Few supply chains have the same regulations and rigors as the pharmaceutical ones, especially in a world still reeling from a pandemic. However, just like any other industry, pharmaceuticals also require exemplary warehouse management. Without it, there will be validation and compliance issues, mistakes, and delays within the supply chain. Fortunately, those issues that the pharmaceutical industry regularly faces can be eliminated with a warehouse management system (WMS).
Why Use a WMS For Pharmaceuticals?
Warehouse management systems were designed to help distributors in many industries handle, ship, and sell goods more efficiently. For the pharmaceutical and medical industries, a WMS assists in the same way while offering support for the industries’ unique circumstances. Not only is there a high demand for pharmaceuticals, but there are also tight controls on distribution. Storage requirements, audits, and expired medications are just some of the challenges the industry faces.
For that reason, a WMS can benefit the pharmaceutical supply chain by picking up some of the slack—and automating it.
Compliance With Laws
In order to maintain compliance with many rules and regulations from both national and international organizations, pharmaceutical shipments must be given unique tracking barcodes, expiry dates, batch numbers, and serial numbers. Doing this manually and attempting to keep track of all this information is going to be taxing without a WMS.
For example, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) requires digital information on pharmaceutical inventories (including those held by wholesale distributors) to be sent to suppliers, partners, and governing bodies. Utilizing a WMS can help you meet some of these demands and run a more reliable business.
A major issue within pharmaceutical distribution right now is improper storage. Maintaining the optimal conditions for different prescription drugs can be difficult when there is no rhyme or reason for the layout of the warehouse. With a WMS, you can analyze the details of each product and then select the best locations for those items. Furthermore, a WMS can keep track of equipment and provide alerts when something goes wrong, such as the climate-controlled room getting too hot.
One of the most integral parts of the pharmaceutical supply chain is the date of expiration. Since some materials can become hazardous when expired, it is important to keep that information on hand. A WMS can automatically record and update information on product location, expiry date, and so on to help you optimize your warehouse. You can then implement FIFO (first-in, first-out) to move goods more safely. Plus, you can save money, since you are meeting demand and ensuring no stock goes wasted.
Having a WMS can benefit a warehouse in many ways. The greatest advantage, however, is the level of customization you have with a WMS. Take Agility WMS from Wisys, for instance. Depending on the size and scale of your business, you can start with Agility Essentials for basic functions. Depending on the needs, the software can be personalized and more capabilities can be added on. Plus, Agility is fully scalable, so as your business grows, so too does your WMS.
Fewer Security Risks
Are you worried about theft? Many WMS have security built-in to protect sensitive data from being preyed upon by cybercriminals. Within the warehouse, being able to track item movements in real-time can also reduce the risk of theft. Automating processes like sales orders, item validation and tracking, labeling, and even communications to couriers and distributors can also prevent mislabeling.
Some WMS have functions that allow you to connect to other security devices around the facility. You can see who logs into and from where, for example. Furthermore, you can log every step you make when disposing of expired goods or when an issue arises along the supply chain.
The heart of any WMS is inventory tracking. At the end of the day, multiple industries use WMS to reduce errors and accelerate order fulfillment. Pharmaceutical and medical supply distributors can use WMS the same way. Not only does a WMS optimize existing processes, but it can also eliminate existing challenges, too. That helps the business position itself to meet new demands with ease.
For example, a WMS can be implemented to keep track of the expiration date on prescription drugs. With lot numbers, a product can be picked from the lot before it expires and sent onward to the customer. During shipping, the supplier can use the WMS to pull up information on the lot number, invoice, customer details, amount, and more.
For medical supply distributors, the slotting functions of a WMS can help accelerate processes even more. By tracking item movement, distributors can look at which SKUs are more popular and move them into a more favorable position within the warehouse.
Looking For a Flexible WMS Solution?
Warehouse management systems benefit the pharmaceutical supply chain in a vast number of ways. Though your pharmaceutical warehouse or distribution center may have complex needs, a WMS can automate them and make your business more efficient. Wisys can help you optimize your processes with our Agility WMS. Give us a call today at 770-955-3530 to learn how you can streamline your pharmaceutical business.