AI Advanced Analytics and IoT Sensor Technologies

of one

AI Advanced Analytics and IoT Sensor Technologies

Four examples of life science pharmaceuticals companies that are leveraging artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, and IoT sensor technologies to improve the supply chain and quality challenges includes Pfizer, Merck, Amgen and Biogen.

PFIZER: IOT ON SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT and reducing counterfeit products

  • CHALLENGES: Pfizer aims to improve the processes of the company by having full visibility in supply chain to ensure control over flow of materials and patients safety by providing tamper-free and authentic products.
  • The internet of things is considered to be a critical element to create smooth supply chain especially in large pharma companies.
  • Pfizer is one of these companies that digitalize its logistics and supply chain by using radio-frequency identification or RFID in preventing the prevalence of counterfeit drugs.
  • In fact, RFID labels were added in all Viagra bottles to ensure verification of the product's authenticity.
  • "RFID tagging and product serialization" ensures Pfizer's control over the flow of its materials that will also ensure the safety of patients by mitigating counterfeit products.
  • This highly-organized supply chain guaranteed full visibility that helps the company improve its manufacturing and distribution processes.

the MERCK: MACHINE LEARNING AND IOT ON automating supply chain activity

  • CHALLENGES: The pharmaceutical company wanted to automate some of its supply chain activity "to improve its planning decisions in terms of materials allocation and product distribution. They also wanted to reduce the supply shortages and "predict spikes in demand" related to the company's fertility drugs.
  • Merck, a life science pharmaceutical company utilizes Aera Technology via its AI predictive analysis software to manage its supply chain.
  • The use of machine learning predictive analysis, together with suit of sensors, the company has improved its inventory and made their distribution became efficient.
  • With the help of Amazon Web Service, the software captures information on supply chain data that automatically transfers to Aera's cloud infrastructure where the machine learning analyzes data to make recommendations on product adjustments, forecasting demands, trends in patients health, weather and natural disasters.
  • The pilot run of the system is said to be successful as 80 percent of predicted tests cases showed accuracy compared to what human experts can do on the same tasks.


  • CHALLENGES: Amgen wanted to replace the manual and repetitive task of analyzing and understanding deviations reports with an enhanced tool that would quicken the process compared to their previous system.
  • In October 2018, Amgen piloted an artificial intelligence process that has the ability to enhance and find patterns "find patterns in manufacturing deviations and to prevent their recurrence." This process is aimed to replace manual and tedious process of looking at large data that has been missed using its previous system.
  • Since deviation reports are documents that normally contains text, the company decided to utilize artificial intelligence tool such as natural language processing (NLP) to examine and analyze them. The NLP will also understand and "derive meaning from human language", including its concepts and how they are relevant to each other.
  • The company uses agile development evolve its requirement and solutions via "collaborative effort of cross-functional teams and their end users". This involves a strategy where "each successive version of the product is usable and each builds upon the previous version by adding user-visible functionality."
  • The implementation of AI tools in the quality processes of Amgen was presented in Xavier Health Summit in 2018.

BIOGEN: IOT IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT to prevent theft and product tampering

  • CHALLENGES: Biogen face challenges on supply chain theft, goods that did not go to intended destinations where their internal process have identified the high-risk lanes where their product moves.
  • Biogen, a biotechnology company focusing on neuroscience, has been using IoT and sensor data through Savi Technology's sensors and software to manage its global supply chain.
  • The Biogen director of global product and supply chain security, Lee Spach, stated that they have been using these technologies for two years to "provide visibility and added security for its shipments".
  • The supply chain management includes items such as raw materials, finished goods or products in progress, intermediates that are moving. They put sensors on product level to track and monitor shipment movements.
  • The Savi sensors has the ability to send alerts if items are strayed or not in desired destinations. Additionally, these sensors are also used to prevent product tampering and monitor environmental conditions to ensure quality of goods.

Research proposal:

Only the project owner can select the next research path.
Need related research? Let's launch your next project!

