KUALA LUMPUR: Pharmaniaga Bhd has forked out about RM20mil over the last four years to fully-digitalise its logitistic supply chain which has been useful in the distribution of 200,000 Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines nationwide so far.
With millions of Covid-19 doses needed in the country, group managing director Zulkarnain Md Eusope (pic below) said digitalising the supply chain would potentially reduce the wastage of the vaccines.
“This is why the group has been spending on digitalising the entire supply chain in the past few years to avoid financial losses going forward.
“Without digitalisation, there could be potential delay in the delivery of the vaccines caused by unstable temperature and mishandling. We have also implemented systems such as real-time tracking of our transport vehicles using GPS and Internet of Things or IoT-based temperature sensors, ” he told StarBiz.
The group is likely to complete the supply of 12 million doses to the Health Ministry’s facilities by November.
Having said that, Zulkarnain noted that vaccines are sensitive to temperature outside its recommended range.
Notably, vaccine transportation is more complex than other drugs as any temperature breach will affect its efficacy.
It is important to note that financial losses from vaccines exposed to temperatures outside its range is a whopping US$34.1bil (RM141bil) per year, according to International Air Transport Association.
Zulkarnain said the implementation of digital technologies has improved the group’s efficiency in planning, delivery, managing and monitoring not only the Covid-19 vaccines, but also other drugs.
“By introducing IoT in the warehouse and logistics operations, Pharmaniaga will become more efficient and will be able to increase productivity in line with the government’s Industry 4.0 policy which aims to transform the manufacturing sector and related services towards digitalisation, ” he explained.
Meanwhile, Zulkarnain said that the pharmaceutical giant is looking forward to the government’s decision on the policy for private hospitals to purchase the Covid-19 vaccines as it has received requests to supply to state governments, healthcare providers and government-linked companies. “Once the government lays out a proper process for us to supply the vaccines, we will do it in accordance with the framework, ” he added.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and the Health Ministry are expected to meet this week to decide on the policy and framework for private hospitals to purchase vaccines directly from suppliers.Moving forward, Pharmaniaga is on track to fill and finish five types of vaccines: a plan that was initiated in 2018.
“With all the agreements with the reputable vaccine partners in place, our facility is on track to be the world’s first halal vaccine plant, ” said Zulkarnain.