The goal of the industry’s supply chain is to ensure that quality medicines reach the hands of the patient. The industry is highly regulated, and with over 100,000 manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, dispensers, 3PL and various logistics company’s, so it is easy to see how things can get lost or the quality of a drug can ‘degrade.’ I’ve recently presented on the topic of the Internet of Things (IoT) for the Pharma Supply Chain at the ‘Interphex’ and ‘DSCSA and Blockchain’ events. The purpose of this blog post is to summarize the key points that were shared.
Background and Full Disclosure
I work for T-Systems North America, Inc., and a division of Deutsche Telekom AG, a German telecommunications company based in Bonn. We are a series B investor in Roambee Corporation, a cloud-based provider of shipment monitoring services. The company has been in business since 2013. I run Healthcare and Life Sciences for T-Systems. I work with Pharma companies to solve key supply chain issues and leverage the use of the Roambee IoT device for ‘shipment visibility.’
What problems are we looking to solve?
There are a lot of discussions going on with Blockchain technology. While these issues are taking place my stance is to solve problems today and provide a means of ‘real-time’ status of your ‘global’ drug shipments. In the industry presentations we pose the following questions to the audience:
- Can you ensure that your patients receiving your medicines are of the same quality when it left the manufacturing site?
- If the FDA had asked you, “how long does it take for you to identify if your shipment has been stolen? Or compromised?” how would you reply?
- Can you rely on your supply chain partners to ensure that my brand is protected from counterfeiters?
I will provide you answers to these questions and post links to these presentations at the end of this post.
Key features of the device
The device is referred to as a “Bee,” and is a reusable device that operates on a global basis. You have the option of using one or more of these sensors for each shipment. From the moment you combine the device with your shipment across all modes of transportation.
Let’s answer these questions in the context of using the Roambee IoT device.
Can you ensure that your patients receiving your medicines are of the same quality when it left the manufacturing site?
True track and trace of your product using IoT would allow you to track your shipment anywhere in the world. Turning on specific parameters such as ‘Tilt’, and or ‘Temperature’ gives you the condition of your product. Here are a few examples from actual shipments:
- Using ‘Tilt’ and ‘Shock’ for a given package would alert you to the fact that your shipper may have dropped your package. This is especially critical if your product is in glass.
- Using the ‘Temperature’ feature you have onboard National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST) certified temperature sensors. This is ‘cold chain’ measurement and what is different is that you receive ‘real-time’ alerts (SMS) or email messages if your product goes out of specification.
- Using the ‘altitude’ feature if your shipment is sent via airfreight. The device will automatically switch to a data logger once it reached a certain altitude.
If the FDA had asked you, “how long does it take for you to identify if your shipment has been stolen? Or compromised?” how would you reply …
- Since the device has a built-in GPS with GSM capability you can track your shipment to within 5 meters anywhere in the world. You can also track the shippers travel speed and location so that is there is any deviation from the shipment route you would know this via an alert within 15 minutes or less!
Can you rely on your supply chain partners to ensure that my brand is protected from counterfeiters?
- Unfortunately, not all members of your supply chain have resolutions in place to defend against stolen products.
- A useful feature of this device is the ‘Light’ sensor. If you have pallets filled with multiple boxes of your product. If the box is opened ‘before’ it reaches its final destination it would signify that someone has ‘tampered’ with your shipment. This would also trigger an alert (SMS and/or email).
Now what …
How can I help you? Interested in a demo or a proof-of-concept (POC) project happy to help feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn.
Interested in learning more here are links to a few presentation and blog posts
- Presentation on using IoT for Cold Chain and how to connect this into your Blockchain, which was given at the “DSCSA and Blockchain” event on May 1st, 2018 at John Hopkins in Rockville, MD.
- Presentation on Integrating IoT for your Pharma Supply Chain, which was given at “Interphex” conference on April 18th, 2018 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York, NY.
- Blog post on Connecting Your ERP with IoT and Ultimately Blockchain written on November 16, 2017, and discusses how IoT is an extension of your ERP and possibly Blockchain.
Later this year will be at the SAP Sapphire and IoT Slam events to further discuss using IoT for other applications. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.