Companies around the world and the pharmaceutical sector specially, are working on establishing reliable cold chain transportation processes. This is toensure that products arrive in good condition and remain safe for consumption, regardless of the destination. Despite having efficient processes in place, temperature-controlled transportation has its share of risks that expose products and companies to potential damage and losses. The damage is not just to the company’s reputation but also affects global healthcare assurance. There is an estimated 33 percent loss each year to medicinal supplies due to inadequate temperature-controlled transit. In this aspect, identification of the causes and the means to reduce or eliminate them are the chief challenges for cold chain transportation companies.
Potential Risks Involved
Just like any other logistic features, cold chain transportation also has some major risks involved. We list several in this blog. It is necessary to identify such risks to counter their effects and to develop new strategies to mitigate them in the future.
This is probably the biggest risk due to which the entire supply chain process breaks down. The malfunctions during cold chain transportation can be caused by:
Power Outages– Power cooling systems can break down due to many reasons like unplugging the refrigeration or low power supply. This is more frequent in trucks and other modes of transportation that do not have access to anuninterrupted power supply.
Inadequate Coolant Supply-a coolant (usually liquid or gas) keeps the products in transit cold and secure from spoiling. Mishandling of packaging or a shortage of coolant can expose the products to potential damage.
Other factors-Factors like lack of fuel, lack of cooling material, limited backup energy, and difficulty in finding spare parts contribute to potential risks during cold chain transportation.
It is evident that cold chain transportation has evolved much in recent years due to continuous innovations in technology. However, even the most advanced systems can have shortcomings in them. Uniform proceduresare needed to support the advanced temperature-controlled transit system. For example, even the most advanced and energy-efficient cold transport system is rendered useless if there is no proper port to supply power with the right voltage. With uniform procedures in place, the proper port will be available in locations along the transportation route. Adhering to non-uniform procedures will compromise the logistic process and expose the product to certain dangers.
Fluctuations in macroeconomic factors, environmental policies, regulation, laws, and a number of global, local, and geographical variables all affect the process. This forces the key players involved in cold chain transit to take measures and re-evaluate the level and type of technologies being used, make necessary upgrades, and design contingency plans based on strategic objectives.
Insufficient training, negligent staff, and non-compliance with the established rules/protocols pose a significant threat to the cold chain transportation process. Also, insufficient use of equipment and resources also hinders supply chain processes. Some of the most common human errors present are:
Incorrect Handling of containers that causes damage.
Negligence like leaving the refrigerator door open or setting the wrong temperature.
Mistakes in paperwork that may lead to unnecessary delays or interruptions.
How to Mitigate the Risks
Applying Right Expertise-Having people with the right expertise involved in a cold chain transportation process will reduce human errors. The designing of proper strategies to handle other environmental impacts will help as well. Additionally, bringing home the point that teams should strictly follow rules and regulations will help.
Setting Clear Expectations– Planning in advance can help mitigate the risks considerably as everyone involved understands their roles and duties and manages issues accordingly.
Establishing Standard Operating Procedures(SOPs) -Designing and implementing SOPs for effective cold chain transportation is essential. Making sure everyone follows them is equally important.
Attention during Transit– Special attention during loading and unloading, as well as monitoring vehicle locations and driver activity will help reduce risks for an effective supply chain procedure.