Secure logistics in healthcare

September 2017 Editor's Choice, Asset Management, EAS, RFID, Integrated Solutions, Healthcare (Industry)

The logistics of obtaining, storing and moving the right stock at the right time is a challenge in any industry, but more so in the healthcare business where the consequences of mistakes go further than simply losing money. Steve Mallaby, CEO of Cquential Solutions, spoke to Hi-Tech Security Solutions about the logistics of securely storing and moving medicines through the channel, from manufacturers to patients.

Steve Mallaby, CEO Cquential Solutions.
Steve Mallaby, CEO Cquential Solutions.

Mallaby says the best way to address the issue is by directly relating the details around a national leader in this sector and a long standing customer of Cquential, Cipla, one of South Africa’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers. “The complexities and compliance requirements surrounding Cipla Gateway Distribution’s move to a new, state-of-the-art warehouse facility in Tableview, with the goal of ensuring that operations were transferred seamlessly with minimal downtime, gives a bird’s-eye view of problems around secure storage and movement of

medicines through the channel.

“In a nutshell, it is about getting the right medicines to the right patient at the right time, especially when dealing with lifesaving chronic medication. But it is also critical to get stock rotation right, i.e. the management of expiry dates. It doesn’t help to dispatch your new goods first because you land up with old and expired stock.”

Additionally, in the case of medicines which must be stored at the correct temperature, it is critical to ensure the ‘cold chain’ is preserved across the entire supply chain.

Established in 1935 in India, Cipla is a global manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, with a vision of providing world-class medicines at affordable prices. It manufactures more than 1500 products across 65 therapeutic categories. It currently operates in more than 170 countries. Cipla is one of South Africa’s market leaders in terms of both value and volume.

Cquential Solutions is a software development and services company that provides complete solutions for supply chain and warehouse management. Cquential’s cloud-based, intelligent warehouse management solution (WMS) met the challenges posed by Cipla’s move to the new facility.

Pharmaceutical challenges

In the world of large-scale pharmaceutical distribution, pinpoint accuracy is essential. From a regulatory perspective, medical products must be traceable down to the item. This means from the point of receiving through to sampling, positive release, all the way through to invoice.

Mallaby says there are two reasons for this. “Firstly to trace a batch should it be illegally sold, and secondly, in case of a recall or an enquiry from regulatory bodies requesting a re-test. Additionally, legislation dictates that samples from each batch must be retained for prescribed periods.

“The legal constraints around getting the right product to the right place at the right time are even more crucial in the pharmaceutical industry where we are dealing with expiry dates, scheduled medicines, and quarantine issues.”

Assembling the orders – known as picking in the industry – is difficult because 98% of the distribution is a combination of both cases, plus fine picking. This makes picking orders very inefficient unless a system is in place, so it is vital that the warehouse is correctly set up to support operational efficiency. It is important to understand that hundreds of orders are coming in daily and on each order there are many individual lines making the consolidation of efficient picking very complex. For example, if one additional minute per item is introduced to a situation where thousands of items are being picked per day, costs escalate significantly.

At month-end, the warehouse can be extremely busy with in excess of 7000 lines a day that must be picked, checked and dispatched. This painstaking attention to detail must, of course, be combined with the business need for efficiency and speed.

Large range and massive volumes

Given the sheer volumes of Cipla’s South African operation and the large range of stock items, it was clear that achieving the dual goals of efficiency and accuracy required a flexible yet robust warehouse management system. Also, the company was determined to be able to offer market-leading turnaround times and customer service despite the fact that its Cape Town distribution centre was located far from other population centres.

“The accuracy of the Cquential solution greatly enhanced Cipla’s audit processes and assisted with compliance to the various regulations that govern pharmaceutical suppliers,” adds Mallaby. “It also provided the necessary muscle to enable Cipla to bid for and win large national tenders, such as the R2 billion contract with the Department of Health to supply anti-retroviral drugs for the South African government’s HIV/ AIDS programme from 2015 to 2017.

