Optimizing Cold Chain Packaging for Medicines

One month into 2022 and supply chain woes show little sign of alleviating. The challenges of hiring, ongoing COVID absences, severe weather events, constrained lanes and more are frustrating – and costly.  Domestic parcel shipping is set to rise by 6% this year.Recognizing that in recent years everything has become more expensive, with inflation making it all even worse, the majority of businesses have accepted carrier rate increases as, well, the “cost of doing business.” On the plus side, domestic carriers are making investments to improve their efficiency and throughput. For example, UPS is eliminating millions of manual scans by deploying RFID tags on packages.

Additionally, UPS has been able to eliminate over 1,000 daily trailers of deliveries due to optimization efforts. For pharmaceutical companies interested in controlling  logistics costs, optimization for parcel weight and size, much like the UPS approach, offers a significant opportunity.

Take receiving meal kits at home as an example: it is not uncommon to remove several pounds of frozen gel packs which are necessary to keep the contents fresh -- and nice to reuse at family picnics -- but costly to ship. The same can be said for other forms of temperature controlled packaging that use thermal material to keep contents within a precise range.

When it comes to shipping temperature sensitive medicines, the stakes are much higher than other cold chain products. Any excursions can render pharmaceutical products less effective and may lead to negative patient outcomes. That said, the temptation to overpack with thermal material ‘just to be safe’ may be strong – but doing so is now more costly than ever (not to mention could inadvertently freeze the therapy).

So where can pharma manufacturers and drug distributors look to find areas of possible cost reduction within their logistics operations?

·      Thermal material weight versus product weight – What lighter high-performance material is available with the same or better reliability to maintain temperature at different temperature profiles?

·      Retrospective lane analysis - What can be learned from the actual experiences of shipments? What lanes are over-performing for delivery and where are the consistent delays? Each distributor should have a process to identify and remove problematic lanes.

·      IoT investments – As tracking technologies such as data loggers become smaller, smarter and less expensive, this is another way to understand the actual performance of thermal packaging in the real world. Beyond capturing ambient temperature, these can track condition, transporting temperature, real-time location, chain of custody and more.

While the first approach takes little more than research, the others require data and subject matter expertise. Talk to the experienced team at AeroSafe Global to talk about options to optimize your cold chain packaging and reduce carrier spend, today.

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