Pharma demand is driving up delivery performance standards in the air cargo industry

The air cargo industry has been spurring major advances in delivery performance standards, as the global demand for pharma and life science shipments grows.

In the last two years, the number of delivery failures has fallen dramatically on the back of previously unavailable data-sharing mechanisms and the emergence of new technologies, specialists in the cold-chain sector point out.

With a projected compounded annual growth rate of 15 percent over the next five years, the cold-chain segment is set to mushroom, driving up standards and customer expectations, reports UK-based Tower Cold Chain which is deeply invested in the cold-chain air cargo containers sector and has built up a global network of branches, the latest one in Singapore.

Tower specializes in delivering physical and temperature protection anywhere in the world for pharma and life-science products with an inventory of “robust, reliable, and reusable containers” which are now the essential link in the stability of the cold chain.

Tower containers have built-in data-logging devices that monitor external and internal temperatures throughout the container’s journey. With the help of Bluetooth low-energy technology, each logger communicates wirelessly and sends accurate data to the cloud. The company highlights that this allows for in-transit compliance checks and on-delivery sign-off, providing a complete electronic and hard-copy audit trail across the logistics process with complete visibility and transparency for customers.

Growing in popularity as a sustainable method for all types of medical logistics, Passive temperature-controlled containers have contingency built in and provide 120+ hour product protection.

“The pandemic accelerated the need for lean supply chains to ensure the fast and secure delivery of vaccines globally,” points out Suzanne Hagley, the company’s air cargo business development manager.

“This coupled with disrupted manufacturing lead times, labor shortages, and restrictions, has caused many enterprises to quickly adopt supply chain strategies to enable them to become more resilient, sustainable, and collaborative,” she adds.

Many organizations in the air freight world have begun to embrace digital transformation by employing artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics, with the adoption of automated and real-time tracking. “This proactive management of the cold chain is uniquely providing a path for continued understanding and improvements in packaging and delivery methods, especially of thermally reliant pharmaceutical products,” says Tower.

This has resulted in a noticeable decrease in the number of temperature excursions. Further, a noticeable decrease in product waste has been observed along with an improvement in sustainability credentials.
General air cargo is learning from the accurate monitoring of a shipment, which is now possible and is no longer a value-added extra, Hagley points out. “Cold chain monitoring engages the consumer in a more direct, but non-onerous way by utilizing a practical and affordable time- and temperature-monitoring device within each container shipment.”

These developments in the past few years have underscored how turbulent and fast-changing the pharmaceuticals supply chain can be. To provide effective temperature-sensitive control to protect the integrity of the products in the air and on the ground, drug manufacturers require robust, reliable, reusable cold storage solutions.

This gives the peace of mind that, whatever happens in the world, pharmaceuticals will arrive safely, intact, and on time, a statement from Tower stresses.

The specialist cold-chain company also notes that, with the growing prominence for personalized medicines, “we are now beginning to see the advancement of precision therapies in the pharmaceutical cold chain industry.”

Pointing out that one-size fits all approach is not an apt approach to medical intervention, the company in a statement says, “Instead, we’re seeing a move towards bio-specific treatments, tailored to a particular individual’s needs based on their genome. And, with manufacturing adjusting to smaller batch, precision medicines, vendors like Tower who offer temperature-controlled protection must adapt too, as the need for transparent, closely controlled global supply chains demands rise.”

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