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Removing the Bottlenecks in Rolling Out Global COVID-19 Vaccines

Miguel Milano
by Miguel Milano
February 05, 2021
4 min read

Every once in a while, we come across a new use case that's so perfectly suited to the Celonis Execution Management System that it makes us pause.

As the world waits for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations to accelerate, this is a perfect example of how powerful technology can help: The Celonis Execution Management System identifies any bottlenecks or restrictions in the end-to-end supply chain for global corporations - these kind of delays that could also be slowing down the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccinations around the world.

The challenge ahead is an effective, secure and equitable distribution of an unparalleled volume of vaccines as fast as possible - all while economies and societies are already disrupted. Getting this done is truly a matter of life and death.

Anything such new, ambitious or on such scale as the world vaccination program comes with friction, that causes the current frustration among billions of people waiting to be immunized. But we can approach this task with the same eagerness to build innovative technological solutions like in other areas - and we can use our learnings from optimizing processes at scale.

Some of the challenges we are facing are well-known and could be mitigated:

  • The demand for vaccines is at its highest point and requires extensive mass production to produce the greatest possible quantity - while meeting the highest quality requirements and using resources as sustainably as possible. Real-time as-is process data reduces scrap and deficiencies.

  • The current vaccine has some very specific requirements for distribution, for example temperature control and refrigeration, which require constant control to avoid quality deficiencies. Machine-Learning-based planning of inventory and routes can free capacity to focus on preserving quality. Every single dose that does not go to waste due to inefficient processes can save someoneโ€™s life.

  • The actual possible administration of a single vaccine dose is a classic last mile problem. The specific challenge here is the limited resources and constant reprioritization of target groups with different needs. Almost complete information helps to close any gaps.

  • As the private sector and public sector work together, information is scattered and makes planning of actual vaccination capacity difficult. Planning & forecasting of demand in this volume requires data accuracy so that individual vaccine batches are not needed elsewhere after delivery.

  • Turning every vaccine into a vaccination also takes public confidence in the effectiveness of the vaccine and an efficient process, as well as timely information on its availability. This will be supported by transparent information and effective communication of it.

In all cases, a complete and transparent overview of the process from manufacturing to final vaccination - enabled by technology - would help to identify any gaps and optimize execution of our global vaccination program.

And we need to think end-to-end transparency to the end: all stakeholders involved, from manufacturers to vaccination centers and the population, need to be linked to show dependencies in the process and to be able to identify bottlenecks as early as possible - and mitigate potential friction through immediate action. There is a need for one consistent data model or technology platform that connects all parts in a meaningful way and acts as a single source of truth.

Along with many other technology companies contributing to the global cause of beating COVID-19, Celonis is ready, willing, and most of all, able to help.

We wanted to test our theory and see if this could be possible โ€“ and thatโ€™s why a team of Celonauts has already built and tested a digital map for this end-to-end process, using sample data from multiple points along the supply chain.

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Given access to the real data, our analysis will enable the rollout of the vaccination to work at peak capacity. Our Execution Management System will identify gaps in the delivery process, quality deficiencies, and distribution bottlenecks. More importantly, besides creating much-needed transparency, Celonis offers the possibility to take immediate action, for instance contacting a specific vaccination center.

In doing so, we connect all stakeholders: Vaccine manufacturers, suppliers, ministries of health, and vaccination centers. As well as working on a global scale, our technology also provides granular, local-level insights. These will help local administrations identify and iron-out any specific delays that are holding back the vaccination process at grass-roots level. We're all in this together. Celonis is committed to contribute our technology & expertise to make best use of any available data to save people's lives. If you work for a public institution, a pharmaceutical or logistics company, please reach out to us to collaborate and together help end this pandemic fast.

Miguel Milano
Miguel Milano
Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Owner

Miguel Milano is Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Owner at Celonis and a member of the executive management team. In this capacity, he is globally responsible for sales, customer success, solution engineering, delivery, demand generation and partners. He joined Celonis in April 2020.

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