The pharmaceutical and food industry faces several challenges – pricing issues, increasingly stringent regulation and compliance requirements, keeping abreast of latest developments, more knowledgeable and discerning end users, governmental pressure to switch to greener methods and so on. The technology of IoT remote diagnostic devices used in cold chain management is today benefiting pharmaceutical and food industry greatly in a number of ways, helping them provide more efficient delivery and boost revenues. IoT helps companies overcome several challenges faced in cold chain management for restaurants, cold storages, pharmaceuticals including bio pharmaceuticals. Let’s see how:
Issues Faced In Cold Chain Management
Temperature deviations: this can affect the efficacy of the product, even making it unsafe. Minimizing or eliminating sharp temperature variances is a critical challenge. It is important to establish at the outset, what the ideal temperature for a particular medicine or vaccine is.
Wrong packaging/insulation: different types of insulated containers are used by companies for different products. The containers use varying types and sizes of refrigerants. Some of them have to undergo conditioning in various stages before they are used; and each refrigerant usually has a different system. Each package necessitates different methods of packing out as well. This means employees need to learn innumerable types of designs and methods, and this often leads to confusion and errors during packing – leading to the product being exposed to temperature variation and, subsequently, becoming less efficient, or useless.
A need for solutions that work in different parts of the world: Depending on the climatic conditions and regulatory environment existing in different countries, the manufacturers need to know at what temperatures to ship, what packaging materials to use and so on.
How IoT Can Help Resolve the Problems
Developments in IoT technology for monitoring, communication, and managing the pharmaceutical cold chain are helping companies to perform in transit medication management (ITMM) much more efficiently by providing live visibility of the supply chain.
Live visibility also allows companies to pull inventory depending on demand at the pharmacies rather than push it from the factory – leading to more efficient supply chain management.
IoT sensors help to track factors in cold chain management like temperature, pressure, humidity, tampering, location, and to identify drugs at any point in the chain. So you can see that depending on the parameters being tracked, the value propositions offered by IoT are: 1) drug quality ( temperature, pressure etc.) 2)drug location (GPS coordinates, accelerometer) and 3) drug security (tampering, identification). Thanks to the strides made in sensor technology, there is improvement in accuracy of measurement, reduced power consumption and costs, and decreased form factors with higher integration. This enables more reliable tracking of a wider variety of parameters at affordable costs using devices with longer battery life; some are even powered by harvested energy.
Due to wireless connectivity, real time tracking data can be accessed by companies, and they can take remedial action as soon as a problem occurs. Compared to earlier times, this technology is easier to use, costs less and uses less power. Now ITMM solutions can be linked to the cloud via NFC, WiFi, Bluetooth and so on; based on the cost, usage charges, security and power usage, you can choose any of the protocols.
Mobile devices function as displays, scanners, alert systems, local hubs for analysis and offer an easy gateway to the cloud – removing the need for multiple devices, terminals and expensive processors; this has made ITMM solutions more affordable. By giving access to meaningful, real time data, intuitive apps enable logistics providers to manage their cold chains more efficiently. Now every employee can be equipped with a mobile device for real time recording and analyzing of data, improving the responsiveness and proficiency of the cold chain as a whole.
With the advent of the cloud, logistics providers are now able to log and manage events within the supply chain – revolutionising the way data has been shared and reported globally. Report generation can now be automated, as can submitting those reports to the regulatory authorities. By leveraging the cloud and ITMM apps, you can have an internationally centralized and standardized process, leading to greater efficiency.
By making use of IoT technology in cold chain, pharmaceutical companies can now ensure faster delivery of better quality drugs to several locations – thus ensuring that medicines reach those who are in urgent need of them. IoT has truly changed the game where the delivery of life saving medicines is concerned.