While cold chain products are growing steadily, current capabilities and operational insights are insufficient to meet future needs—and patient demands—for consistent visibility, quality assurance, flexibility, and agile execution. Life sciences companies, however, cannot just lift and shift old ways of operating to serve new needs. They require new capabilities and agile operating models that can ship 100,000 doses of traditional medicines as effectively as one dose of a personalized therapy.
of respondents said they lack efficient logistics cold chain capabilities at scale(2).
To understand the key challenges life sciences professionals experience in building and managing a cold chain in this new landscape, Accenture recently conducted a survey of 200 industry executives from Europe and North America. These insights shed light on how life sciences companies can work with partners to incorporate a patient-centric cold chain into their overarching supply chain operating model.
1. The challenge of fragmented infrastructure networks and evolving requirements
The infrastructure involves physical and logistics capabilities, such as automated, high-density storage warehouses and thermal shippers for ultra-low and cryogenic temperatures to no more than 2-8˚C.
The infrastructure is supported by Internet of Things solutions that collect and transmit environmental monitoring data in real time.
The cold chain infrastructure landscape, however, is in flux and demand is increasing.
2. Lack of end-to-end insights
Approximately 90% of companies are using multiple disconnected solutions to collect data across the cold chain.
The lack of coherent real-time environmental monitoring makes it difficult to gain visibility into the product while in transit, risking ETA management, security & document compliance, and continuous temperature monitoring across multiple logistics legs.
The lack of insight exacerbates functional organizational siloes.
56% of survey respondents are using visibility tools in the cold chain but find them unsatisfactory.
3. Capability gap
About two-thirds of life sciences companies report a significant workforce capability gap.
Facilitating cold chain requires skills in artificial intelligence (AI), IT automation, analytical skills, engineering, and geopolitical awareness.
Pressure is mounting on cold chain participants to deliver on this potential at scale. Accenture research, however, revealed that life sciences companies, particularly those who didn’t take part in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, are acutely aware that their operating models may become uncompetitive in the evolving biopharma landscape.
In 2020, the business of delivering cold chain pharmaceuticals reached $17.2 billion.
Cold chain participants won’t necessarily need to revamp their entire supply chain. Creating a strategy and roadmap, however, are critical first steps to successfully scale at speed while avoiding ill-considered investments.
Define the vision
Evaluate your products and determine what your cold chain will require.
Identify and prioritize the factors (disease burden, product type, etc.) most pertinent to your business.
Set your north star
Assess your product portfolio. Map and further segment the products on the framework(s) to discern nuances.
Determine desired capabilities
Identify common capabilities across major segments for all frameworks under consideration.
Implement and continuously improve
Acquire agnostic solutions and capabilities that can serve all product segments across a rapidly changing landscape.
Life sciences companies, particularly those who didn’t take part in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, are acutely aware that their operating models may become uncompetitive in the evolving biopharma landscape.
Right investment, right outcome
Cold chain participants need to be ready to act, whatever their role is in the ecosystem. Making the system technologically agnostic and flexible enough to accommodate what lies ahead will be a payoff in and of itself.
Those who adopt innovative cold chain solutions quickly and make the right investments the first time stand to gain significantly, as do their patients. They will be in a position to outmaneuver competitors with multiple benefits.