Innovation means bringing efficiency or improving it. To offer solutions, to produce certainty. What, until now, has been done one way can be done better by providing greater assurance, more advanced tools, precise automation, and targeted benefits. That is the case with the Cold Chain Platform, the critical and innovative project dedicated to the pharmaceutical world and, more specifically, to monitoring that cold chain whose strict adherence ensures the integrity (and therefore the validity and effectiveness) of certain medicines. How to automate control processes along the entire supply chain and ensure that storage conditions have been maintained when the whole process – from manufacturer to consumer – is complex, structured in several stages, and managed by different actors? CCP, the Cold Chain Platform, aims to answer this question effectively.
Cold chain platform: what, how, why.
The CCP, Cold Chain Platform, is an innovative project created to respond efficiently to a need that is simple to define and very complex to meet: monitoring and ensuring compliance with the cold chain in the management (from production to distribution) of medicines. To get a scale of magnitude of the importance that such a solution can hold, consider that more than a third of the drug produced, processed, distributed, stored, delivered, and used worldwide require the maintenance of a stable temperature throughout their life cycle: exposure to temperatures higher than those indicated (for a period of time that for some medicines does not exceed a few minutes total) means jeopardizing the integrity, and therefore the effectiveness, of the medicine. A few seconds delay in labeling, a very short stop before storage, a hitch during transport to the distribution site, and the drug loses its function. The latter is often (for this type of medicine) critical: these are life-saving medicines or the like.
Designing a solution capable of ensuring timely and certified monitoring of cold chain compliance throughout the entire lifecycle of a particular drug: this was the starting point for the study and development of the Cold Chain Platform in response to the first call for innovation launched by Bi-Rex Competence Center (link al sito: https://bi-rex.it/). Given the complexity of the challenge, the variety and variability of functions and interactions that the designed solution had to be able to handle, and the necessary use of different kinds of expertise, including IoT, artificial intelligence, targeted software, versatile and functional interfaces, and Blockchain, a team of top-notch companies were assembled to achieve an outstanding result, whose collaboration – through an Open innovation activity – resulted in the desired solution. The companies are Keethings, Altea UP, Esisoftware, Ellab, Jsb, Innovative Solutions, and Università del Sannio.
But how does the Cold Chain Platform work? The CCP is a cloud platform that digitizes, collects, and manages data related to the movement of medicines that require processing, storage, and transportation at specific temperatures to ensure compliance in a certified manner. Each stage is based on the highest performing technologies:
- the collection and digitization of movement information (in and out of storage warehouses or temperature-controlled transport vehicles) are done directly in the field through Local Front End and IoT technologies and Rfi-Id tags: sensors record passage times and temperatures in different environments.
- the centralization of information on a single platform, with processing operations and interaction with the responsible parties, occurs through the central platform and Collaboration Front End.
- the integrity of information storage and any anomalies is guaranteed by Blockchain technology, which makes the data stored in the central platform unalterable.
The importance of a front end with keethings vision.
Keethings’ imprint in the design of the Cold Chain Platform can be identified in the philosophy that is also found in the Keethings Digital Workspace: the more complex the tasks and structure of the functions, the more users need to be faced with an easy-to-use tool that they can interface with quickly, with immediacy and clarity. The Collaboration Front End of the Cold Chain Platform bears Keethings’ signature and is the point of contact between the system’s various functions and operators.
Specifically, the Collaboration Front End of the Cold Chain Platform performs several roles:
- provides restricted access to authorized users, who are individually identified according to a user-mode/areas or functionality they can access.
- forms a common interface for every operator within the Supply Chain to interact with the CCP.
- provides quick and simplified access to information on the storage status and location of the individual medicine.
- if it detects an anomaly, such as exceeding the exposure time or temperature of the storage environment, it sends a real-time alert to specific users, enabling immediate action to ensure that the integrity and quality of the drug are maintained.
The collaborative mode with which the front end was designed allows an intuitive approach to the platform, mobile use, and an interface that makes immediacy its strong point. Collaboration is facilitated, as in the case of the ease of engaging different referents when a given event occurs and the possibility of bringing them together in a virtual space where they can interact through chat, sharing information and solutions.
Innovation that builds the future.
Keethings has enthusiastically embraced the Cold Chain Platform project, not only because of the opportunity to create value through its skills and visions but because of its deep conviction that innovation can make our lives – professional and personal – better. And CCP itself is proof of this: for the contribution it can make to the pharmaceutical sector, in terms of the companies involved, but of course also in terms of the end recipients, the last but most crucial link in the chain of production/distribution of drugs of such importance: the person who needs the cure. Moreover, this solution, born and ready to be applied to a medical sector, is in its parts and completeness applicable in very different sectors, with the same degree of evolution and value.