Cold Chain Logistics Complexities and Possible solutions

Do you remember the news article where governments around the world were struggling to find ways and means to store and transport COVID vaccines at nearly -70 C?

Problems like these brought the focus back on effective and efficient cold chain logistics. While the pharma companies developed short-term solutions like creating special transport boxes to ensure the perfect temperatures, these aren’t sustainable for international shipments.

Over the past couple of years, the logistics industry has focused on developing the cold chain segment. According to Allied Market Research, the global cold chain logistics market was valued at $202.17 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach $782.27 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 14.6% from 2021 to 2030.

The importance of temperature controlled pharma logistics has grown in the past couple of years and the top reasons for the same are

  1. Regulatory requirements have become stricter across EU and US. China too has its set of Good Supply Practice of Pharmaceutical products.
  2. There has been an increase in the demand for cold chain solutions with controlled temperatures in the range of 15-25C. This means the cold-chain does not necessarily mean refrigerated products.
  3. The market for specialized medicines in emerging markets requires efficient cold-chain storage and transportation as the products have a short shelf-life.
  4. The growing need for sensitive bio-pharmaceuticals needs specialized and reliable cold-chain solutions that not just maintain temperatures but also avoid things like shock, vibrations, humidity, light, etc.
  5. Global increase in lifestyle diseases like diabetes has pushed the demand for transport of products like insulin, which needs temperature controlled transportation.
  6. India is being seen as the pharma to the world. It ranks third in the world for pharmaceutical production by volume. Transporting such enormous volumes requires reliable cold chain logistics and a reimagining of the present structure. A sustainable solution for this is the emergence of integrated pharma logistics solution that will focus on every aspect of the supply chain to ensure perfect, timely and scalable delivery.

Cold Chain complexities and potential solutions

1. Talent trumps all in Pharma logistics

Pharma cold chain has multiple handover points, each with its own set of weaknesses, which can ultimately impact the quality and the safety of the delivered product. A good understanding of the pharma industry and a complete understanding of the cold chain, helps manage risks well and ensures that there is no wastage because of transport. A strong pharma experienced team at your freight forwarder’s end will be necessary for best-in-class service.

2. Cold chain Packaging Network for efficient solutions

There are two varieties of packaging solutions for cold-chain logistics. Passive packaging can work for shorter routes or for last mile delivery, however trans-continental supply or air freight needs active packaging solutions for pharma. Active containers often get prioritized cargo status, hence a freight forwarder with in-house capabilities or with a network of active packaging providers will help pharma industry store and supply efficiently.

3. Effective Planning for risk management

A freight forwarder with pharmaceutical expertise will know that planning is extremely essential for temperature controlled transport. Multiple handover points increase the risk of human errors. Apart from this, other factors like labour strikes, custom delays, congestion, weather conditions or even force majeure circumstances like war, earthquakes or terror attacks etc. will have to be considered while planning.

4. Compliance with regulations till the last mile.

Regulatory bodies hold pharma companies responsible for ensuring all stakeholders comply with regulations. A strong network of pharma logistics experts with special attention to training of ground staff in handling pharma products will help in complying with the regulatory bodies.

5. Strong monitoring and evaluation of cold-chain shipment

Data collection and monitoring is essential for improving and qualifying a shipping solution. Current cold-chain logistics is fragmented in this sector. A freight forwarder with strong monitoring solutions can support the pharma manufacturer in achieving error free delivery. Temperature control and monitoring for active packaging, tracking devices that can analyze and capture other factors like shock, vibration, door opening etc. can provide complete visibility of the consignment and implement strong monitoring and controls.

Cold chain for pharma is a specialized domain and the temperature integrity throughout the supply chain is critical. Logistics companies with offices and warehouses or network of third party warehouses close to manufacturing hubs can maintain the initial temperature control. Currently, freight forwarders with warehouse hubs close to the destination, comprehensive monitoring solutions, exclusive cold-chain packaging solutions and transport network across the globe will succeed in global pharma supply-chain.