LLamasoft Supply Chain Blog

← Back to Blog

Supply Chain Innovations Elevates Global Immunization Coverage

By Mike Hemp  April 24, 2019

Ground-breaking supply chain techniques are contributing to more children being immunized worldwide than ever before. An immunization supply chain involves the actual physical movement of immunizations from manufacturers to health facilities for routine and ‘campaign’ delivery. When we think about supply chains in low and middle-income countries, the conversations center around the lack of resources. However, there have been many advances in these differently-resourced settings from which other supply chains can adopt inventive systems.

Here are a few key areas of innovation that are being utilized by immunization supply chains throughout the world.

Planning Based on a Digital Twin Informed by Novel Data Sources

Health-related supply chains in low and middle-income countries pose many unique challenges that data can help expose – such as lack of storage, lack of trained personnel, lack of electricity, decentralization of data, etc. As with any supply chain, enabling a digital twin to run risk-analyses and what-if-scenarios can result in many benefits such as faster and more reliable delivery, reduced delivery distances, right-sized inventory, and more. Many organizations are banding together to leverage global health supply chain data to improve and save lives. Data points such as RFID, GPS, and temperature tracking can provide valuable insights to those committed to improving supply chain coverage and can also lessen the impact in dire scenarios such as natural disasters or medicinal recalls.

Leveraging Mobile Phone Technology

Mobile phones are changing the game for all supply chains, but particularly in low and middle-income countries. Part of the reason is that mobile phones can be more common than access to electricity in certain areas. Additionally, mobile phones can lead to improved inventory replenishment cycles, reduced turnarounds, improved access to information, and flow of data and communication. Through improved data practices and increasing collaborations and partnerships – stakeholders now have more visibility into their supply systems than ever before.

Innovative Transportation Models

LLamasoft proudly partnered with Zipline on the design of systems for the delivery of blood for transfusions via drone – this mode is also utilized for immunizations. Also, global health supply chains are now known for leveraging ride-sharing techniques and motorcycles to speed up the transportation time for lab samples and immunization deliveries.

Harnessing Sustainable Practices to Reduce Costs

The rise of solar power in low and middle-income countries is helping reduce the cost and carbon footprint of immunization supply chains, a strategy traditional supply chains could certainly adopt. Also, innovative packaging can drastically lower costs and reduce the amount of waste produced by an immunization supply chain. Although reduced mileage is primarily viewed as a means to cut down on costs and turnaround time, it can also result in a positive impact on the environment. The major takeaway is these vital supply chains are taking time to consider the impact on the environment while improving service.

Understanding local context is key to finding the right solutions for delivering vaccines to children all around the world. Factors such as informal markets, the abundance of bikes and motos vs. trucks, and existing reverse flows are important to understand. LLamasoft’s Global Impact Team works with numerous entities and organizations to understand these nuances and leverage our software to improve the supply chains that deliver life-saving materials such as immunizations and diagnostic tests.

Necessity drives innovation. Although immunization coverage is at an all-time high, millions of children do not receive life-saving vaccines. As aspirations for full coverage continue to grow, systems from the west may not be the most viable option for our future. Continue learning about innovative supply chains on LLamasoft’s LinkedIn and Twitter.