3 Top Emerging Trends in APAC Pharma Logistics

The Asia-Pacific market is driven by the increasing demand for medicines from an aging population, scientific and technological advances, and economic growth of emerging countries such as India and China. But what are the top three trends?

Global technology research and advisory company Technavio’s latest report on the pharmaceutical logistics market in APAC provides an analysis of the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2017-2021.

Beyond the aging population, technological advances, economic growth of emerging countries, and trade liberalization, the report also pointed to the 2017 patent expirations of leading drugs, such as Azilect, Tamiflu, Cancidas, and Invanz, which are causing a shift of sales from the original brand manufacturer to generic drug manufacturers.

The top three emerging trends driving the pharmaceutical logistics market in APAC, according to Technavio transportation and logistics research analysts are:

• Innovation in pharmaceutical packaging and technology in cold chain logistics

• Huge scope in emerging countries and shift toward biological drugs

• Adoption of automated storage and retrieval systems

Innovation in cold chain logistics

“Reusable containers are being increasingly used in pharmaceutical logistics to reduce waste,” says Shakti Jhakar, a lead analyst at Technavio for research on logistics. “Some companies are encouraging the use of green packaging materials. For instance, World Courier launched a new packaging solution for pallet-sized shipments known as Cocoon in 2016. This packaging will reduce the transportation costs and maintain a temperature to increase the shelf life of drugs and medicines by 40%, as compared with other products.”

Cold chain carriers have invested in onboard equipment, built into refrigeration units to track temperature and location. This also makes data available to 3PLs and shippers in real time, offering increased visibility and the opportunity to mitigate or prevent loss. Some shippers use removable sensors, which independently track the temperature levels of their cold cargo, generally used for high-value goods and international shipments.

Shift toward biological drugs

“The cold storage market in emerging economies, such as India and China, is still in its developing phase,” says Jhakar. “However, certain challenges faced by the cold chain vendors in the emerging economies, such as the lack of proper infrastructure, presence of minimal logistic support, lack of proper warehousing facilities, lack of skilled workers, and limited presence of service providers, have led to a substantial wastage of pharmaceutical products in these countries.”

Proper cold storage facilities and cold chain logistics can reduce pharmaceutical drug wastage and health-related issues in these emerging economies. There has also been a continual growth in the organized retail sector in these regions, which has increased the demand for cold chain logistics facilities. The market is witnessing dynamic growth in developing nations, especially in China, India and Singapore.

Automated storage and retrieval systems

The adoption and use of automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) is one of the major trends in the pharmaceutical logistics companies in APAC, such as Daifuku and Dematic. AS/RS are inventory management systems that are widely used in manufacturing and distribution centers. AS/RS are specially required by temperature controlled warehouses, where temperatures decrease up to -0.5°F.

AS/RS also helps in the effective utilization of space and reduces energy consumption and labor costs by more than 50%. AS/RS has an integrated structure of racks and cranes that enables the vertical and horizontal storage of items and optimum use of space (up to the ceiling), creating greater storage.

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