Pharma logistics sector witnesses increased activity due to growing demand from home-based diagnostics: Nishith Rastogi

Shardul Nautiyal, MumbaiSaturday, August 8, 2020, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Pharma logistics sector has seen increased activity in the past few months fuelled by growing demand from home-based diagnostics sector. Home-based diagnostics has seen a huge uptick as due to COVID-19, customers prefer to get their diagnostic tests done at home, according to industry experts. Overall, the pharma industry has seen an increase in activity and has streamlined its supply chain to cater to this increased demand.

Commenting on the trend further, Nishith Rastogi, CEO and co-founder, Locus said, “Even COVID-19 tests are now being done at home. Over the past few months, this sector has adjusted to the astronomical rise in demand and has successfully catered to increasing customer requests. Traditional pharma majors have managed to ensure a steady flow of their products, thanks to favourable government regulations. While online pharmacy players faced hiccups initially, they too have seen increased demand for their services. Online players have now become a mainstay as customers have now gotten accustomed to ordering medicines online.”

Locus is a technology platform that optimizes logistics for companies globally including the pharmaceutical sector.

In the current crisis, Locus’ Slot management feature can help companies to take in customer requests for at-home diagnostics services while keeping in mind the time taken to complete requests and travel to the next customer’s destination. This helps in streamlining the whole backend for phlebotomists and avoids order clashes or delays.

Also, Locus’ zone-based routing, wherein one can ‘drag and draw’ zones to help with better routing, can help delivery executives avoid COVID-19 containment zones while delivering packages. Since containment zones are dynamic in nature, a tool like this can help in increasing the safety of the delivery executive as you can keep updating your delivery zones as per requirements.

These days, companies are also experimenting with their delivery models like Direct-to-Consumer (D2C). In the pharma use case, it is from a factory to a retail store without a distributor in between. Locus can help in planning the entire logistics to facilitate this delivery model too.

Talking about Locus role in facilitating a smooth last-mile delivery experience for pharma companies, Rastogi explained that Locus can help pharma companies plan logistics right from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep. Locus can decide the fleet size needed for daily operations, the optimum route to take for your deliveries while considering business, operational, and rider constraints. With Locus, you can reduce the costs involved in the whole process, while delivering on time every time for the best end customer experience.

Using Locus’ control tower, the pharma company can have full visibility of on-ground operations. This enables a high First Attempt Delivery Rate (FADR), which increases trust and customer loyalty. FADR is a direct indication of successful deliveries made in the first attempt. FADR can reduce costs involved in executing multiple deliveries (for the same order), storage of packages, and management of executives.  

Talking about the challenges, he said “Managing demand with a lesser workforce is a major issue especially in COVID-19 times. Another important requirement is managing both on-demand and scheduled deliveries in one plan. Locus can help optimize in both these scenarios and bring in the much-needed efficiency.”

On the customer end, Locus can help provide visibility on the package with track links. Also, Locus’ Electronic Point of Delivery (E-POD) capabilities can help in executing contactless deliveries wherein the delivery executive can share the photo of the delivered goods as a proof of execution.  Locus can assign on-demand and bulk orders, reschedule and cancel orders on-the-go and come up with routing plans in such a way that companies can deliver on customer-preferred time slots.

In order to optimize logistics and save cost for companies during these times, Locus brings in efficiency, transparency and consistency in logistics operations through Deep tech and AI to help across all legs of logistics operations. From route optimization for delivery riders to analysis to generating ‘what-if’ scenarios to test out various business conditions or constraints, AI can play a pivotal role.

He explained, “In this COVID-19 world, it is crucial for any pharma brand to run multiple ‘what-if’ scenarios to ensure an agile logistics backend that can respond to any situation. ‘What-if’ scenarios are basically running various simulations on a digital twin, which is a digital model of the brand’s on-ground supply chain. These simulations can help you find answers to questions like- what if my warehouse is in location A as compared to location B, would it ease my supply chain issues; can I service ‘X’ area on all days or should I do it on alternate days to reduce logistics cost or can I use five large temperature-controlled trucks instead of 11 minivans, etc.”

“We are looking to increase our product range to address more use cases and ensure that we can automate the entire complex decision-making process while transporting any package or human from any point A to point B. We have a Locus Labs initiative which is our tinkering space where we build products to solve inefficiencies in people and fleet movement,” Rastogi concluded.