Logistics of the COVID-19 vaccine

Snowman, Blue Dart, DHL and others gear up for the ‘Mission of The Century’

Post By : Basundhara Choudhury
Post Date : November 13, 2020
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With potential vaccine candidates conducting their final and penultimate stage trials, logistics companies across India are gearing up for the herculean task of transporting the vaccine once it is out.

Among the logistics leaders that are preparing for the “mission of the century“, the key names are – Snowman Logistics, Blue Dart Express, Allcargo Logistics, DHL Express and Mahindra Logistics which are investing on ramping up capacities and training their manpower for the tumultuous task ahead.

Blue Dart is gearing up for the mammoth task by building additional conditioning rooms, for storing the vaccines at eight locations. They are Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru, as shared by Ketan Kulkarni, CMO & Head- Business Development, Blue Dart.

The company has assisted various pharma companies in conducting clinical trials in the country with the help of its temperature-controlled logistics (TCL) services.

Snowman Logistics has reserved space for at least 10,000 pallets that will hold 70 million doses of the vaccine across all its locations. Snowman runs 31 temperature-controlled warehousing facilities across the country, offering a total capacity of 108,375 pallets with a fleet of 300 refrigerated trucks.

“We have worked out solutions for small volume locations where there are no cold storages (small towns, taluka, villages etc) and how we can use refrigerated containers, etc for the delivery. We can dedicate close to 200 trucks for this purpose, nationally.”

~Sunil Nair, CEO, Snowman Logistics

“We are already managing vaccine distribution of influenza/swine flu and typhoid. This experience of ours will come in handy while managing COVID-19 vaccine storage and distribution”, added Mr Nair.

“Our company’s capacity utilisation is at 85% now. When the vaccine arrives, the volume would be good enough to involve private entities,” Nair hoped.

Deutsche Post DHL in a recent white paper said that there would be a global requirement of 200,000 pallet shipment and 15 million deliveries in cooling boxes as well as 15,000 flights across various supply chain setups for the vaccine.

“The nature of the supply chain will depend on what kind of vaccine is ultimately successful- there are broadly three kinds of platforms- one that needs storage at close to -80 degrees another in -20 degrees range and third at 2 to 8 degrees. Other things that will determine logistics is the extent of indigenous manufacture and import- likely to be a mix of all. As such what a logistics provider can do is different kinds of scenario planning. DHL Express is doing that. It is also in talks with various stakeholders including pharma companies, suppliers, service providers and of course the government- which is likely to govern the last mile transportation of the vaccine”, said RS Subramanian, Senior Vice president and Managing Director, DHL express.

Even Gati Kausar, a subsidiary of Allcargo logistics, has began discussions with the government and pharmaceutical companies  and  is ready to collaborate with industry association and partners to ensure a seamless distribution of the vaccine.

Gati has a fleet of 120 trucks and a 6,000 plus pallet position and storage in Daruhera, Haryana and Delhi to cater to the cold chain logistics requirement for the transport of the vaccine.

Rampraveen Swaminathan, MD & CEO, Mahindra Logistics said that they are in talks with a few companies to gauge how they can involve them in the actual vaccine delivery.

“We have already begun our work as we have started whiteboarding thoughts and partnerships one can look at; either with the global freight forwarders or ‘Lords Freight’ our own freight forwarding business and also the domestic supply chain.”

~ Rampraveen Swaminathan, MD & CEO, Mahindra Logistics

Blue Star Limited, a commercial refrigeration manufacturer, said it has cast aside raw material to cater to demand for cold rooms. “In addition to our regular production, we have kept raw material ready for cold rooms. Even if the quantity doubles versus our regular supply, we are ready. We have planned additional shifts between December 2020 and April 2021,” shared B Thiagarajan, Managing Director of the company.

Some of these companies are also in talks with pharma companies such as Serum Institute of India to scale up a logistics and transportation plan, as shared by sources.

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