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June 11, 2024


How the Cloud can contribute to sustainability across the life sciences supply chain

Martin Beißwenger

Senior Account Executive, Life Sciences, EMEA

Sustainability is a hot-button issue across almost every industry and life sciences is no exception, with environmental considerations at every stage of the supply chain. RFPs will invariably contain questions about an organization’s approach to sustainability, and the level of detail required gets more extensive the further you get into the procurement process.

This focus is easy to understand when you realize the scale of the issue; the life sciences industry is responsible for approximately 4-5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and pharmaceuticals businesses produce 55% more greenhouse gas emissions per dollar of revenue than the automotive industry.

While conventional wisdom suggests that becoming more sustainable will be an expensive endeavor, advancements in automation and cloud technology present an opportunity for life science companies to reduce their overheads while simultaneously reducing their environmental footprint. Sustainability doesn't mean you have to compromise on quality or cost, you can also benefit from reduced regulatory risk and higher customer satisfaction.

Waste as a mechanism for risk reduction

Some of the greatest sustainability improvements can be attained through material waste reduction, much of which is produced as part of efforts to reduce risk. For example, conservative expiry dates to help ensure safety and efficacy of Investigational Medicinal Products (IMPs) and the overstocking of trial packs at clinical sites to support patient recruitment, are both measures that result in high levels of waste but can be crucial in making clinical trial logistics run smoothly.

Alongside the significant environmental footprint, this waste can also be exceedingly expensive for some studies, especially personalized medicine, and biologics where a year’s course of treatment can sometimes cost upward of one hundred thousand dollars. Shifting to a ‘Just-In-Time’ (JIT) approach can help significantly reduce these costs, however organizations need to have confidence that their supply chains are sufficiently robust to provide the necessary agility, and consequently JIT remains an area of massive untapped potential for many life sciences businesses.

Leveling the playing field with the Cloud

Headline-grabbing sustainability measures are often out of reach of smaller players who are living between rounds of funding and are unable to absorb additional costs in the same way as a major pharma organization can. Fortunately, adopting a cloud-first approach allows companies of any size and maturity to align environmental and financial performance by delivering process efficiencies.

A cloud-based global labeling solution recognizes that labeling touches all aspects of an organization and that labels serve as a vehicle for data that is critical at every stage of the value chain. By establishing a centralized singular source of truth, closely integrating their labeling solution into wider Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Warehouse Management System (WMS), or Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems, life sciences companies can lower the risk of misprints and recalls, while making it easier to manage workloads across multiple sites.

By providing greater consistency and accuracy, global labeling solutions can reduce labeling errors which are major cause for costly product recalls that result in huge volumes of waste. This precision makes it easier to consider taking a JIT approach to production, making it easier to accommodate agile clinical trial methodologies.

Furthermore, the cloud-based nature of a labeling solution allows businesses to pay only for what they need, cutting expensive on-premise hardware requirements and seeing reductions in associated energy and water consumption. Studies have indicated that moving business applications to the cloud can reduce associated greenhouse gas emissions by 30% or more per user, with the smallest businesses enjoying the biggest percentage decreases, sometimes up to 90%.

Cutting costs and emissions through digital transformation

The adoption of cloud-based labeling is a critical component in achieving the end-to-end digital transformation of a life sciences business. It offers significant benefits that reduce the human, material, and energy costs of doing business, simultaneously reducing overheads and emissions.

To learn more about the sustainability challenges facing the life sciences industry and how cloud solutions can help companies overcome the pressure to become more sustainable without compromising on quality or cost, download Loftware’s complimentary whitepaper today and reach out to our experts for an in-depth talk!

  • Cloud
  • Regulatory
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainability