We’ve seen many instances of pharma companies quickly retooling manufacturing to start producing products that are in high demand. This ability to repurpose capacity provides a model for business agility going forward. End-to-end visibility across production and supply is essential. This includes real-time production monitoring systems and advanced planning and scheduling tools in manufacturing, as well as the ability to track and trace product – from materials to final product – as it passes along the supply chain. This requires an enterprise platform that connects the company with its suppliers, customers and partners to enable the real-time flow of information and transactions to create flexibility and robustness. However, accelerating product innovation and manufacturing requires more than identifying capacity; it also requires engineering, design, production, and distribution of resources. Overall, it is vital for patients to receive the medications they need without having to deal with stress or roadblocks along the way. Although the pharmaceutical supply chain face various challenges, companies like Mankind Pharma are taking the necessary steps to ensure a smooth process from manufacturing of products to delivery to patients. Excerpts from a recent interactionof Upamanyu Borah with Bharat Bhushan Rathi, Head of Logistics atone of India’s leading pharma company.

Genesis and Market Position

Mankind is the fastest growing pharmaceutical company from more than a decade and listed among top pharma companies in the Indian Formulation Market. In its 26 years of journey, since its inception, promoters (Juneja Brothers—R C Juneja and Rajeev Juneja) attached themselves to the market and customers, critically realising the need to provide solutions—filling the vacuum—by offering good quality pharma and medicinal products at affordable rates in a developing market like India, which is now the world’s third largest. The company’s approach reflects in its mission statement which states “to be able to provide cost-effective, innovation based on superior quality pharmaceutical products across the globe that improves the lives of the patients.”

Racing towards a turnover of USD 1 Billion, Mankind’s success is attributed to the out-of-box thinking capabilities and strategies of its experienced management team and field force.

COVID-19 and The Supply Chain

This one-of-a-kind crisis that takes over countries and economies once in a century is so unanticipated. No one is aware or can prepare themselves for such a disruption. But, a company’s strength can be rightly judged in such abnormal situations when the need to evaluate market position and resiliency of operations is being adequately put to test.

Mankind Pharma stands rock solid with the character of “Go Getter”—striving to diminish the gap between demand and supply in a volatile market. Our organisational behaviour to serve Mankind speaks volumes about our tireless commitment to quality that has earned the trust of our valued customers.

Adaptability and Flexibility

With each day passing, we are improving our system. It’s an on-going process. During and after the pandemic, we implemented the CONTROL TOWER system—a decentralised mechanism for each critical process objective to debottleneck show stopper processes. We implemented and embedded enhanced capability into the ERP system to make it robust, reliable, and efficient and help meet increased demand for personalisation and improve a broad range of business processes. There was also a focus on making systems ON LINE (i.e. minimum human intervention). To challenge current supply chain processes, we designed a WEB so that any vibration in the network can be cached immediately and action is taken with no time lag.

Strategic Initiatives for Better Supply of Products

We completely revamped our processes. In fact, process upgradation programmes are still going. Generally, in the case of pharma companies, there is a unidirectional feeding flow {Production > Depot > POS (CFA)}. But, since the pandemic have no demand pattern and we have peaks in different time across different regions, we developed a system where product can be moved from nearby POS (CFAs) if there is any non-catered demand. Significantly, this solution helped us in Linear Distribution of Inventory. During the pandemic, when companies were struggling to distribute their products in the market, we were in a comfortable situation, ensuring availability of our products even in remote areas.

Mapping and Integrating Value

We are not 100% done with improvements but certainly we come a long way in last 2 years. We are using so many IT solutions — almost in each function which is not only enabling us to achieve desirable results but also decreasing human efforts in doing repetitive/non-value added works. I believe, these are the footsteps towards creating a RESILIENT and FUTURISTIC supply chain.

Establishing Coordination

At present, we are connected with an ERP systems solution designed internally. Disruptions like the COVID pandemic didn’t affect much because we have integrated system which not only depends on the manpower but on processes that converge at one platform making it easy for us to control operations and not exhibit holistic decision making to achieve the desired result.

Meeting the sense of Supply and Demand

We work on throughput efficiency a lot (i.e. when there is a sudden jump in demand, we can cater without lag/delay/backlog. This is most importantly because we have designed the system on Theory of Constraints (TOC)—the scientific approach to improvement that helps us to identify the most important limiting factor (i.e., constraint) that stands in the way of achieving a goal and then systematically improving that constraint until it is no longer the limiting factor.

Logistics—Essential to Strategy

There is no question on whether logistics (Storing and Distribution) is the backbone of any company—with robust operations of distribution to capture market, backed by motivated and skilled sales teams. Planning, Distribution, Transportation and Warehousing are all part of logistics operations and they need to be in sync to maintain efficiency at all steps. I believe all decision-based work controlled by a company and all transactional (repeated) must be outsourced to experts to support value-focussed thinking for improving business and operations.

Quantifying Logistics Services

Whenever we are finalising any LSP, apart from commercials, we validate his capabilities (i.e. how his strengths can be useful for the company) and not only that, we also see and review testimonials of the service provider’s present customers (in some cases, we also discuss and consult with them).

However, as a useful rule of thumb, we keep a back up of and for everything and anything required to support the continuity of logistics and delivery of products. Yes, it comes with cost but for all critical operations we have this policy.

Guiding Backend Performance

We are driving activities on Indicators (I mean KPIs) and their online monitoring (not post facto after a month), any deviation is corrected immediately. Not only that, we also have authority matrix which makes this even more agile, because decisions are taken quickly and enable fast execution.

Trends that are Reshaping the Future

Going forward, I believe Direct to Customer (D2C) will be a buzzword (i.e. anything and everything at doorsteps or Direct Selling which makes even the entire logistics network more complex.

Direct-to-consumer marketing puts the control of the buying process back into the hands of the manufacturers. The company is responsible for creating a superior product, marketing it to their target audience, delivering the product or service to their customers and establishing a relationship with them.

The end customer is probably not aware of the steps their product takes on its journey from warehouse to delivery. Now that next-day delivery is arguably the standard in retail as a whole, customers may not even realize how much D2C has disrupted the landscape.

Additionally, success factor of a company depends on BIG DATA usage (i.e. how companies can use AI to predict demand in a region). To make this happen, fast information flow (Real-Time) and expedited decision making is required at each step of the supply chain.

Most critically, any sector, regardless of Pharma, although it’s a highly governed/regulated market), will have to strengthen its customer feedback mechanism.

Lastly, on a softer note, at the moment, there is high deficiency of skilled people in the industry, so to all youngsters I say ‘You have a bright future’. ALL THE BEST!!

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