The global distribution of the various different Covid-19 vaccines
is a logistics operation like no other. However, many pharmaceutical
manufacturers contend with complex life sciences logistics. In this
QAD Precision Report we examine the challenges of shipping products
that are sensitive to time and temperature.
The world received some very good news last week when it was
announced that the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine can now be stored
degrees to -25 degrees for up to two weeks. This is normal
medical freezer temperatures. Previously, the manufacturers had stated
that the vaccine was to be stored at ultra-low temperatures of around
As a result, more medical settings will be able to store and
distribute the vaccine. This should assist to speed up the vaccine rollout.
A number of other coronavirus
vaccines are also sensitive to temperature. For example, if the
Moderna vaccine is stored at -20 degrees it will remain viable for up
to six months. However, the vaccine can be stored at between 2 to 8
degrees for 30 days, and at room temperature for 12 hours.
As you can see, temperature has a significant impact on the vaccine’s
efficacy. The same is true for a number of other pharmaceutical products.
Life sciences companies manufacture and distribute products that are
not only time- and temperature-sensitive, they can be delicate or
regarded as hazardous. Pharmaceuticals that are incorrectly handled
can become ineffective. In some cases, they could become harmful.
Therefore, life sciences logistics is a considerable challenge.
Like the vaccines discussed above, many pharmaceutical products
require cold chain transportation. That is, they must be kept
refrigerated and at a certain temperature range as they travel from
the manufacturer to clinics, hospitals and on to patients. Some goods
require extremely low cryogenic temperatures.
Temperature is not the only environmental consideration. Delicate
life sciences goods may be sensitive to humidity, sunlight, shocks and vibrations.
To make matters even more complicated, certain pharmaceutical
products have short half lives. In some cases, half lives are as short
as a few days. In consequence, such goods must travel from
manufacturer to patient within a very small time frame.
Therefore, ensuring that pharmaceutical goods are properly stored,
handled and transported is a critical requirement of life sciences logistics.
When you ship from multiple locations around the world, automating
paperwork helps ensure your goods flow through customs. Manual
processes, on the other hand, are prone to error. Get the paperwork
wrong, or incomplete, and goods are subject to customs delays.
When your goods are time-sensitive, these kinds of delays are
unacceptable. Automated export
documentation production ensures that all the paperwork needed
to complete a shipment is present and correct. This includes
documentation for hazardous and controlled goods too.
When you are shipping time- and temperature-sensitive products, you
must include clear and complete instructions on handling, temperature
sensitivity and other environmental factors.
These instructions must also be presented in the right language or
languages as goods move across the transportation network.
Choosing the correct carriers is vitally important. Not all carriers
have the capabilities needed to transport life science products, such
as cold chain transportation or hospital delivery services.
Life science companies that deliver direct-to-patient will need
carrier partners that can deliver to both metropolitan and rural
settings. In order to facilitate timely delivery to all patients, life
sciences companies may need multi carrier shipping solutions with global
Any company that ships sensitive goods benefits from intelligent
visibility into the whereabouts of these goods. A centralized
portal for multi carrier package tracking gives life sciences
companies 360° visibility as products move through the carrier network.
Tracking, while important, is not enough. Your solution should offer
exception alerts into potential delays. This will allow you to
proactively resolve problems. Furthermore, the solution should offer
chain of custody controls (if needed for your goods) as well as
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