LogiPharma Europe 2024: Delivering Agility in Supply Chains Through Building Multimodal Cold Chain Networks


In an interview with Pharma Commerce Editor Nicholas Saraceno, Cathy O'Brien, VP of Sales, UPS Healthcare discusses her masterclass on delivering agility in supply chains by building a multimodal cold chain network while also reducing risks at LogiPharma Europe 2024.

PC: What specific trends have you noticed the show?

O’Brien: There’s a lot of tech developments. It’s probably the first year where I've noticed a lot of the innovation is coming from the tech space around digital technology control and visibility. There’s been some cool and innovative tech ideas coming from companies where they're looking at how do you get that control and visibility right to the final mile, right to the patient. That’s probably the newest trend I've seen in terms of where the focus is on new innovations. A lot of the other trends we’ve been talking about for awhile are cold chain management, cold chain solutions, capacity in the cold chain, as well as sustainability, which is always in these events over the last five years, a hot topic as we all know.

PC: You recently led a “masterclass” on delivering agility in supply chains by building a multimodal cold chain network while also reducing risks. What did that entail?

O’Brien: We had a high turnout. We were talking a lot about the challenges that we've seen since COVID. But I don’t want to talk about COVID, it’s in the past. But since COVID, we've seen so much disruption. We’ve seen the war in the Ukraine, we now have the war in the Middle East, and we're seeing the Suez Canal channel challenges. The whole discussion was about all those challenges happening in pharma, which are for the most part uncontrollable. There are external factors you can’t control. How do you control the areas you can control? If we look at the cold chain network that is mostly used by pharma today, there's many breaks and risks in that cold chain. The whole discussion was around how to mitigate those risks. How do you remain agile, resilient, in the face of all this disruption by making decisions that you can actually make to reduce risk in your supply chain, which many of the pharma companies in the room today admitted, they're a bit slower to make change? When it comes to logistics, supply chain collaborations, and partnerships, they tend to continue to do what they've always done. So, we were kind of challenging that whole concept, and then talking about what if you could actually control the whole end to end supply chain with what we call your closed network, meaning you have the same provider right from the beginning of the journey, right to when you deliver the product, either to the patient or to the hospital or to the final mile. You call it that chain of custody, it doesn't get broken. What would that do to mitigate your risk? That was the main discussion point. UPS is investing heavily in healthcare; we have been doing so for the last 15 to 20 years. But since 2019, we have invested billions of dollars in expanding the cold chain capabilities. Now we’re on the next two-to-three-year journey, which is how do we bring our cold chain freight network to our customers and really look at that cost study ownership and the control and visibility that I just talked about. When you marry the control and visibility of the technology that's out there with a network like UPS’, then you really can address that broken cold chain and those risks in the cold chain.

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