Using tracking & data to deliver the first line of defence in life science logistics


Robert Pagan, Packaging Solutions Engineer at global life science logistics specialists Biocair, believes that complex location tracking and condition monitoring in conjunction with predictive modelling technologies is the future of life science logistics. These tools will become an essential component of life science packaging in the near future, as they can provide clarity where human communication falls short.

Logistics and packaging are a complex and challenging part of life sciences, but essential if waste is to be avoided in what is a time-sensitive and temperature-controlled environment.

Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) underlines the global challenges the industry needs to overcome. The WHO reports approximately 50% of vaccines globally are wasted, including the COVID-19 vaccine. A proportion of those damaged during transit and storage is due to cold chain malfunction.

The combination of a greater risk of future pandemics, the climate crisis and an increasing reliance on personalised treatments, such as cell and gene therapies, are accelerating the need for innovative, sophisticated and validated packaging solutions that can help to mitigate these issues.

So, what can be done to help build insights around temperature excursions and how can these be avoided? One solution is increasing connectivity through monitoring and tracking devices, supported by clear communication between supply chain partners and logistics coordinators. The life science supply chain needs these tools to help promote an understanding of where temperature excursions occur and how to overcome them.

By utilising location tracking and the 5G wireless network, comprehensive live monitoring of a shipment can be facilitated, highlighting and identifying delays on a route that may increase transit time, and in turn contribute to consignment damage.

To fully understand where temperature excursions occur and what external factors have impacted the performance of packaging, we need to carefully look at and analyse data.

Having full sight of a shipment during transit enables specialists to intervene at the time of an excursion or take preventative measures, while improved customer visibility means increased confidence in the security and On-Time In-Full (OTIF) arrival of their materials.

This level of detail enables the logistics team to develop solutions that reduce or prevent the likelihood of an excursion happening by identifying preferred transit lanes and making informed decisions when selecting airlines and couriers.

Ultimately, increasing industry-wide availability and use of condition monitoring technologies will help to prevent cold chain malfunction and increase OTIF rates to improve patient safety.

To discover more about the future of cold chain packaging, read Biocair’s latest thought leadership insight Packaging: the first line of defence in life science logistics.