Connect with us


Iceland’s Controlant on advancing zero-waste pharma supply chains



Anna Karlsdóttir, chief quality officer at Controlant
Deeply involved in revolutionising the way pharmaceutical supply chains operate, Iceland-based Controlant is on a mission to create systems that produce zero waste for the world’s leading drug makers and the environment. Here, we sat down with chief quality officer Anna Karlsdóttir to find out how.


Anna, could you tell us a bit more about your background?

I’m Icelandic and have a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I’ve been in the tech industry for my whole career, working as a consulting engineer in designing a geothermal power plant in Iceland, a software engineer developing solutions for mobile phones, a technical director for a company developing and manufacturing energy management system for seagoing vessels.

What inspired you to join Controlant?

The opportunity to work in a new industry that is disrupting one of the world’s most critical supply chains, and to be part of a company with a clear purpose and a clear vision where sustainability is a driving force inspired me to join Controlant.

I wanted to take on a new challenge, and with the team at Controlant, we are contributing to tackling one of the most pressing issues of our time: climate change.

The fact that we do that through constant innovation and product development to bring new solutions to the market for the pharma supply chain is even more motivating.

How would you describe Controlant in a few words?

Controlant is a global leader in the digital transformation of pharma supply chains. We empower the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to reduce waste and ensure patient safety through real-time visibility and digital transformation.

Our vision is to deliver zero-waste supply chains for our partners and the planet through digitalisation, automation and transformation of the pharma supply chain.

We do this through our pharma-validated real-time visibility platform, advanced IoT devices, and 24/7 services which are trusted by many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and logistics service providers to track and monitor global shipments of medicines and vaccines.

Our solutions enable them to make their operations significantly more reliable, cost-effective and sustainable. Ultimately, our solutions help get life-saving medicines to more patients, curing more diseases.

What makes Controlant different?

Our unwavering commitment to our vision of zero-waste pharma supply chains, our dedicated focus on the pharma industry, and our incredibly talented, and dedicated team is what sets us apart, and drives our success.

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. Our greatest impact is through our solutions and our collaboration with our customers in the pharma industry.

By gaining real-time visibility into their supply chains, enterprise pharma companies and logistics service providers can significantly improve efficiency, reduce the need for safety stocks, and ultimately ensure that their products reach their destination on time—safely and sustainably.

Our dedication to our zero-waste vision is also apparent in the choice we have made to offer reusable IoT devices instead of single-use devices. This saves the planet millions of IoT devices in emissions every year.

We apply reverse logistics to retrieve our devices from out in the field and bring them back to our service centres so that they can be serviced and used again for another shipment of medicines to another destination.

With 30 per cent of all medicines wasted every year, we see there is a clear opportunity to improve the environmental footprint and reduce waste within pharma. This is why we have firmly set our focus on this essential industry, and as a result of that decision, we are fully compliant with the required pharma regulations.

Our focus on the pharma industry for our real-time visibility solution sets us apart from other providers and has allowed us to develop unique capabilities and deep knowledge that translate into our innovative solutions and offerings to the pharma industry.

You launched Controlant almost two decades ago. How was the pharma industry back then?

The pharma industry is one of the world’s most critical industries, offering treatments that improve health and save the lives of millions of people around the world. While the industry is incredibly innovative in developing new medicines, it is less advanced when it comes to digital maturity, including in its supply chains.

Pharma supply chains are, rightly so, subject to strict regulations to guarantee the quality and integrity of products – there are multiple processes in the pharma supply chain that in the past have been manual, time-intensive, and inefficient.

As a result, the pharma industry has suffered a notable gap in the visibility of its supply chain, with a lack of one single source of consistent and reliable data.

How has the sector changed since?

The COVID-19 global pandemic was an important turning point in many ways when it comes to digitalisation and automation of pharma supply chains.

Just as the world rushed to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, pharma companies and their partners also needed to ensure that a vaccine, once ready, could be distributed not just to hospitals around the world but to health clinics and people everywhere.

Controlant partnered with the Pfizer-BioNTech and US government and took part in Operation Warp Speed for real-time monitoring and supply chain visibility of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine during the pandemic. Through Controlant’s solutions, over six billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been safely delivered with over 99 per cent success rate.

The pandemic went to show the need and the impact that Controlant’s solutions could have on pharma supply chains. Readiness to embrace automation and digitalisation is steadily increasing, particularly as pharma companies introduce in increasing measure medicine, such as personalised treatments and cell and gene therapy that are sensitive and complex and require even greater integrity and efficiency when it comes to transportation and logistics.

At the end of the day, the COVID pandemic caused a mindset shift for many in the industry, embracing technology as an enabler for more efficient, safe and sustainable pharma supply chains.

With greater pledges from pharmaceutical companies to reduce waste and improve long-term sustainability, how far are we from achieving a zero-waste pharma supply chain?

Every step counts towards our vision of zero-waste pharma supply chains. We have a 99 per cent success rate in the delivery of pharmaceutical products, and we monitor over one million boxes to thousands of global destinations every year.

The impact of more shipments reaching their destination without fail on the first try is significant. It translates to less safety stock, and reduced emissions from additional transportation, which in turn translates to less resources required and a reduced environmental impact.

By opting for Controlant’s reusable loggers, instead of single-use ones, 92 per cent of emissions have been saved for pharma. Put differently, avoided emissions from electronic waste by opting for re-usable IoT devices amounting to 33,615 tonnes of CO2eq.

What role could Controlant play in helping the industry achieve this goal?

The next frontier in real-time visibility for pharma supply chains is full end-to-end visibility, all the way from production down to patient through monitoring and tracking of medicines and vaccines at the unit or asset level.

Our existing solutions have brought much-needed visibility at the pallet level, and our latest innovation, the Saga Card, is designed to bring visibility down to secondary packing, including cases and cartons.

By providing the pharma industry with end-to-end visibility into the supply chain, they will have the visibility that allows them to effectively manage inventory, and significantly improve the efficiency of their operations.

Saga Card is an important milestone on our innovation journey and in the digital transformation of pharma supply chains. The credit-card-sized IoT device will serve as an enabler in delivering the next generation of increasingly complex and sensitive treatments to millions of people around the world and bringing us closer to realising our vision of zero-waste pharma supply chains.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trending stories