Digitization of Pharmaceutical Logistics

Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences’ research project ensures greater transparency and security in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

[Click here for the original publication in German]

1. Initial situation

With a total turnover of 39.5 billion euros in 2016, the German pharmaceutical industry is one of the most important economic sectors in Germany. With its products, the industry contributes significantly to increasing the quality of life and life expectancy of people.

Pharmaceutical products are produced and distributed globally, and the globalization of the pharmaceutical supply chain leads to an increase in air cargo transports. The increasing globalization of production and distribution, the market regulations, the trend towards outsourcing and the volatile environmental conditions pose enormous challenges to all those involved in the pharmaceutical supply chain, i.e. complex challenges.

In recent years, the legal situation has steadily increased and the responsibility for the product quality from production to final consumer has been assigned to the pharmaceutical manufacturer. Since 2013, the European Commission’s “Guidelines on Good Distribution Practice of Medicinal Products for Human Use” (EU GDP Guidelines) has called for risk-based quality management by the pharmaceutical companies, that base their risk assessment on scientific knowledge and experience with corresponding processes. Furthermore, the transportation planning should be risk-based.

As a consequence, pharmaceutical manufacturers and logistics service providers are increasingly expressing the need for security, transparency and visibility along the drug supply chain, as well as the requirement for reliable, intelligent IT systems for risk visualization of the transportation chain.

2. Research goal

The research project PSCRM of Frankfurt UAS supports network partners in meeting these requirements for scientific quality management. For the first time, pharmaceutical manufacturers will be sitting around the table with representatives of companies involved in the logistics chain. Under the direction of Professor Dr. Ing. Yvonne Ziegler, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, they will be collaborating and working on a common risk-based quality management solution based on scientific insights and experience with related risk assessment processes of drug supply chains.

The project objective is to develop an innovative, web-based service that helps companies along the pharmaceutical supply chain with both the design of the transportation network (strategic level) and the monitoring of individual shipments (tactical level).

The supply chain with its complex network of internal and external interfaces between manufacturers, suppliers and customers is identified and digitized together with the project partners as part of the holistic supply chain risk management in order to minimize risks. The project team enters new territory. So far, similar risk models only exist in the financial sector. With the resulting digital solution, the path of the temperature-controlled pharmaceutical products from production to customer becomes transparent and, in the long term, predictable with regards to safety, growth and sales increase.

The IT tool prototype, developed during the research project, will be transferred to an independent new company in Hessen as an IT service.

Project Team

Project Lead

Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences

Project Partners

Cyntegrity Germany GmbH, RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, Fulda University of Applied Sciences, Bayer AG, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG and GEFCO Forwarding Germany GmbH

Associated Partners

IATA – International Air Transport Association, BPI Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry, Darmstadt Regional Council, Air Cargo Community Frankfurt, Sanofi-Aventis Germany GmbH, Merck KGaA, Merz Pharma GmbH & Co. KGaA, Roche Diagnostics GmbH, r-biopharm AG, ELPRO- BUCHS AG, Dusseldorf Cargo GmbH, Lufthansa Cargo AG, Airbridge Cargo Airlines, Schenker Deutschland AG, Frigo-Trans GmbH, Bolloré Logistics, Transco Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH and TSafe GmbH

Running Time

1st September 2017 – 31st December 2019

Project Funding

The total expenditure is estimated at around one million euro, half of which is borne by the project partners. The state of Hesse promotes this practice-oriented project (HA Project No .: 555 / 17-37) in the context of Hessen ModellProjekte with funds from the LOEWE – State Offensive for the Development of Scientific and Economic Excellence, funding line 3: SME cooperation projects with 500,000 euros.