In our efforts to highlight for readers where technology is helping in instrumental ways to support efforts related to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, Supply Chain Matters calls reader attention to a recent Accenture use of today’s available supply chain planning optimization and analytics technology to optimize the product supply and location constraints involving COVID-19 vaccine inoculations.

We, along with other thought leadership sites have been calling special attention to extraordinary global demand and supply network challenges that are now being planned and addressed to eventually distribute and administer the expected varieties of vaccines that are approved to protect people from COVID-19 infections. As many supply chain management professionals can attest, the sheer task of routing, distributing and last-mile delivery of approved vaccines to hundreds of millions of people is indeed challenging.

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

In early October, consulting and technology integration services firm Accenture announced what was described as a Vaccine Management Application to support COVID-19 immunization program needs for government and healthcare organizations. As part of the Supply Management component of this capability, Pierre Mawet, Managing Director, Supply Chain Operations North America Integrated Planning and Fulfillment and Domain Lead, shared on Linked-In this week, the posting: Analytics is the Best Medicine for the Global Vaccination Effort.

With U.S. approval of at least two vaccines, those developed by Pfizer and Moderna expected in the coming days, the challenge in supply chain planning dimensions is one of extraordinary product demand amid constrained supply. Other factors in planning dimensions involve patient dispensing sites, the need for at least two separate dosing requirements that must be precisely scheduled, and the need for determining any contingency needs.

Accenture teams reportedly developed a Cloud-based mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) optimization approach that leverages a commercially available software offering. The posting notes that the objective was: “to maximize the vaccination rate and immunize the highest number of people in the shortest possible time while being subject to all the abovementioned physical and policy-related constraints.

The software had to address how many doses were needed, at which dispensing site and at what point in time. There were added considerations to identify likely process bottlenecks, any oversupply or potential for vaccine waste.

One of the key takeaways provided is that: “bioscience must be followed by data science.

We would add that the configuration and use of available off-the-shelf software demonstrates the extraordinary pivots that many organizations have utilized during this COVID-19 disruption.

Yet another example of how available technology is being utilized to address extraordinary challenges.

 

Bob Ferrari

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