Emerging tech in the supply chain: What you need to know

We share insight from Dan Mirica, former Global Head of Logistics at Lonza, on what you need to do as you start to integrate emerging tech into your supply chain

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Pharma IQ

We’re currently in a period of high innovation, with new technologies emerging that could drastically impact the way we operate the supply chain. For drones, the Internet of Things, self-driving cars and blockchain, the proposed applications are numerous. Currently, though, the applications have been fragmented as companies test out technology without regulatory guidance or best practice to follow.

Dan Mirica, former Global Head of Logistics at Lonza, told us in a recent webinar that a lot of the early questions have revolved around whether we are ready for these types of applications. In his opinion, this is not the first time we have introduced disruptive tech to the supply chain.

If you consider early forms of innovation, from steam engines to commercial plans to smart phones, we have always adapted what is new. In fact, these may have been even more disruptive than what we are facing today.

Dan believes that one of the most significant considerations is not can we adapt, but rather, what approach should we be taking. While some companies are diving right in, others are taking a hands off approach to consider all potential implementations. For Dan, the best approach is to start small, fail fast and then implement your learnings. It is an iterative approach that has served many well and that he believes will allow us to be nimble and agile to future changes. As he discussed, we could not have predicted the jump that smart phones have made in terms of their capabilities and we have to recognize that for much of this technology we are at the earliest phases and are yet to see their final form.

One of the most crucial points Dan makes is to consider, are we asking the right questions? While we’re all excited for the new technology at our door, are we considering the full impact.

Dan shares the questions he is currently asking himself:

  • With new and emerging technologies, how will or can this change the way we qualify routes and or validate shippers?
  • Do we foresee how regulations may change as new and emerging technologies are implemented throughout the supply chain?
  • Real time data sounds like a great idea, but what are you doing with it? Is there an immediate response plan? Are future business plans impacts? Is this just a nice-to-have not a need-to-have?
  • How can new and enhanced temperature data monitors better serve manufacturer-to-patient supply chain controls?
  • What industries are currently implementing Blockchain and what is the potential for it to scale globally?
  • What are some of the risks associated with the adoption of all the current (or future) emerging technologies?