Meet our customer hero
In a highly regulated market environment with increasingly demanding customers, PharmLog Pharma Logistik GmbH has chosen the webMethods Integration Platform to deliver reliable service to its partner network, reach growth and efficiency goals, and pave the way for climate-neutral dispatch over the long term.
PharmLog knows a thing or two about complexity. After all, the company was formed as a cooperative partnership between six major German pharmaceutical manufacturers and runs their only pharmaceutical warehouse in Germany. The warehouse offers a capacity of 42,250 m². However, PharmLog’s responsibilities are not simply limited to orderly, proper storage. As a contractor to its partners, the company is also responsible for distribution—from processing goods receipts to picking, dispatch, and transport. Top security and speed are crucial for these tasks, especially in light of growing customer requirements, vast order volumes, and a highly regulated environment.
In addition to the requirements imposed by the market and partners, PharmLog also wants to pursue its own growth and efficiency goals and steadily expand the climate-neutral dispatch in its service portfolio. "webMethods helps us do that as a middleware solution that seamlessly integrates the systems of our logistics partners, customers, and their end customers, improving overall efficiency and creating maximum transparency," states Roman Poon.
The migration started with the replacement of the existing warehouse management system: The need to deliver more efficient and reliable pharma logistics presents PharmLog with a major challenge to ensure the security and quality requirements for packaging, storage, and shipping. "That couldn't be done with the existing warehouse management system, which was more than ten years old, and represented a danger as a single point of failure," explains Stefan Hollmann, Head of IT, PharmLog Pharma Logistik GmbH.
So, the challenge was clear: A new warehouse system with new functions could only be operated properly with a standardized integration approach. The company needed a platform for enterprise application integration that can accommodate a defined structure with multi-client capability that can implement mapping in a target structure as well as changing the target structure. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant helped in the search, calling PharmLog’s attention to Software AG and its webMethods product.
To better coordinate the project with the 16 pharmaceutical manufacturers and 12 interface implementations at that time, the interface between PharmLog and its clients was first replaced using the old warehouse system as the recipient. In that initial step, the goal was to be able to receive and confirm existing messages like the old interface allowed—without making any changes to the sender or recipient. The recipient was then changed in the second step, the implementation of the new warehouse system. This task was performed by the middleware. Subsequently, clients had the flexibility to either migrate all messages to the new structure, or migrate individual related messages such as delivery notes and delivery note confirmations, goods receipts and inventory receipts. PharmLog’s partners Pikon and nterra provided support during the project implementation and succeeded in supplying a new interface in nine months.
PharmLog can also meet the latest requirement for a cloud connection without exceeding the defined limits. The solution enables customers to exchange their data through the environment hosted by Software AG without setting up external access capabilities and thus an exposed host through PharmLog. This separation keeps PharmLog’s security concept intact.
Since then, the integration platform has been reliably implementing all customer requirements, ensuring an unhindered data flow between the automated processes, and forming the foundation for greater closeness with customers and climate-neutral dispatch. All message structures can be read through Universal Messaging. With 40 clients and six interfaces, there are currently six different message structures being used to share 10,000 delivery notes and 40,000 delivery note items every day. "In the interim, not only have we implemented XML messages defined by PharmLog, but IDOC in different forms, Rosetta Net messages, EDI, Flatfile and FMD/NGDA as well, along with FTP/SFTP and AS2 over https on a technical level, to name a few. The short run times and low error rate in the implementation show our customers the high level of integration," adds Poon.
The integration software enables PharmLog to meet its customers’ new requirements. The processing times have shortened significantly due the existing broad implementations and the company is in a position to support its clients’ transition from warehouse to inventory. For instance, Procter & Gamble was able to transition to a new interface within seven months—and the interface itself was available within four months.
Thanks to improved connection with customers and transparent supply chains without a single point of failure, PharmLog is fit for the future because the importance of a seamless customer journey and optimized sustainability is constantly growing. Companies that aren't well positioned with technology won't be able to keep pace. PharmLog has chosen the right course to stay on track, which also applies to its partners. Ultimately, integration software establishes a business ecosystem that focuses on adding value and growth for all parties. PharmLog is already thinking about future responsibilities as a general third-party logistics provider and is investigating new possibilities for planning and providing shipments.