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The supply chains of Life Sciences and Healthcare (LSH) companies are undergoing significant transformation. 

Under pressure to deliver more affordable, quality healthcare, the sector also faces many other challenges – from factors such as increasing regulation and counterfeiting, to new players entering the market.

Previously slow to adopt cutting edge technologies in its supply chains, Life Sciences & Healthcare has ranked in the bottom 20th percentile in the digitalization index.

So how then should a third-party logistics firm and its LSH customers use new digital technologies to make a step change? We spoke to Solutions Design experts from DHL Supply Chain for their views. 

It starts with data…

For Andreas Pilling, Senior Manager, Solutions Design, the key to tackling the challenges within the LSH supply chain starts with data: “If I had a wish list for customers, top of that list would be that they had a really good data overview. Many customers find it difficult to dig down into the very good data they have at hand. But if there was centralized, standardized master data in a secure place, it would really be of benefit. For us, it always starts with data analysis. In fact, Life Sciences & Healthcare is an industry which normally does have good data but it’s generally still not quite enough to plan something like an automated warehouse.”

The reason for this limited visibility is because customers often have many disparate systems. Some might have different systems for tracking stock, temperatures, compliance with regulatory approvals, and serial numbers. It is not uncommon for such systems not to be linked, a factor which is traditionally the biggest roadblock in the way of pharmaceutical customers being able to provide reliable, standardized data.

However, advances in digitalization promise to deliver significant improvements in the collection and usage of data. The field of clinical trials provides a good example. 

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