How Pfizer is Using Mobile Technology to Boost Supply Chain Visibility

Mobile technology has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. The now ubiquitous mobile device has gone from being a simple phone to a powerful, all-purpose, portable hub of information, entertainment, and communication.

Naturally, this technology is presenting great opportunities for global industry and giving businesses the world over new ways to boost their services and engage with their audiences. Mobile apps in particular are empowering brands to give their clients and customers new ways of accessing business-critical information at any time and wherever they may be.

As a major supplier of pharmaceutical products, Pfizer understands the importance of mobile technology and is using it to boost visibility within its supply chain.

Supply Chain Visibility

According to research by Deloitte, 65 percent of procurement executives feel they have insufficient visibility beyond their direct suppliers. This means that, as the supply chain gets longer, visibility into the more distant links in that chain becomes less clear.

But why is visibility such a massive concern for pharmaceutical supply chains? If pharma brands are unable to establish end-to-end visibility in their supply chains, it becomes very difficult, or even impossible, for them to accurately determine the origin, authenticity, and condition of any product passing through it.

Pfizer alone has a product line of over 24,000 SKUs and over 200 contract manufacturers that it counts as partners across 175 countries. When you consider the statistic that one in ten medications sold in developing countries is counterfeit or of substandard quality, the issue becomes clear. These fake drugs cause thousands of deaths every year, either through containing poisonous or simply inactive ingredients – making it incredibly important that pharmaceutical brands are able to trace and track products throughout the supply chain.

With end-to-end visibility throughout the supply chain, it becomes incredibly difficult for these fraudulent medicines to enter it at any point. Improved security and tracking of shipments make sure that every stage of a shipment’s journey is carefully monitored, and the contents remain uncompromised.


As a major drug maker and supplier, Pfizer wanted a way to provide stakeholders with a single source of accurate and truthful information on the condition and location of their shipments – wherever in the world they may be. To achieve this, it launched the Highly Orchestrated Supply Network (HOSuN) – a new network designed to support all customers by strengthening the supply chain from end to end.

“HOSuN's Intercompany Operations (IO) group consists of colleagues from around the world who manage more than 17,000 air, 1,700-plus ocean and in excess of 34,000 surface shipments each year,” reports SupplyChainBrain. “The IO team plans, monitors and follows up on shipments so customer expectations can be fulfilled. What the IO team determined it needed was a combination of existing information and modern communication technology to enable all stakeholders to proactively access relevant data in an innovative, digital, and user-friendly way.”

One of the more interesting developments to come out of the HOSuN project is the End-to-End In-Transit Visibility (E2E ITV) project. The project connects stakeholders in “Orchestrate”, “Make”, “Delivery” and “Markets,” to give them access to all the information they need regarding their shipments. The program gathers data from throughout the supply chain and presents it in a personalised view. For example, brand supply leaders (orchestrate) can access transit data to track inventory across the globe and evaluate supply chain vulnerabilities.

“Pfizer’s supply chain involves multiple parties and sites, starting with a market signalling demand for a certain product. Depending on the inventory on hand at market and shipments already in transit, market teams either confirm that they have sufficient stock or trigger an order. Once the product is ready for shipment in the supply location, an outbound delivery is created in SAP and corresponding booking is secured with the relevant freight forwarder. Depending on the physical lane of the shipment, the product might be routed via an Intercompany Operations warehouse for consolidation or for other market-specific requirements.”

All the functions of ITV can be accessed from the innovative TrackiT app which was also developed by Pfizer. This allows stakeholders to access crucial supply chain information at any time and wherever they might be in the world. This adds a further layer of visibility to proceedings as stakeholders need not be limited by normal working hours or needing to be sat at a particular terminal to gain insight and visibility into their supply chain operations.

Final Thoughts

Pfizer’s new app-based supply chain platform is adding new levels of visibility to its shipping process and taking the fight to those who would attempt to introduce dangerous fraudulent drugs into the system. It will remain to be seen how the introduction of blockchain technology will further boost supply chain visibility.

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