargo, said, “Early on we identified the challenges to move Covid-19 vaccines in terms of maintaining a very low temperature and reaching the destinations where we never been before. And we took initiatives to address it.”

The third panel continued with the discussion on sustainable packing solutions measures adopted by pharma manufacturing and logistics companies.

Hristo Petkov, global head of pharmaceuticals, A.P. Moller - Maersk, said, “We have evolved from shipping to integrated logistics solution provider and therefore we care about supply chain stakeholders and the society around. Thus, it is very important for us to think about sustainability.”

Ravi Kumar Tummalapalli, Head of Logistics-APAC, Japan and China, Teva Pharmaceuticals, said, “We consider it as our responsibility to imbibe sustainability into both our day-to-day operations and long-term goals taking care of how shipments are moving around the world and the packaging used.”

The last panel addressed the development of digitalization and the involvement of technology in the movement of pharma products. Sid Chakravarthy, Founder & CEO, StaTwig, “For the first time, with StaTwig, we have a solution to track and trace pharma products with the already printed identification without heavy automation or scanners across the supply chain but with a simple mobile app.”

Smrithi Kumar Iyer, AGM information technology, Cargo Service Center, said, “We have upgraded the ERP to enable the real-time temperature monitoring mobile app Turant which helps the stakeholders across the supply chain to know what is happening to their shipments.”

Vikram Singh, CEO and founder, TechEagle shared his first experience of delivering vaccines through drones. TechEagle delivered Asia’s first cold-chain vaccine in September 2021 in Telangana. “During the first delivery, we transported about 200 vaccines and monitored the temperature during the flight journey. In this project, we learned that there is a need to digitalise the logistics that fall in between the last mile and the mid-mile”.

After the pandemic, the logistics and supply chain industry are looking towards smooth supply chains, communication, consistency and digitalised logistics. In the coming year, the industry will be looking forward to more innovation with the help of digital and sustainability.

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