In the world of shipping and logistics management, cold-chain transportation has been a staple for many years. Many industries rely on the transportation of cold and frozen goods. One sector that is experiencing a rapid increase in demand for similar shipping services remains the medical industry. With the final development of several COVID-19 vaccines, specialized shipping must protect the vials as they get distributed. According to BioPharma, “To date, dry ice has been central to maintaining the ultra-cold temperatures that certain pharmaceutical products- such as the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine- need to be stored at while they are in transit.” The biggest obstacle to current transport methods comes down to the amount of dry ice needed and the issues surrounding the containers’ proper maintenance. Thankfully, cold-chain transportation has the foundation required to fill in gaps and keep the supply chain running as the vaccines’ distribution starts ramping up.
The Dangers of Cold-Chain Transportation Network Failures
When shipping any product requiring specific cold temperatures during transport, the most significant risk is temperature damage. For the COVID-19 vaccines, temperature fluctuations or the inability to keep containers cold enough can result in the loss of viable doses. While some products would simply present an inconvenience and an unfortunate cost, it could mean literal lives lost when it comes to the vaccines.
Preparing the cold-chain transportation network for the vital and specific requirements needed for vaccine transport must start now. Entire containers and loads could become compromised without specialized processes in place during transport. When dozens of doses exist in a single vial, the loss of a whole batch could mean hundreds or thousands of lives lost. Network failures and the inability to monitor cargo in real-time poses the greatest threat to vaccine shipment and where the primary focus lies.
Sound Logistics Capability Is Critical to Getting Vaccines Delivered On-Time
Logistics managers must be proactive and put the right processes in place to ensure loads get packaged securely for transport. In particular, drivers and managers need to work together to track shipments in real-time, using the best in automation technology, to protect vaccine loads’ viability. Successful cold-chain transportation relies on communication and real-time data. Furthermore, many transporters have already started modifying cargo spaces to accommodate the specialized containers the COVID-19 vaccine needs.
Those companies, including ones that have embraced collaborative network management, are well-positioned. Armed with resilient technology and processes, they can start improving IoT systems and embracing modern tracking and monitoring tools to extend their market lead. Real-time monitoring of temperature levels inside and outside the cargo containers, tracking individual load locations at any given moment, and improved transportation lane monitoring can help get vaccines out to more medical centers and providers on time.
Tips for Getting Ready for the Next Cold-Chain Transportation Demand Surge
Demand for cold-chain transportation has already spiked, with even larger and more frequent surges coming in the future. Freight managers and shippers who can already handle these specialized loads can absorb the demand. However, there other ways to get ready for the next surge in demand for cold-chain shipment services and transportation management:
- Share data across the entire cold-chain transportation network in real-time.
- Ensure all systems get secured adequately against hackers and other cyber threats.
- Maintain increased shipment-level transparency among all involved parties.
- Avoid delays through proactive dock scheduling and real-time monitoring.
- Increase adherence to special protocols with precise carrier compliance requirements.
- Provide proper and regular training for all team members involved in shipments.
- Utilize automated systems and modern technology to improve shipment viability.
- Keep open lines of communication among all team members and third parties.
- Monitor shipments in real-time to watch for delays, temp issues, or other deviations.
Specialized transportation processes will be critical to the safe, timely, and practical distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 and beyond.
Enhance Your Cold-Chain Transportation Network With a Collaborative Logistics Platform
While many breathed a sigh of relief over finally having COVID-19 vaccine options available, the puzzle of distributing such a sensitive load still poses a significant obstacle for shipping managers. Adjustments to cargo spaces, containers, monitoring protocols, and shipping logistics are essential to ensuring the vaccine gets into medical professionals’ hands. A collaborative logistics platform and support system from Turvo can make all the difference, so request a consultation now.