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Sustainable digitalization of pharmaceutical logistics

Program: COIN SME Innovation Networks, 13th call for proposals

Funding Organization: Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs

Implementing agency: FFG

Project period: 1.10.2021 to 30.09.2023
Project duration: 24 months

Logo DigiPharmaLogNetFFG-Logo in English

Project Goal

To automate logistics in the pharmaceutical industry, optimize the supply chain and thus save packaging material: This is the goal of the DigiPharmaLogNet project.

Under the leadership of FHWien der WKW and with the participation of Fraunhofer Austria, innovative companies such as the logistics start-up BOOXit OG and Compunity GmbH are networked for this purpose. The plan is to further develop and digitize self-organizing reusable boxes. These are intended to make pharmaceutical logistics more sustainable, efficient and safe.

Projekt Description

Rethinking pharmaceutical logistics with digital technology

The targeted use of self-organizing reusable boxes plays an important role in the digitalization of pharmaceutical logistics. In addition to ensuring certain transport conditions, they enable increased automation and sustainable optimization of the supply chain. The targeted improvements include:

  • Savings in packaging material through a reusable system
  • Optimized transport routes through dynamic control at load carrier level
  • Automated tracking of temperature, humidity and position data
  • Reduced workload for employees through physical and digital assistance systems

The planned transport goods carrier system will demonstrate how the use of innovative technologies (sensor technology, RFID/NFC, data algorithms, assistance systems) offers significant improvements along the logistics chain.

Sustainable reusable containers instead of disposable cardboard boxes

As part of the discussion on climate change, the use of reusable containers is increasingly being called for. The design of these transport goods carriers favors the automation of the pharmaceutical logistics chain and enables functionalities that classic cardboard boxes or plastic containers cannot provide (including condition monitoring, tracking & tracing, load security, automation of the loading process, anti-theft protection through encryption, traceability). Thus, a digitally supported reusable system could replace the single-use carton as well as other existing container systems.

Impacts along the entire supply chain are being examined

The technical, ecological and economic impacts along the entire supply chain – from pharmaceutical producers to wholesalers to dispensing points (e.g. pharmacies, hospitals) – are being examined theoretically and empirically as part of the project. These findings form the basis for the development of viable business models. Thus, this project lays the foundation for the digitalization and automation of pharmaceutical logistics and, by extension, general small goods logistics.

Results / Publications

Radio interview with Gerald Schneikart

“Intelligent reusable boxes for the pharmaceutical industry”

Gerald Schneikart, Project Leader & Researcher at the Institute for Digital Transformation and Strategy (IDS), gives a tour of the DigiPharmaLogNet project, which will be completed in fall 2023 and aims to make pharmaceutical logistics more sustainable, efficient and safe.

A logistics system consisting of smart reusable boxes and racks

Together with the project partners, the IDS of FHWien der WKW worked on innovative solutions for the extremely important area of logistics in the “last 30 kilometers” of the pharmaceutical supply chain.

Project manager Gerald Schneikart describes the vision as follows: “A logistics system consisting of intelligent reusable boxes and racks that makes the transportation of pharmaceuticals faster, cheaper and more socially sustainable.” The disposable boxes used to date will be replaced by reusable, digitally supported plastic containers from BOOXit, which will be returned to the sender. “However, this raises the question of the most efficient route for returning the boxes,” says Schneikart.


A physical internet solution to ignite circular economies in logistics industries

Author: Schneikart G., Mayrhofer W.
Year of publication: 2023

TAKE 2023 – The Multidisciplinary Conference on Intangibles, 28th and the 30th of June
Presentation at scientific conference

A Returnable Transport Item to Integrate Logistics 4.0 and Circular Economy in Pharma Supply Chains

Author: Schneikart, G., Mayrhofer, W., Frysak, J., Löffler, C.
Year of publication: 2023

Tehnicki glasnik/Technical Journal
Article in scientific journal (peer reviewed)

ICIL 2023, International Conference on Industrial Logistics, May 31 – June 02
Presentation at scientific conference

Follow-up projects

Two FFG-funded follow-up projects have already been launched during the term of the project, which was completed in fall 2023. Together with renowned educational and research institutions, the IDS of FHWien der WKW is researching further development of the logistics system for various applications with the companies BOOXit OG, Compunity GmbH and other logistics and technology start-ups.

Project Partners

In line with the networking idea underlying the project funded by the COIN Networks program of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), attention was paid to the intensive involvement of innovative partners:

  • Institute for Digital Transformation and Strategy of FHWien der WKW (IDS) as consortium leader and development partner for business models, strategy and sustainability
  • Logistics start-up BOOXit OG for the development of the self-organizing reusable boxes
  • Lassmann International GmbH and the pharmaceutical wholesaler Richter Pharma as pilot operators in pharmaceutical logistics
  • Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH / KI4LIFE for the topic of artificial intelligence, the IoT startup CompUnity GmbH to map the technological aspects regarding sensor technology, data interfaces and Internet of Things (IoT), as well as temprify GmbH to develop a reusable cool box prototype.
Logo Institute for Digital Transformation & Strategy Logo Fraunhofer Logo BOOXit
Institute for Digital Transformation & Strategy of FHWien der WKW Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH BOOXit OG
Logo Compunity Logo Russia Lassmann Logo Richter Pharma
CompUnity GmbH Lassmann International GmbH Richter Pharma
Logo temprify GmbH
temprify GmbH