07-11SEP21 saw the first ever Pharma Logistics Masterclass take place in Antwerp, Belgium, and judging by the feedback, there will be more than one encore to this premiere, going forward. The 5 days turned out 9 key insights, amidst a great deal of discussion.
The news was out back in JUN21: billed as “where the academic world and industry shake hands,” the trigger for
the first Pharma Logistics Masterclass hosted by Pharma.Aero, the University of Antwerp, and the Metrans Transportation Consortium, was the pandemic highlighting the need for greater discourse
across a larger cross-section of society. Whilst governments and pharmaceutical companies were looking to academic institutions for data analytics, the industry was turning pharma.aero for
advice. A “think tank” formed between the University of Antwerp and Pharma.Aero along with virologists and industry experts, and that led to the idea of a multiplayer Masterclass.
75 business executives and academics
The Pharma Logistics Masterclass, which was held both as a physical, onsite event at the University of Antwerp and the Metrans Transportation Consortium, as well as with the option to join in virtually, numbered 75 business executives and academics. The list of presenters was impressively long, and covered every viewpoint, from airlines and airports, to supply chain experts, pharma and healthcare representatives, academics, researchers, virologists, and others. Frank Van Gelder, Co-chair of the Masterclass and Secretary-General of Pharma.Aero commented: “The unique knowledge-sharing and networking between business professionals and academics during the Masterclass had built a bridge between the two communities in the pharma logistics area. From the industry’s perspectives, the participants learned what and how scientific methods could be applied to optimize logistics processes for the pharma and life sciences sector. The participants also had an insightful crash course on vaccinology and the importance of just-in-time and reliable supply chains, from raw materials to the final products delivery.”
9 key takeaways
Professor Dr. Roel Gevaers, Co-chair of the Masterclass concluded: “The inaugural Pharma Logistics Masterclass covered several current critical aspects of pharma logistics. It created an excellent opportunity for seasoned business professionals to gain more in-depth knowledge and for academics to obtain advanced insights into how pharma supply chains are organized in practice.”
The mix of presentations, debates, practical workshops, and site visits all serving to highlight and address the current challenges face by pharma logistics and supply chains, heralded 9 “strategic takeaways”. These were that “the pharma logistics market will continue to grow horizontally and vertically at an accelerated pace,” given the increasing population, dynamic economies as well as continued advances in pharmaceuticals. “PIL1 becomes VAL2”: pharma as commodity is mutating into an increasingly valuable one, leading to necessary handling process adaptations to include security, monitoring, tracking, tracing, steering, and reporting capabilities, plus “the pharma supply chain needs to become more sustainable.” Green and clean is a growing public concern to which the pharma industry is already responding and thus increasing the pressure to see the same focus demonstrated by all players along the supply chain.
Supply chain changes, challenges, and choices
“Air vs ocean freight.” Although the current sea freight upheavals may speak the contrary at the moment, the observation is there that the maritime industry is upping its game in terms of pharma transport and beginning to muscle in on what is traditionally a more air-cargo focused commodity. “Effectiveness is often more important than efficiency.” It is not simply about cost efficiency in the supply chain: pharma logistics places are great emphasis on reliability, transparency, sustainability, and security. “Changes in business models (B2B to B2B2C) create last-mile challenges.” The famous last mile – a stumbling block not just for pharma. In light of the explosion in e-commerce and the disruption it has brought to traditional distribution models, pharma logistics needs to up its game and quickly adapt to match.
The future is volatile and virtual
“COVID-19 is not the last disruptive event.” Not really what anyone wants to hear, but at least the current pandemic highlighted both the existing logistical challenges as well as the need for greater collaboration and resilience (not just) in the pharma supply chain. Going forward, the lessons learned will serve to improve supply chain reactions to similar events in future. “Big Data and new technologies will make significant inroads into Supply Chain Management.” What will certainly support decision-making and reactions going forward, is the increased use and capabilities of artificial intelligence and advanced analytics. These technologies will play a core role in future.
Same time, next year!
The final key finding, was the “need for increased coordination and collaboration between all players in the supply chain.” This was a unanimous conclusion on the part of all the Masterclass attendees at the end of the five days. “There is a need for enhanced collaboration and exchange of information to upgrade current supply chain to the next level.”
Based on the resounding success of the first Pharma Logistics Masterclass, the Masterclass organizing committee announced that a second edition Masterclass will take place from 05SEP22-09SEP22, and that this will continue the focus on those 9 main issues raised.
We welcome and publish comments from all authenticated users.