Today, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and life sciences sectors have emerged as the new hot favourite with the service industry and logistics companies are rushing in to offer tailor-made solutions.

The Indian logistics and transport industry has huge potential growth prospects for local and foreign operators alike.  Indian logistics industry is expected to reach a market size of over $125 billion in year 2010. According to Datamonitor, outsourced logistics is slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 16% from 2007-10.

A liberalising market, massive investment in infrastructure, increasing levels of disposable income and dynamic manufacturing and retail sectors are combining to produce a market environment which could one day rival the fast moving Chinese economy.

The lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry is new product innovation and delivery. The Industry focuses on R&D efforts to develop the product and gain approval that the supply-chain management activities related to making the product available to providers and patients can seem an afterthought.

The Pharma products require Temperature Controlled Logistics. It is important to have safe and secure delivery of time -and temperature-sensitive drugs, diagnostic specimens, samples from clinical trials and other life sciences products. The packaging, constructed from recyclable low-density polyethylene must be environmentally friendly and cost effective to handle and dispose. The Temperature Controlled Packaging should ensure safe and compliant transport in cooled, deep frozen or protected ambient states.

Using different cooling mediums the packaging should deliver temperature controlled cool chains for varying distribution times ranging from 2-8°C (up to 72 hours), -20°C (up to 120 hours) or protected ambient environments (2-25°C for up to 105 hours).

Supply-chain launch planning has often been completed by combining all of the uncertainties inherent in new product launch into a most likely future projection, including some range of demand. Supply chain managers collect information on the range of submission timing, the range of approval timing and possibilities, and the range of demand forecasts. A spreadsheet model of the supply chain is created, simulations are run, and a plan is created that will produce success at the most probable outcome.

The logistics industry, led by UPS, FedEx, DHL and TNT Express, seems to be eyeing clinical research organisations with tailor-made solutions.

DHL one of the leading logistic company has a 52 full time dedicated quality control team which ensures that all drugs are compliant to patent laws. It follows FDA standards, Six Sigma processes and takes all necessary steps to comply with all important quality control measures.

 Due to stringent procedures in countries like Brazil and Italy, every freight forwarder needs to have documented proof to ship drugs across the world. DHL validates and complies with all Temperature Controlled Processes (TPA). It has developed a patented packaging system to create a market-leading temperature-controlled logistics solution. These temperature-controlled parcels, according to DHL executives, ensure safe transport of consignments in cooled, deep-frozen ambient state.

Numerous manufacturing companies in the country have successfully implemented strategies to achieve supply chain efficiencies and are leveraging technologies, but their challenges are more on the logistics front.

India's infrastructure in terms of roads, rail, ports, warehouses, and others are woefully inadequate to support the country's manufacturing growth.  With India emerging as retailer's goldmine providing further impetus, logistics providers see a great opportunity to enter the market.

Logistics providers would not only find the challenge more formidable, because the country lacks the physical infrastructure, but would find providing the service more rewarding with their ability to bring capital that addresses the country's dire needs.

In the pharmaceutical supply chain, inventory and excess capacity is often used to mitigate the risk. Often, excess capacity and inventory are applied and critical resources are applied to ensure that every sales opportunity is covered. In relative terms, the cost of extra insurance is small: in absolute terms, it can reduce the company’s profitability by tens of millions.