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Improving prosperity for all people and cultures Building a medical supply chain with drones in Africa NTT DATA Business Solutions Ayça Içingir.

The NTT Group is embracing the Self as We concept with the view to creating a sustainable society. The Self here refers to those around you as well, not just you as an individual. And this does not only refer to humans--nature and culture are also viewed as part of the Self. Social issues that cannot be solved from an

Working to solve medical supplies problems in Malawi

In the Republic of Malawi in the southeastern part of the African continent, there were many problems with the shipping of medical supplies due to poor transportation infrastructure and frequent flooding. To solve this problem, NTT DATA BS worked with German aerospace company Wingcopter to build a supply chain for medical products using drones. The project was led by Ayça Içingir, Global Head of Industry & Line Administration at NTT DATA BS.

"Previously, it took more than a day for medical supplies to be transported from medical centers to local clinics. Due to the difficult terrain, the only way to transport these items was to carry them on foot. However, through this project, we are now able to use Wingcopter drones to quickly deliver over 100 types of medical supplies. Delivery time was significantly shortened from one day to about 20 minutes, enabling swift emergency response such as delivering a breathing tube to a newborn suffering from difficulty breathing, saving the infant's life." (comment from Ayça Içingir also follows below)
This delivery service not only delivers medical supplies, but also creates new employment opportunities by training young locals as drone pilots and educating them as engineers. This initiative contributes greatly to solving social issues from the two aspects of saving lives and creating jobs. We are additionally planning to develop services that include food delivery.

Supporting startup companies to save lives

The difficulty in procuring medical supplies in Malawi was due to the lack of an established medical supplies procurement process, in addition to inadequate delivery infrastructure.
"There had been no digitalization of the procurement process. Orders were written by hand into an order book, and photos had to be sent to all facility centers via a messaging app. I felt a sense of urgency about the matter because we couldn't save lives that otherwise could have been saved unless we made further improvement in efficiency to respond swiftly to a variety of medical needs."
The aerospace company Wingcopter's fixed-wing drone bearing the same name as the company had the potential to resolve this issue. These drones are capable of delivering goods quickly and sustainably, with excellent flight range and load efficiency. However, as a startup company, at the time Wingcopter lacked the necessary resources. That is why NTT DATA BS decided to support the project by introducing SAPS/4HANA Cloud, a cloud ERP provided by software company SAPSE. Ms. Içingir's team were committed to speedy cloud implementation, enabling Wingcopter to digitalize their business processes. Beginning with financial aspects, they contributed to digitalizing processes from ordering to goods procurement as well as delivery and overall management, and started building a supply chain.
At the Wingcopter plant in Weiterstadt, Germany, drones are manufactured using SAPS/4HANA Private Cloud Edition. In Malawi, the first model of the drone delivery platform (MVP) was implemented, and manages order processing, flight planning, drones and equipment, delivery points, and drone pilots. In addition to its supply chain in Malawi, Wingcopter is also focusing on developing businesses to further expand its drone delivery services for a variety of other goods.
"NTT DATA BS is providing support to expand Wingcopter's base to enable them to supply a variety of goods to more areas using drones."
Ms. Içingir currently advises Wingcopter on future business development from both economic and sustainable social impact perspectives.

Medical staff opening medical supplies delivered by drone

Drone pilots checking flight operations on screen

"Wingcopter began its supply chain business in Malawi, using drones to deliver medical supplies. And we were able to verify how this service and technology would save lives and create jobs in Malawi. Even with good technology and ideas, it would have been difficult to solve this medical logistics challenge without streamlining all of the processes from financing to inventory management, delivery, and overall management. I feel proud that I was able to help lead this project to success. I am also confident that this service and technology could be scaled up and deployed in other countries and other business areas. In the future, NTT DATA BS and Wingcopter will work to contribute to local communities and the realization of a sustainable society by creating new drone-based logistics networks in the sky in other regions where transportation is susceptible to breaking down like in Malawi."

A key step toward a sustainable future

Ms. Içingir told us about the initiatives that have been made thus far:
"I believe that this project is a key step toward realizing a sustainable future by leveraging the high-level expertise and technology of NTT DATA BS. The NTT Group is involved in a wide range of businesses in a variety of fields, and it is key for all employees to unite and act with a sense of urgency. Otherwise, the future and the future of the next generation may be threatened."
Ms. Içingir says she would like to continue making an impact on clients and society in the fields of climate change, recycling-oriented society, CSR, or other related areas.
"We are passionate about making the most of our expertise and further improving existing solutions to create new value. Our goal is to support the business and future growth of partner companies through technology and processes, and to make the world a better place together."
Ms. Içingir says she has gained new perspectives on technology, sustainability, and social impact through this project.
"For me, this project reaffirmed the importance of adapting to the environment and acting flexibly in order to collaborate with an innovative startup and make positive changes, as well as the necessity of taking on challenges from a global perspective."

"Through initiatives for diversity and sustainability we have heightened the 'Self as We' concept. Through co-creating by leveraging our own strengths, we had the opportunity to contribute to a sustainable earth and a society of well-being. I believe this initiative is in line with the 'Self as We' philosophy as well as the goal of a decarbonized society."
She says efforts to raise awareness of sustainability started about two-and-a-half years ago.
"At first, from a business perspective it wasn't easy to convince internal members to invest in this new field, but we emphasized and explained the possibilities of increasing revenue in the market and achieving new business models."
Ms. Içingir says they held a contest in which ideas were solicited from internal employees, and a vote was held to determine the best ideas. There was a high level of interest from other employees and many opinions and ideas were gathered.
She reflects: "The high level of interest convinced us that our efforts to involve others around us were moving in the right direction.
We want to bring together our expertise and use the power of data and technology to advance initiatives that improve quality of life for many people and have a positive impact on society. In addition to our internal activities, we would like to promote co-creation with partner companies such as SAPSE and Microsoft, as well as research and development projects through joint innovation with clients. My goal is to help the company tackle sustainability challenges to build a better society. I would like to provide leadership in realizing a future where society can sustainably coexist alongside nature thanks to technology."