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The move from cold-chain to temperature-controlled shipping

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Today, manufacturers need to ship increased volumes of material over longer distances, thanks to worldwide demand for new medications and widely-dispersed patient populations. What’s more, these goods are often more valuable, in larger quantities,or more temperature-sensitive than they’ve been in the past. This creates a unique dynamic: how do manufacturers accommodate these shipments without transportation costs skyrocketing?

The answer is technology.

Thanks to new technologies developed by logistics providers, the cost model of shipping is shifting away from the traditional cold-chain delivery to a nearby destination along routes with high-quality infrastructure, towards temperature-controlled shipping. This reflects the wider range of temperatures manufacturers and clinicians require in their shipments. Only a few years ago, cold-chain just meant 2-8°C, but increasingly products today must be shipped at ‘body temperature’ (around +37°C), ‘controlled ambient temperature’ (15-25°C), or at extremely cold temperatures such as -20°C, and in even lower cryogenic temperatures (-80°C and -192°C). Requirements for different temperature ranges continue to expand and new solutions are undergoing testing in order to allow the safe transportation of goods at -40°C and -50°C, for example. 

Shipping at most of these temperatures ranges would have been very difficult or even impossible until recently. But new technologies are available that allow manufacturers to achieve their temperature-controlled shipping goals, develop global business models and accelerate the development of specialty treatments.

The shifting supply chain 

More valuable and sensitive materials require much greater security; the potential for excursion and the cost of rejecting a shipment of these materials are both much higher than ever before.

The greater range of shipping temperatures required by manufacturers increases the demand on both the packaging and on the integrity of the entire temperature-controlled supply chain.

To reach these regions and more distant patient communities, longer shipping routes are inevitable. Conditions along the route are often more difficult and unpredictable, the shipment is more likely to pass through widely varying climate zones and the transport/storage infrastructure may be less well-developed.

Over these longer routes, shippers must deal with a greater range of regulatory requirements, more variation in customs regimes and uncertain local transport options.

All these factors can make the cost of a successful shipment high. What is certain is that the cost of a failed shipment is much higher. A failed shipment can postpone the completion of the trial which in turn can delay patient access to life changing treatment.

In financial terms, there is significant revenue and profit impact to the delay in getting drugs to market. For a $1bn product, it can be $2.7m of potential lost revenue a day.

As the industry expands and demands more of these new types of shipment, ‘no acceptable loss’ has become the expectation and the norm.

Choose the right packaging

Under these challenging circumstances, successful shipments rely on the right choice of packaging for the type of material and the conditions that will be encountered during transit.

As a specialist logistics provider, World Courier works with the best packaging solutions from a range of manufacturers, carefully choosing and recommending the most appropriate product for each route and type of shipment.

To ensure the best possible service to our clients, our CORE (Climate Optimisation Research and Engineering) facility enables us to verify the performance of all the packaging solutions we use, testing them beyond the industry standards and the manufacturers’ claims.

Armed with this knowledge of each packaging product, CORE is able to provide a science-led recommendation of the most appropriate solution for each individual type of shipment, with detailed documentation to assist customers in their compliance procedures.

CORE also provides the data needed for developing new temperature-controlled packaging solutions when existing products are unable to deliver the performance shippers require.

Packaging is just one component of a secure temperature-controlled shipment 

Even after the most appropriate high-performance packaging solution has been selected for your shipment, there are still many potential variables and uncertainties en-route that could take the packaging outside the parameters for which it was designed, leaving the contents vulnerable to delays and temperature excursions.



                                                       Six potential logistics challenges


Round-the-clock commitment is the only guarantee of safe delivery

The expertise and detailed knowledge of a specialist shipping partner is indispensable when planning a shipment, but for materials that are high value, time- and temperature-sensitive, critical to a clinical trial or a medical emergency, a successful transit requires more than this.

Ultimately, because conditions along any shipping route may change with little or no prior warning, it takes something extra to guarantee that a shipment will be delivered safely, come what may.

This extra element is the dedication and commitment of the shipping partner’s staff on the ground, who work 24/7 to manage the progress of each delivery, and who go to extraordinary lengths when necessary to make sure that important materials reach their destination and the intended recipients on time, and in perfect condition.

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