Roche seeking to revamp pharma inventory management

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Roche Pharma Pharmaceutical industry Pharmacology

Pharma giant Roche has launched a new crowdsourcing campaign that aims to capture innovative ways of improving and overhauling inventory management in pharmaceuticals.

The company is partnering with scale-up firm Wazoku and its expert crowd to significantly reduce the time end users spend managing supplies. The aim is to create a fully automated tracking system, requiring only a few operators at the central storage facility.

“The goal of inventory management is to have the right amounts of materials in the right place at the right time, which is crucial in modern R&D,” said a spokesperson for Roche.

“Even the automated systems currently in use require extensive human input, making them susceptible to errors. We know that there is vast knowledge and experience in such areas within the Wazoku Crowd, and we are looking forward to seeing what innovative automated solutions emerge.”

Inventory management, encompassing ordering, delivery, storage, and usage, is highly complex and crucial for pharma firms.

Many new research facilities now include embedded automation systems. However, retrofitting existing buildings is challenging due to the significant and costly infrastructure changes required.

Large companies' R&D departments must closely track multiple supply chain items, yielding significant savings in tail spend, storage, and waste management.

“The need to more effectively track supplies at R&D facilities in large pharma companies is huge, and it's important to overcome inefficiencies in companies’ inventory management,” said Jack Sanderson, account director at Wazoku.

“Our Wazoku Crowd has a fantastic track record in finding solutions to similar Challenges, and I'm confident it will deliver something transformative for Roche.”

According to both companies, the ideal tracking system will monitor ordered supplies and various material types from their arrival at the central storage facility to their utilization by end users in individual units. It should also be adaptable to R&D labs of different sizes, beginning at 100 m2, and seamlessly integrate with existing systems through a 'plug-in' mechanism.

“The power of the crowd to find solutions to business issues is without parallel,” said Simon Hill, CEO, Wazoku.

“Inventory management is a critical part of the R&D process, with potentially massive savings if it can be effectively automated. Roche is an organisation that’s very aware of the value of innovation and that collaboration and crowdsourcing are the most effective ways to innovate and realise benefits.”

The Wazoku Crowd is a 700,000-strong network of 'problem solvers', comprised of scientists, pharmacists, engineers, PhD students, CEOs, start-ups, and business leaders.

The company claims it has a success rate of 80% in solving more than 2,500 challenges.

The awards for Novel and Improved Approaches to Automated Inventory Management will be decided following Roche's evaluation of the submissions.

Roche assures a $15,000 prize for solutions, with a minimum of one award set at $5,000. Additionally, participants who provide information on innovative start-ups and experts could earn up to $500 for each successful network referral. The challenge concludes on June 18, 2024.

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