Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Run out of pain killers again?

30.09.2008
Research scientists at SINTEF have developed a control dashboard for the pharmaceuticals industry. This enables all pharmacies, wholesalers and manufacturers to check where products are in the supply chain, availability, what stocks the neighbouring pharmacy has and the future prognoses.

When a packet of pills is scanned at the pharmacy checkout today, information is simultaneously transferred to the wholesaler about the remaining stocks on the shelves, which in turn results in a stock order. Several Norwegian pharmacies have such automatic supply systems, and it takes only 24 hours before out of stock products are back on the pharmacy shelves.

Automatic for the entire industry
“For a pharmaceutical manufacturer on the other hand, in the worst case it can take three months before they are able to supply products that are out of stock,” says Heidi Dreyer at SINTEF Technology and Society. “For essential medicines, such as with the bird flu and severe influenza epidemics, there can be advantages in cutting this time down.”

“And time is money,” adds her colleague Torbjørn Netland. “The pharmaceutical companies themselves will profit by being better able to supply products faster.”

When the research scientists commenced the AUTOMED project three years ago, they wanted to incorporate this demand and develop a system where automatic product supplies could apply to the entire pharmaceutical industry, including the pharmaceutical manufacturers. The project was commissioned by pharmaceutical wholesaler Holtung AS, which wanted a closer collaboration with customers and suppliers in the supply chain.

The new control dashboard has been developed in collaboration with Oracle Norway, while the three-year AUTOMED project is funded by the Research Council of Norway.

Backdrop
In recent years, strong deregulation and commercialisation has led to a substantial increase in the number of pharmacies in Norway. Today, small pharmacies, such as Apotek1, Vitus Apotek and Alliance, are located in most shopping malls. The ownership is dominated by three international corporations with head offices in Germany and Great Britain.

The more actors that have entered the playing field, the harder it is to have an overview of products and availability. The partitions between the various actors have also become tight – and this has not invited collaboration.

Control dashboard
With the new dashboard developed by SINTEF and Oracle, everything that occurs in the line between manufacturer, wholesaler and pharmacy becomes visible.

The images and information appearing on the computer screen depend on who the user is. While a pharmacy employee in Trondheim will see availability at their own and neighbouring pharmacies, a wholesaler like Holtung can search by counties, select a pharmacy and see what orders have been placed with the manufacturer and what are expected to be the best and worst sellers next year.

“You can see the current demand,” says Dreyer. “If a health worker comes to the pharmacy and wants to buy 20 packets of nitro glycerine and the pharmacy only has 10 packets, an order currently needs to be placed with the wholesaler. With a control dashboard, it’s easy to see that the neighbouring pharmacy has stocks of the product and the customer can get it far quicker.”

Raising service and operation
The Director of Logistics at Holtung AS, John-Erik Tønnessen, believes the new flow of information will provide a better basis for decision-making as well as improved customer service.

“We service 140 pharmacies throughout Norway, and it’s all about having the right products available at any given time,” says Tønnessen. “By supplying information down the supply chain about product availability and how the products are moving, we can improve customer service levels as well as operation.”

“This will work particularly well at the rear of the chain. With information about what the true demand is at any given time, pharmaceutical manufacturers won’t need to have huge inventories. If the turnover of one type of medicine suddenly increases, the manufacturer can quickly make the necessary readjustments.”

Trust
Even though the new control tool will increase the collaboration between the independent actors and could provide greater efficiency and profits for all parties, the industry is in no real hurry.

“This is an industry with traditionally strong actors who are afraid to give away more information than they get in return,” says Netland. “Trust needs to be established before a tool like this can start being used.”

Tønnessen adds in conclusion: “It remains to be seen what the real effects are and to convince the surrounding companies about the benefits. But we will continue working to make cases and test out the system to document the effect and demonstrate savings.”

Aase Dragland | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sintef.com

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today
27.04.2017 | Technische Universität Ilmenau

nachricht Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>