How technology from Oroxilia and Babelway is helping knit together Belgium’s COVID vaccine supply chain

April 30, 2021 Tradeshift Editorial Team

When Oroxilia was tapped to help the Belgian government manage the country’s most important logistics project—getting COVID-19 vaccines to more than 11 million Belgians—Jean-Paul Parmentier, Managing Partner of Integrated Logistics, knew there was only one Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) partner they could trust to see them to the finish line. 

Parmentier shared with Tradeshift the unique challenges they faced with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and how they leveraged Babelway’s technology to keep in compliance and on-timeline.

 

You founded Oroxilia in 2014. What made you decide to start the company?

Oroxilia started life as a result of a project by DHL Pharma Logistics to outsource elements of its IT systems. I was working for the company at the time, and was struggling to find the right partner. We needed a fresh approach, so I agreed with my colleagues at DHL to set up a company that could fulfill their needs. We still work with DHL today, but we’ve also expanded our reach significantly in terms of the customers we serve. 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about the kind of work Oroxilia does? 

We’re focused on integrating and supporting the IT systems which underpin logistics and warehouse management operations across complex supply chains. In practical terms that means securing, managing and automating the information flow relating to product movements from production facilities, to warehouse and storage facilities, and eventually to the end-customer (i.e. wholesalers, hospitals, pharmacies). We’re particularly strong in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors and operate primarily across the Benelux region. 

 

How did you become involved in the vaccine logistics project in Belgium?

As with many other countries, distribution of the COVID vaccine is being overseen by the Belgian government. One of our customers was awarded the distribution contract and turned to us to help build out the communication infrastructure across the key stakeholders involved in the distribution process. In addition to the vaccine roll-out, the scope of this project also includes distribution of rapid testing equipment across Belgium. 

 

How is the rollout different from your other logistics projects?

Though Oroxilia is accustomed to the complexities of the medical supply chain, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is uniquely complex for a few reasons. Logistically, there are a lot of moving parts; rollout is not as simple as moving the vaccine from Point A to Point B. This includes intake from multiple vaccine manufactures with varying transportation requirements. Distribution of the Pfizer vaccine presents some very specific challenges as the storage temperature needs to be maintained at a constant temperature of -82 Celsius. We needed to ensure that information was flowing freely and in real-time across different points in the vaccine’s journey from the warehouse through to a variety of destinations, including hospitals, clinics and care facilities. At the same time, we were required by the Belgian government to provide a clear line of sight into the status of the roll-out.  

And above all that, the health and livelihood of our fellow Belgians is hanging in the balance. It is imperative that we get this job done well and at speed. 

 

What specific challenges do you encounter when trying to knit together interactions between such a diverse group of stakeholders?

Whenever you bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, you encounter systems which operate according to a variety of different file formats and transfer methods. 

Given the importance of this vaccine rollout, we’re required to process and push a high volume of reports and data transmissions. For context, we set up workflows for each vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazeneca, J&J) and testing material as each requires unique transport and storage conditions as well as ordering behavior. From there, each destination type (i.e. hospitals, care facilities, prisons) requires a different flow setup originating hubs spread across the country. Scale this to a combined 15,500+ orders delivered to 5,000+ destination points and it’s clear this is a complex undertaking.

 

Considering the volume of data changing hands, one of the biggest potential roadblocks to the rollout’s success is a bottleneck of data resulting from issues transferring information from one system to another in a consistent manner. It would be impossible to solve for this challenge through manual intervention. 

 

How are you leveraging Tradeshift’s Babelway technology?

Tradeshift’s Babelway is always our partner of choice for multi-source data transmission and the only EDI partner we would consider for a project of this magnitude. One of the things I really value about Babelway is its ease of use. We were able to do a lot of the work ourselves to set up, configure and integrate the product into the overall solution we designed for the vaccine distribution project. The additional reassurance Babelway offered us in terms of the security of data exchange was also a key factor in enabling us to secure buy-in from the Belgian government. The reliability and performance is second to none and allows us to focus on what we do best during a critical period. 

***

Tradeshift’s Babelway technology is an online platform to automate document flows between partners requiring different formats and transfer methods. The cloud-based App can be used by the business and non-IT experts. Babelway’s extraordinary level of simplicity makes all partners’ jobs easier and increases speed and efficiency.

 

Tradeshift acquired Babelway in December 2018.

 

About the Author

Tradeshift connects buyers, suppliers, and all their processes in one global network. We help you transform the way you work with suppliers today – and adapt to whatever the future brings.

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