As the demand for more efficient and compliant practices grows, pharmaceutical companies are looking into building stronger networks.

The year 2020 has posed many challenges for the pharmaceutical industry. According to a report by the consultancy group McKinsey, pharmaceutical companies have demonstrated strong organisational resilience in the COVID-19 crisis.

As companies are trying to keep up the production of key drugs in uncertain circumstances and many are racing to develop a Coronavirus vaccine at an unprecedented speed, it is crucial that the operations must run as smoothly as possible. Strong supply chains have become more important than ever.

“The service needs to be uninterrupted”, says Taru Jokinen, Director, Service Management at Lindström, a company that provides cleanroom services and basic workwear for the pharmaceutical industry in Finland, India, China, and Russia. In addition to the previously mentioned countries, the pharmaceutical industry is in focus also in Turkey and Slovenia. “The role of the garment is as important as the raw material for the medicine. If it’s not there, the entire manufacturing process stops.”

Outsourcing means there’s less to worry about

When companies are looking into outsourcing services, their main concerns are compliance and data integrity, says Jokinen. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most regulated industries in the world and keeping up with the requirements takes up time and resources.

“For a company, it’s an asset if they have a dedicated and reliable partner who follows the field and proactively develops processes accordingly.”

The industry-wide Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) ensures that products are manufactured and controlled according to quality standards. For garments, this means that all items must be accounted for at all times.

“We need to be able to view and validate the entire life cycle of the garment. At Lindström, we use smart digital technology to provide companies with an item-level audit trail. The data shows us how long the garment has been used and when and where in our service cycle it has been scanned,” Jokinen explains.

However, the data accumulated by the process is used for more than compliance purposes. When it’s crunched and analysed, it tells both Lindström and the customer a great deal about the flow of the products and gives clues on how to optimise the process.

“The main thing is that the customer has one less thing to worry about. They can focus on their core business and be assured that there’s always the right amount of clean, hygienic, and safe garments to use.”

Towards an efficient and collaborative future

According to the McKinsey report, pharma’s future – as well as the way into the post-COVID world – is all about making the most of new technology and building networks.

To navigate uncertain times and cope with changing requirements, you need ecosystem thinking, Jokinen states. As the requirements are becoming more stringent on all fronts and across all industries, no one has the resources to take care of everything alone.

“When you need to do things more efficiently and sustainably, it’s clear that you won’t make it happen all alone. You need to, as we say in Finnish, ‘lyödä viisaat päät yhteen’, put smart heads together. In this, finding the right partner is key.”


Partners ensure an edge in a competitive market

Currently, Asia controls roughly a fifth of the global pharma market. There are some differences between the market, as Manas Kumar, Strategic Marketing and Business Development Director at Lindström, explains.

“India is catering to generics and low-cost, high-volume products, and thus a cost-efficient solution is more welcomed. Whereas in China, the export market is more focused on biotech and biosimilars, which are a high-value product, and hence the requirements are more stringent.”

In these highly competitive markets, outsourcing services enables pharma companies to focus on their core business and drive innovation, Kumar states. Lindström has 12 laundry facilities in India and 8 in China, servicing almost the entire region.

“Traditionally, a lot of companies have relied on their in-house laundry facilities. Nowadays, when new pharmaceutical facilities are being built, there are no laundry facilities included in the designs at all.”

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