The distribution process of sensitive biopharmaceuticals and cell therapies is an intricate one that calls for enough understanding of the product, being familiar with the latest technologies, and most of all, the perfect ratio combined of global reach with local knowledge.
In addition to the pharmaceutical industry’s service to target and treat simple and chronic diseases more effectively, they take into account such products that can raise higher revenues and are less likely to suffer competition when they become off-patent. They preferably move on to the cold chain process which involves the vigilant transportation of temperature-sensitive products as they comply with their supply chain through thermal and refrigerated packaging methods and even more, the logistical planning to enable the integrity of these shipments. Across the elongated line, there are plenty of means in which cold chain products can be transported, including refrigerated trucks and railcars, refrigerated cargo ships, reefers as, air cargo and so forth.
It seems that a cold chain is much more than a shipping procedure. If well put, it’s a science, a technology, and an undervalued process. We call it science as it requires a deep-seated knowledge of the chemical and biological processes linked with perishability. A technology, because it relies on physical means to regulate temperature conditions along the supply chain. Those who are unacquainted with its real importance define it as a process since it performs a series of tasks to prepare, store, transport, and monitor temperature-sensitive products.
A cold chain process involves the following rudimentary elements:
- Cooling systems- Setting up commodities such as food to the appropriate temperature for the eventual processing, storage, and transportation.
- Cold storage– Offering a range of facilities for the storage of goods over a while, either estimating its shipping time to a distant market, at an intermediary location for processing and distribution and close to the market for delivery.
- Cold transport– Keeping conveyances to move the bulk of goods (regular and temperature-sensitive commodities) while stabilising its required temperature and humidity conditions, meanwhile protecting their integrity.
- Cold processing and distribution- Assisting in core facilities for the transformation and handling of goods as well as implementing necessary sanitary conditions. The process also takes care of consolidating and deconsolidation loads (crates, boxes, pallets) for distribution.
As well as the temperature-controlled movement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies is the latest trend than the shipping of refrigerated or frozen food. Since the 1950s, cold chain pharma logistics third party companies boomed and busted new methods for successfully transporting the temperature-sensitive commodities all over the world. Before their advent, cold chain processes were managed in house by the manufacturer. In the pharmaceutical industry, for instance, the testing, production, and movement of drugs rely heavily on controlled and uncompromised transfer of shipments. A large portion of the pharmaceutical products that are transported along the cold chain is still in the experiment or developmental phase. Clinical research and trials are another significant part of the industry that costs millions of dollars, but also it experiences a failure rate of around 80%.
As long as the economic development point of view is concerned, the cold chain encourages many developing countries to participate in the global perishable products market either as producers or as consumers. The inflating or deflating growth in income is possible as a result of a higher propensity to consume fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat products. Increasing income levels may cause a notable change in diet with among others a rising demand for fresh fruit and higher value foodstuffs such as meat and fish.
Relatively, the higher costs of the reefer depending on the equipment and monitoring required espouses higher shipping rates. While the prices are not fixed, they vary according to the climate state of the temperature-sensitive cargo. Like if it is frozen (generates a lower rate) or fresh (produce a higher rate).
To make it an entirely profitable deal, a reefer must be utilised 4 to 6 times per year as a revenue-generating movement. However, with the specific trades they service, reefers are either repositioned empty or used as regular containers with their power supply turned off the feature. When any of this happens, they are called as non-operating reefers. Unlike the regular container, a reefer trade is a full container load (FCL) and is considered as point-to-point only. Often there is no consolidation or deconsolidation function carried out in reefer transportation since if combined can increase the risk of damaging what it is carrying.