In Focus: Supply Chain Visibility

A recent article, published in PharmTech, examines how supply chain disruptions seem to be more the norm, than the exception. Pharmaceutical shippers are implementing many strategies, tools and approaches to overcome these challenges – especially on the digital front. These include additional or new monitoring solutions, digital connectivity of their supply chain enterprises, and the golden goose egg – automation using AI, machine learning and analytics tools. However most pharmaceutical manufacturers are in early stages, laying the groundwork for digital transformation.  

Prepare your supply chain

Sonoco ThermoSafe’s Ben VanderPlas weighed in. “It is essential to map the supply chain both upstream and downstream and to perform a proper risk assessment,” says Ben VanderPlas, director of engineering and R&D, Sonoco ThermoSafe. Meanwhile, VanderPlas says that establishing regular audits, quality agreements, and standard operating procedures with all suppliers is also essential to reduce risk and eliminate supply chain blind spots. “As audits uncover issues, each finding should be categorized according to risk (major, minor, recommendation) and an action plan must be developed with the supplier to address each concern,” VanderPlas notes.

Transparency is key

Sonoco ThermoSafe’s Vivian Berni, director of product management and strategic marketing, explains, “Improved visibility allows you to see what inventory is with your suppliers in your distribution center and in your warehouse at any moment—and understand what’s going on with your suppliers and your customers—so you can take the necessary steps to accelerate order fulfillment and exceed customer expectations while keeping operating costs low,” she outlines.

“The idea of transparency carries more weight than it did years ago,” Berni continues, adding that such efforts are especially important in the pharma industry, as pharmaceutical companies routinely outsource key segments of the process—such as packaging, logistics, distribution, and more—to third-party partners, amplifying the potential risk of disruption.

To read the full article, Reducing Blind Spots in the Pharma Supply Chain, visit PharmTech website. Reducing Blind Spots in the Pharma Supply Chain ( The article was written by Susanne Shelley, Contributing Editor. 

To dig into this topic further, watch the Pharma Freight video interview with Amy Shortman, at Overhaul, as she explains how companies can move forward in their digital journey one step at a time.