Biopharmaceutical Cold Chain Logistics: Challenges and Opportunities

Biopharmaceutical Cold Chain Logistics: Challenges and Opportunities

Earlier cold chains were confined to a narrow brand of drug products. Today, with the rise of biopharmaceuticals, cold chain logistics is more important than ever.   

What is a cold chain from a logistics point of view? 

A temperature-controlled supply chain is called a cold chain. Samples from clinical trials, biologics, vaccines, different classes of medications, and medical products are extremely sensitive to humidity, heat, and other temperature-related conditions. Many chemicals are sensitive to even vibrations and shocks. 

A systematic and preventive logistics process is inevitable to source, store, and ship the biopharmaceutical products. There is a constant increase in spending for cold-chain logistics in the pharma industry.

Increase in the Global Biopharma cold chain spending:

Increase in the Global Biopharma cold chain spending
(Source: Pharmaceutical commerce)

Challenges in biopharma cold chain logistics 

A company involved in pharmaceutical cold-chain logistics has a host of challenges: 

  • Containing costs and maximizing efficiencies 
  • Managing load and vehicle capacity
  • Visibility issues 
  • Traffic constraints
  • Shortage of experienced and specialized drivers
  • Fulfilling a sudden rise of on-demand deliveries 
  • Last-mile delivery issues 

How can delivery optimization solutions benefit biopharmaceutical cold-chain logistics?

Optimizing the logistics process can improve the overall efficiency and productivity of the pharma supply chain

Delivery optimization software can help  companies counter biopharma supply chain challenges. It benefits the biopharmaceutical cold-chain logistics in the following ways. 

Crucial alert notifications 

A cold-chain logistics company cannot afford delays. Efficient communication of potential delays is crucial for successful logistics management. 

Delivery optimization software provides fleet managers with exceptional alerts with its real-time tracking ability. The quick notifications of shipment status enable proactive delivery management.  

Proof of Delivery of shipments

Biopharma products are time-sensitive. A clear record of delivery proof can help companies see if  products have expired before delivery. Its readily available photo verification serves as the automated proof for pickups and deliveries. 

Accommodate flexible delivery schedules 

Flexibility in delivery schedules is mandatory for the biopharmaceutical industry. Whether it is sourcing the pharma products, or transporting it for clinical trials, a fleet manager has to accommodate different delivery requirements. 

The traditional way of route planning and optimization is the primary reason for lack of flexibility. On-demand delivery of medicines for  nursing homes or clinical trials requires the fleet to operate on a flexible basis. A minor delay can have ripple effects. Hence, logistics optimization software provides the best solution to this problem.

Route planning software enables fast, flexible, and streamlined deliveries. It helps fleet managers plan delivery schedules automatically. It also helps fleet drivers cover the maximum number of stops while reducing the distance traveled, thereby making pharma deliveries cost-efficient. 

Effective workload distribution 

The availability of drivers and capacity constraints play a major role in workload distribution. There is a shortage of specialized and experienced delivery staff who can deal with cold chain vehicles. 

Assigning tasks for drivers becomes crucial while managing the large volume of on-demand orders with the available truck capacity. Increasing the operational ability by hiring inexperienced drivers or adding more vehicles can multiply the costs. The best way to counter workload issues is to use route optimization technology. 

Route optimization takes several factors into account like traffic, truck capacity, driver skill sets,  etc, before assigning tasks. 

Minimize unnecessary last-mile costs through dynamic route planning 

Pharma products  are temperature sensitive. Hence, special requirements like thermal blanketing, insulated containers, etc, increase the cost of transportation. There is a pressure to balance sudden on-demand requests and storage safety regulations.

The best way to balance both on-demand pharma deliveries and storage safety is by using dynamic route planning software. It provides the cost-efficient route to reach customers quickly. It adjusts delivery routes to accommodate sudden on-demand delivery requests in minimum time. 

Attain end-to-end visibility 

Pharma logistics companies attract massive costs in terms of storage. Hence, they should use technology to minimize costs and attain an end-to-end visibility. End-to-end visibility provides an edge for pharma companies to deal with the delivery of temperature-sensitive medicines. 

Route optimization software provides real-time visibility of vehicles’ locations. It offers crucial insights on breaks, driving period, idling period, waiting time, etc.This helps companies rectify  driving inconsistencies and improve last-mile delivery performance

Conclusion

The biopharmaceutical industry is focusing on maximizing its strengths in cold-chain logistics. Technologies like route optimization help pharma logistics companies deal with a sudden surge in deliveries. It enables fleet managers to cut fuel costs, labor costs, and visibility costs that burden pharma deliveries. 

Locus’ delivery optimization software enables cost-efficient pharma deliveries with its automated task allocation. It helps biopharma companies  improve customer experience and do on-time deliveries. 

Schedule Demo with Locus

References

  1. Statista
  2. Logmore

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