Here’s How Sanofi is Embracing Industry 4.0 and Blockchain Technology in its Supply Chain
The face of manufacturing and supply chains is changing as the fourth industrial revolution continues to gather steam. Exciting new technology is being incorporated at all levels of the logistics industry, and global biopharmaceutical brand Sanofi is no different. The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 as it’s known, refers to the fourth major paradigm shift which has occurred in production. The first revolution came with the introduction of water and steam powered machines, the second with electrically powered mass production and assembly lines, and the third saw computers and automation further streamline processes.
The fourth industrial revolution is seeing those same processes now brought online, as digital technology such as the Internet of Things connects machines and computers like never before.
Industry 4.0 for Logistics
The most clear and obvious application of Industry 4.0 technology to the logistics business is Internet of Things technology. With connected sensors installed in trucks and shipping containers, real time data can be fed back to base allowing for monitoring and maintenance. Data can include temperature, motion, weight, and more. With many medical products requiring carefully maintained conditions this is of particular importance in this industry.
At the other end of this system is the enormous amount of data which is generated by this type of technology. With the employment of data scientists, the analysis of this data can lead to improvements and efficiencies throughout the logistics chain. Shipping times can be optimised by identifying where slowdowns and delays occur.
“The new age of IoT is an exciting one for logistics,” writes Victoria Greene for Iotforall.com. “With so many opportunities to streamline chain management and optimize every element of production, the possibilities really are endless. Customers too will see the benefits with easy-to-track deliveries, an improved shopping experience and greater rewards. All in all, the dawn of the IoT will bring with it many changes in the future – we’re just getting warmed up!”
Another new technology which Sanofi is actively pursuing is blockchain. For the uninitiated, blockchain technology allows anonymous parties to carry out secure and private transactions without the need for a central agency to verify them. While the term “transaction” is often used, blockchain can be used for any kind of data exchange, not just financial ones.
Each packet of information (or block) which is added to the blockchain contains data about all the previous entries. This means that any attempt to manipulate the chain will become immediately apparent, as it will also change information in every link. It’s this transparency which grants blockchains their much-valued security, and removes the need for the central authority.
In pharmaceutical supply chains, blockchain has many potential applications – from ensuring the security of medical devices to the safe transfer of medical records, facilitating more efficient clinical trials, and getting speedier approval of new drugs. The technology can also increase cost transparency – essential in pharma – and prevent counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain.
With an estimated one in ten medical products in developing countries being counterfeited, the problem is a serious one. With blockchain, however, a system can be developed which allows medical solutions to be tracked from production to patient. Therefore, it would be nearly impossible to sneak fake medicine into the supply chain undetected, as it would lack the necessary blockchain authorisation.
“Blockchain is really about industrialising trust,” said Sanofi’s Chief Data Officer, Milind Kamkolkar. “We’re seeing consortiums forming already to deal with this [counterfeit drugs] issue.”
Industry 4.0 and blockchain technology are set to be hot topics at LogiPharma 2020, in April, at the Nice Acropolis, France. Download the agenda today for more information and insights.