TraceLink lines up a key first customer: Catalent Pharma Solutions

June 23, 2010
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2010,

Collaborative-software firm strikes a “strategic business partnership” with major contract manufacturer for supply-chain visibility

Proceeding on a plan announced about a year ago, TraceLink (Woburn, MA) has announced a partnership with Catalent (Somerset, NJ), a leading contract manufacturing organization (CMO) to enable the thousand customers of the latter to look into its manufacturing, inventory and other key performance indicators (KPIs) via an easy-to-use online service from TraceLink called Process Links. The idea is to take data from “the cloud” in much the same manner that social-media sites like Facebook operate and make the data available to trading partners to provide supply-chain visibility.

“This collaboration will add to the already close relationships and excellent communication Catalent shares with its customers,” said Roy Satchell, Catalent’s CIO. “Our customers need strategic partners that can operate seamlessly with them in the execution of supply chain solutions. This collaboration provides that and more—enhancing visibility, improving supply network predictability, and facilitating the incorporation of strategic solutions as part of global supply planning.”

“By using the same application that has a common definition of data, business rules and collaboration tools, we can eliminate the many-to-many, multi-enterprise issues,” writes Shabbir Dahod, TraceLink president, in his company’s blog. “The purpose of a common application is not to supplant current business applications at each company but instead to put into a common application framework the processes we already conduct via our informal activities using fax, phone and email.”

In an interview with Pharmaceutical Commerce, Dahod adds that TraceLink is meant to be an alternative to complex, proprietary communication portals or networks. TraceLink emphasizes a simple “on-ramping” process, and has set its fees at a few hundred dollars per subscriber. Once in the network, trading partners agree between themselves what data to exchange, and what formats to use. Nevertheless, Dahod says that the Catalent partnership has been under way for several months, and that significant development work has been done to “harmonize” data sets.

The partnership should be beneficial on both sides: TraceLink gets a customer with 29 plants worldwide and a thousand customers; and Catalent gets a pioneering IT system that could put it at a competitive advantage to other CMOs. The breadth of Catalent’s operations and customer base will give TraceLink the opportunity to work out many of the KPIs and data flows that typical brand owner/CMO relationships run on. Catalent plans to continuously evolve the collaboration program based on customer feedback, and to launch the program progressively launched throughout its network starting in Q3 2010.

Dahod was the founder of SupplyScape, one of the early developers of pedigree software for documenting movement of pharma products in commercial trade (TraceLink acquired SupplyScape last year, and maintains its pedigree software currently in use). The natural evolution of TraceLink’s technology will be to provide an end-to-end visibility tool from raw material to end customer. Dahod says that TraceLink and Catalent are currently working on extending Catalent’s implementation to its suppliers, and that collaborative networking in commercial trade will be the will continue to be a developmental target. “Next year is 2011,” he notes, adding that preparations for e-pedigree implementations in 2015 are on the rise.