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Life Sciences Shipping: 5 Challenges and 5 Questions to Ask

Increased parcel shipments to more destinations, complex regulations and specialist handling requirements makes life sciences shipping a challenge. In the latest QAD Precision report we look at five challenges of life sciences shipping and five questions to ask if you are considering software solutions.

The life sciences industry is forecast to grow to more than $10 trillion dollars by 2022. This is largely driven by growth in emerging markets. Life sciences shipping has also become more complex because of increased regulatory and handling requirements. Consequently, logistics managers who handle life sciences shipping face a number of challenges that impact where and how you’re sending products. Let’s have a look at these challenges.

Five Life Sciences Shipping Challenges


Regulatory demands have had two major impacts on life sciences shipping. Life sciences companies need to comply with track and trace requirements. They must provide documentation of the contents of their shipments. This drives up costs. Moreover, regulation may limit pricing structures in certain markets. Both of these challenges squeeze margins for life sciences companies.


Demand for life sciences products is shifting from mature markets like the US, Europe and Japan to emerging markets. Therefore, sales to the BRICS countries, Mexico, Turkey and others have become increasingly important. Emerging markets have expanded their healthcare spending which means more shipping to these countries.


Historically, life sciences shipping meant cold-chain storage for vaccines, blood, tissue samples and such products. Specialties like biotechnology have made cold-chain transportation necessary for more finished products. This includes biologically based medicines, research and clinical trial materials, as well as drug coated implants and more.


In the US, high insurance premiums along with lower deductibles mean that patients have less money to spend, but have to pay more for their medicines. This places pressure on life sciences firms to contain costs while retaining margins.


Direct to patient shipping is growing due to the increased popularity of home health care. Consequently, more shipments going to price- and time-sensitive patients, rather than distributed through traditional channels.

Five Questions to Ask

All of these challenges mean that life sciences companies are sending higher volumes of smaller shipments. These shipments are going to more places than ever before. Moreover, each and every parcel must comply with regulations regarding accurate documentation, visibility and specialized handling. Traditional logistics applications and ERPs were not designed to deal with these challenges. If you are considering parcel shipping software, here are the questions you need to ask.

  1. Does your parcel shipping solution offer access to a global carrier network, including specialist carriers? Life sciences companies depend on carriers who can provide specialized services, such as same-day delivery and specialist hospital delivery services. Not all carriers can handle the transportation of life sciences goods. Nor do all carriers offer cold-chain shipping. Your parcel shipping software solution should offer visibility into these capabilities as well as access to these carriers and services.
  2. Can your software handle documentation and other requirements related to the transport of hazardous, infectious or controlled substances? Complete labeling and documentation is critical to ensure the correct handling of your goods all the way to the final destination.
  3. Does your parcel shipping solution enable compliance screening? You must ensure that your trading partners have authorization to receive your goods. You system should allow you to run compliance checks whenever you need to, on an ad-hoc, batch or transaction basis.
  4. Does your software handle controlled substance checks? When goods contain controlled substances or chemical compounds, due diligence is necessary to ensure that your goods are not sent to unauthorized locations.
  5. Can your parcel shipping software provide for arrival tracking? When you ship high value and/or high volume goods, you need visibility into the status of shipments.

How QAD Precision Can Help

Life sciences shipping and logistics requires access to a network of global carriers who can provide specialized handling, such as cold-chain or hospital delivery services. With QAD Precision Multi Carrier Shipping life sciences companies can leverage a global network of more than 5,000 carrier services. With QAD Precision Multi Carrier Shipping you can search for carriers by geography, capability and services. The solution also allows you to compare costs, routing options and other criteria.

With QAD Precision Global Trade Management, life sciences companies can automate their export processes. QAD Precision ensures that all the documentation necessary to complete a shipment are prepared correctly., including documentation for specialist life sciences products, as well as dangerous goods or controlled substances.

QAD Precision Trade Compliance mitigates the compliance risks inherent to shipping controlled substances, biological goods or chemical compounds. Life sciences companies can perform due diligence, including verifying trading partners, determining end use, and validating the country of destination. This allows life sciences companies to simplify trade compliance.

QAD Precision Delivery Exception Management offers a centralized portal for multi carrier and global package tracking. With QAD Precision you can track shipments originating in any system and track all shipments, in any region, in exactly the same way. The solution allows you to manage by exception, so that you can proactively resolve problem shipments. The system offers proof of delivery capture and chain of custody control.

About QAD Precision – Trusted Global Trade and Transportation Execution

QAD Precision (Precision Software), a division of QAD Inc., provides industry-leading global trade management, transportation execution and multi carrier shipping software solutions from a single, integrated platform. Preeminent industry leaders in every region of the world rely on QAD Precision’s global support centers to leverage thousands of carriers and manage millions of shipping transactions every day. Our open architecture easily integrates with Enterprise Resource Planning, Warehouse Management Systems and legacy solutions. An ISO-certified company, QAD Precision assists companies to minimize shipping costs, optimize first mile and last mile deliveries, automate free trade agreement compliance, avoid customs delays and mitigate the risks associated with dynamic trading environments to maximize their competitive advantage. QAD Precision’s customers span multiple industries including banking and finance, life sciences, high technology, retail, industrial, automotive, higher education and public sector as well as logistics providers. For more information about QAD Precision, visit www.precisionsoftware.com.


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