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December 03, 2018
Intelligent supply chain: Early adopters are gaining ground
By: Carly Guenther

Life sciences supply chain leaders recognize they can make a big impact by leveraging today’s digital technologies to architect an intelligent supply chain that revolves around services. We see early adopters that are effectively exploiting this digital disruption with investments that ignite their supply chain for growth and put patients at the center.

One global pharmaceutical company used machine learning to establish a supply chain planning capability with enhanced business processes and advanced systems. The initiative included a hyper-care approach and long-term support model which resulted in a reduction of inventory working capital by approximately $350 million and a high return on investment with inventory reductions achieved through SKU-level market segmentation and finished goods inventory modeling. The process automation reduced manual effort and management by exception using interactive visual dashboards for more efficiency.

For warehouse automation, we see effective use of drones for cycle counting. Accenture delivered an autonomous, indoor camera processing system proof of concept for stock inventory management in distribution warehouses, which successfully tested the ability for drones to co-inhabit distribution space with staff operators and integrate with the camera system.

Our research shows that 64 percent of life sciences organizations are currently deploying blockchain, with another 30 percent planning to deploy it in the next 3 years1. Obviously the most significant opportunity for the application of blockchain is for serialization and track and trace to effectively and securely share data across the ecosystem and eventually with the end patient.

In its “digital” biologics plant in Geel, Belgium, Sanofi installed sensors that measure more than 5,000 parameters along the production process and generate over one billion data points in every single manufacturing cycle for analysis in helping to monitor and maintain high production yield levels and enable predictive maintenance. Sanofi’s super modern plants also leverage augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), giving them real-time views and information to make data-driven production decisions and adjustments as needed2.

However, we still see the late adopters who struggle to view their technology investments and supply chain functions holistically. They choose a fragmented investment strategy as they dabble in digital technologies across the different supply chain functions with a generalized focus on increased efficiency.

Those who stand still, rather than pivot to the new, put themselves at risk of being able to do the one thing that matters most: better serve their patients.



1 Accenture Research, Reinventing Supply Chains With New IT, Life Sciences, March 2018.
2 “Sanofi pushes hard into robotics and analytics to get most out of manufacturing,” Eric Palmer, October 25, 2017 (Accessed on April 17, 2018 and viewable at: https://www.fiercepharma.com/manufacturing/sanofi-pushes-hard-into-robotics-and-analytics-to-get-most-out-manufacturing).

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