  • "Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharma companies, is one such corporation that has been looking at innovative opportunities to digitalize its supply chain over the next few years using IoT. For instance, Pfizer was one of the first pharma companies to utilize radio-frequency identification (“RFID”) tagging to reduce counterfeiting of its drugs. "
  • "A few years ago, Pfizer added RFID labels to all its Viagra bottles that allows distributors to verify the product’s authenticity [4]. RFID tagging and product serialization allows for better control over material flow and ensure patient safety by reducing prevalence counterfeit."
  • "More recently, in 2016 Pfizer announced a first-of-its-kind research collaboration with IBM called Project Blue Sky to employ monitoring tools that enable clinicians to deliver higher quality care to patients with Parkinson’s disease [2]. Through smart spoons fitted with sensors for instance, Pfizer can detect tremors which are symptomatic of Parkinson’s and alert clinicians of patient behaviors [2]."
  • "By visualizing the resultant insights through a centralized dashboard, companies can not only expedite the decision making process at every stage, but also gain complete visibility across the R&D value chain."
  • "Pfizer’s AI platform, for example, can analyze private data such as lab reports and helps researchers identify potential relationships between drug action and diseases using dynamic visualizations. "
  • "Once an AI-based solution such as this is fed with enough historic data from previous and concurrent trials, it can further minimize the need for conducting animal studies through in vivo simulations that help pinpoint molecules for taking forward to the live testing phase."
  • "In December 2016, IBM announced that Pfizer would be one of the first organizations to utilize the Watson for Drug Discovery cloud-based platform. The collaboration targets cancer therapies and aims to “help sciences researchers discover new drug targets and alternative drug indications.” "
  • "To provide context Watson for Drug Discovery has accumulated data from 25 million Medline article abstracts and 1 million medical journal articles compared to the 200-300 articles a human researcher can read in a single year."
  • "Watson for Drug Discovery allows users to analyze “private data such as lab reports” and provides researchers with the ability to identify potential relationships between disparate data sets through “dynamic visualizations.”"
  • "The company’s R&D expenditures totalled $7.872 million in 2016."
  • "Our Life Science business delivers many of the most highly-respected brands in the industry. We support customers through all stages of the drug discovery and manufacturing process."
  • "Another instance of Aera’s platform being applied in supply chain demand planning is their collaboration of Merck, the pharmaceuticals company as reported by the Wall Street Journal."
  • "Challenge: Merck wanted to automate some of its supply chain activity (decisions about allocating materials and distributing products) to make faster planning decisions."
  • "Merck deployed a suite of sensors coupled with machine learning predictive analytics software to improve its inventory and distribution efficiency."
  • "Merck engineers used the Aera Technology (formerly Fusionops) Insight machine learning capability of drawing on data from sensors on factory machines and their internal enterprise SAP software."
  • "Merck also says a pilot run of the system resulted in 80 percent of the predicted test cases being more accurate than human experts at the same task. Further details on the scale or the parameters for the testing were not immediately unavailable."
  • "The company is currently using analytics software from venture-backed company Aera Technology Inc. to mitigate supply shortages, predict spikes in demand and bottlenecks with about 100 products related to fertility drugs, Mr. de Luca said. It plans to expand the pilot program to its 5,000 products by the end of next year, which will add significant competitive advantage, he said."
  • "Mr. de Luca said he views artificial intelligence as a way to augment the jobs of the company’s supply chain planners, and reduce often tedious and repetitive work. In 2021, so-called AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity, according to forecasts from Gartner Inc."
  • "The software captures supply chain data from dozens of repositories and enterprise resource planning systems throughout a company, and transfers the data to Aera’s cloud infrastructure, which uses Amazon Web Services, where machine learning algorithms analyze it and suggest recommendations, such as whether and when to adjust product supply or demand forecasts. "
  • "The algorithms factor in external data such as weather, natural disasters, trends in patient health and in some cases expansion plans of pharmacies."
  • "Amgen is piloting a process using artificial intelligence (AI) that has the potential to greatly enhance its ability to trend and find patterns in manufacturing deviations and to prevent their recurrence. "
  • "The AI tool will replace a manual, labor-intensive process with one that can look across large data sets and find correlations between obscure signals and events which the previous system could have missed."
  • "Because the deviation reports — which Amgen calls non-conformance (NC) reports — are documents containing mostly text, the project team decided to employ an AI tool called natural language processing (NLP) to examine them. "
  • "NLP provides a way for computers to analyze, understand, and derive meaning from human language, including not only words but also concepts and how they are linked together to create meaning."
  • "Amgen Quality Data Sciences Executive Director Dan Weese and Director Mark DiMartino presented the strategy, approaches, and lessons learned from their implementation of AI tools in Amgen’s quality processes, with a specific focus on the NLP project used to analyze and trend manufacturing NCs."
  • "Biotechnology R&D company Biogen has been using Savi sensors and software as part of its global supply chain management practices for two years to provide visibility and added security for its shipments, according to Lee Spach, Biogen director of global product and supply chain security."
  • "The Savi sensors and visibility platform allows Biogen to track its shipments and sends alerts if the goods don't go in their intended direction or if they stray outside established geofenced areas, such as in a shipping port or airport terminal. Spach said the biotech firm also uses sensors that send alerts if the shipment containers have been tampered with and monitor environmental conditions that affect the quality of the goods."