La Trobe University has chosen medicinal cannabis as the case study for research into an integrated digital supply chain management model which aims to reduce operating and compliance costs, increase efficiency, and prevent errors and theft.

End-to-end monitoring and traceability of freight is a key challenge for the transportation of highly sensitive and/or regulated substances such as medicinal cannabis.

The project will introduce next-generation data-capturing devices to enable the product to be monitored at every stage of the supply process, from producer/cultivator to retailer. Collecting data throughout the supply chain in a consistent manner presents the opportunity to create predictive models as well.

La Trobe University professor and lead researcher of the study Aniruddha Desai said while freight and logistics of regulated substances is a broad topic, medicinal cannabis was chosen as a use case for two reasons. 

La Trobe University professor and lead researcher Aniruddha Desai

“Firstly, it is one of the more challenging use cases in this space. It has regulatory and compliance challenges, like many other regulated substances, but it also faces increasing commercial pressures to reduce the costs of compliance, traceability, and provenance in a competitive growth market. 

“Second, this use case can contribute to what Australia is already doing in this space — developing and growing export opportunities in the supply of highly defined, quality assured, and fully traceable medicinal cannabis products.”

The hope is that the technology-enabled logistics model and the outputs produced from the project will be easily transferable and usable for other regulated substances.

As well as aiming to reduce human errors, the project will automate numerous compliance and reporting controls for Australian authorities such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Office of Drug Control.

The study is being conducted in association with applied research centre in the transportation and mobility sector iMOVE.