Full shipment visibility across supply chains has been an elusive goal for decades. Sensor technologies enhance visibility, but until recently affordable track and trace solutions have been mainly passive. That is, data recorders placed inside containers, trailers, railcars and/or SKUs record shipment condition in real time, end-to-end, but are unable to transmit the data, which is downloaded on completion of the shipment. Active sensors which report data as it’s collected have been available but not widely used, due to their higher cost and shorter battery life.
Advances in sensors, wireless communications, location-based systems and batteries – in combination with the data processing power, storage capacity, process automation and analytics of cloud computing – now make possible active platform solutions that collect, interpret and share location and condition data across the end-to-end supply chain in real time. This offers shippers, manufacturers, distributors and logistics services providers continuous, real-time visibility, with actionable alerts, to intercept, redirect or order replacement product to meet OTIF, service level agreement and regulatory compliance targets. Analytics applied to current and historical shipment data provide valuable operations insights for planning and for measuring performance.
No sector has a greater stake in these advances than pharmaceuticals and life sciences. A single damaged, refused shipment can trigger a write-off in millions of dollars. Recent chaos and uncertainty make a strong use case for real-time, end-to-end visibility at scale in the pharma cold chain.
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