“Another benefit was that the system now drives the process and represents the intellectual capital relating to warehouse management and distribution, a much less risky alternative to relying on the skills and memory of individuals.”

Nine-month implementation

The Cquential team implemented the Cquential Warehouse Management System over a period of approximately nine months. The first step was to conduct business workshops to document Cipla’s requirements, after which the system was suitably configured. A big part of the job was designing an interface with Sage Evolution ERP, as well as with the IT system used by the courier company.

It was also challenging to introduce a new system and its allied processes into an environment that had no previous warehouse management system experience. To streamline the process, Cipla’s management introduced a focused change-management procedure.

Mallaby says the outcomes achieved include:

• Compliance with regulatory constraints,

• Improved customer service through speed and accuracy,

• Seamless move to the new facility, and

• Guaranteed delivery of the right medicines to the right people at the right time.

In summary, logistics in the healthcare sector is heavily regulated. For example, whenever medication is handled, particularly within the warehouse, legislation dictates that only certain individuals may handle certain goods. For example, only qualified pharmacists may handle certain schedules of medication.

“The WMS must be intelligent enough to send the right jobs to the right people, and direct where goods may be stored within the warehouse, based on their schedule rating,” explains Mallaby. “With the advent of IOT, it opens up opportunities to increase the ability to track goods in real time, monitor temperature, send alerts etc.

For more information, contact Cquential, +27 (0)11 236 4360, info@cquential.com, www.cquential.co.za





Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Key criteria in the selection of CCTV control room operators
Issue 5 2020, Leaderware , Editor's Choice
Some people are better at aspects of the job of CCTV operator than others, and some companies put in a lot more effort in choosing their operators than others.

Read more...
Leaders in risk and security: As long as there are people, there will be risk
Issue 5 2020, iFacts, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice
Jenny Reid is a self-made success, focusing on people, the risks they create and the potential they have.

Read more...
XProtect available on AWS
Issue 5 2020, Milestone Systems, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice
Milestone recently announced the availability of XProtect on Amazon Web Services. Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked Keven Marier for more information.

Read more...
From data centre to edge, from one source
Issue 5 2020 , Editor's Choice
First Distribution (FD) is better known in South Africa as an ICT distributor with an enterprise focus. Its offerings in this regard range from client solutions through to hosted solutions, data centre ...

Read more...
Paxton launches access and video management
Issue 5 2020, Paxton Access , Editor's Choice
Paxton’s next-generation access control and video management system, Paxton10, officially launched in South Africa on 2 July 2020. Paxton10 is the next step in complete security solutions and combines ...

Read more...
The evolution of security in residential estates
Residential Estate Security Handbook 2020 , Editor's Choice, Integrated Solutions, Security Services & Risk Management
Two large estates discuss their security processes and the ever-expanding scope of responsibilities they need to fulfil.

Read more...
The COVID test for estate business continuity planning
Residential Estate Security Handbook 2020, Technews Publishing , Editor's Choice
Many estates were caught unaware when the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown hit. Helderberg Village was ready for the challenge.

Read more...
Home-grown, cloud-based safety and security solutions
Residential Estate Security Handbook 2020 , IT infrastructure, Integrated Solutions
BeSecure has taken security and communications technologies and turned them into what is best described as care and safety solutions for the estate community in South Africa.

Read more...
Bang for your security buck(s)
Residential Estate Security Handbook 2020, Alwinco , Editor's Choice, Security Services & Risk Management
Hi-Tech Security Solutions asks how estates can maintain a good security posture in the time of the ever-shrinking budget.

Read more...
Local or remote management
Residential Estate Security Handbook 2020, Xone Integrated Security, Vox Telecom, Fidelity ADT , Editor's Choice
Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked three companies well versed in offering control room services – either remote, local, or both – what’s happening in the estate monitoring and/or management market.

Read more...