In 2015, it was estimated that the total amount spent in the United States’ logistics and transportation industry totaled more than $1.4 trillion—a number that roughly totals 8% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
An important part of that logistics sector is pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical logistics. Globally, the pharmaceutical industry does over $1 trillion in business and that number is steadily rising, expected to rise by 41% between 2015 and 2021.
It’s true that pharmaceutical logistics can get medications to manufacturers and customers effectively, but there are many problems keeping the industry from always functioning to its full potential:
- Controlling the Temperature: It’s no secret that many pharmaceutical products must be kept at a certain temperature while in transit or they can decrease in effectiveness. A popular method of transportation for pharmaceuticals is through cold chain delivery. Cold chain delivery—simply put– involves transporting frozen or refrigerated products.
- Supply Chain Management: Currently the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t really rely on truckload logistics to handle supply chain management and markets in more remote places like South America and Asia.
- Lack of Coordination: As a global industry, a coordinated supply chain is important, but this is far from easy. People, especially elderly folks, are always in need of medications. If supply chains break down, they may turn to cheap alternatives, which in turn would hurt the name brands.
- Warehouse Management: The growth of the global pharmaceuticals has led to an increase in supplies and a need for more warehouses. While warehouses help house supplies, the need for better truckload logistics is becoming more important. If logistics operations are outsourced, this gives a company less control over operations. The use of IT, truckload logistics and management systems are a growing trend in pharmaceutical logistics, but are not at high levels just yet.
When it comes to finding sensible cold shipping solutions, there are several factors to consider. Cold shipping isn’t just about chilling items. The other big key is making sure the items being shipped are safe while in transit. This is especially true of pharmaceutical transit as even a slight temperature fluctuation can greatly reduce or completely eliminate the effectiveness of vaccines, medications and other important medical items that folks rely on every day.
For sensible, reliable cold shipping solutions, it’s important to use some or all of the following steps to make sure your pharmaceuticals are protected and shipped correctly and safely:
- Get an experienced carrier: Many multi-national truckload carriers offer cold storage boxes for keeping items cool during transit. But when it comes to pharmaceuticals, all the packing in the world can be effectively cancelled out if a carrier is inexperienced at handling medications and vaccines.
- Pack it up right: For pharmaceuticals, you’ll need to maintain a certain temperature and also have the right packaging materials, such as insulated foam containers and refrigerated containers.
- Pick the right coolant: Part of the proper packing process also includes picking a reliable right coolant (dry ice, ice packs or gel packs). Dry ice works best for keeping things frozen and gel packs work best for maintaining a certain temperature.
- Keep an eye on things: If you’re in the pharmaceuticals transportation business, adding a temperature monitor into the packaging is another way to make sure a certain temperature is maintained while you’ve got items in transit.
- Know the rules: Shipping for cool items like pharmaceuticals will likely be subject to some regulations and it’s important to know exactly what those are. The last thing you want is to get hit with a violation because you don’t have everything in order when it comes to truckload freight.
- Go with fast shipping: When looking at cold shipping solutions for essential items, overnight shipping is a great option for getting things to places and getting them there fast.
- Track the shipment: Once you’ve sent your shipment on its way, make sure to get a tracking number so you can keep track of it.
As the global pharmaceutical industry continues to grow, the need for effective logistics such as truckload logistics will too. Having a coordinated supply chain will help your company ship items more effectively and finding sensible cold shipping solutions will keep your items safe, cool and into the hands of customers much faster.