In a year in which the transportation industry has been radically impacted by the pandemic, it now appears that yet another supply chain crisis is on the way, once again courtesy of COVID-19. And it’s all got to do with cold chain logistics.
Cold chain logistics, the transportation and storage of cargo that must be refrigerated or frozen at certain temperatures, is most often associated with food. Consider dairy, fruit, poultry, and the many other consumables that require climate-controlled environments in order to stay fresh. But it looks like pharmaceuticals, not food, will be at the center of the upcoming cold chain crisis.
In the near future, we anticipate that medical experts will succeed at creating a vaccine for COVID-19. Currently, there are about 160 vaccines being developed in a race to see who can crack the code first. Regardless of which version of the vaccine prevails, one thing is all but certain: the drug will require cold storage. This means that a tremendous amount of cold chain assets (storage space, climate-controlled trucks, trained personnel, etc.) will be needed for the successful distribution of the vaccine.
However, it appears that the demand for cold storage may outweigh the supply. Researchers have estimated that upwards of 12 billion doses will be required, as the drug may require two doses to grant immunity. Some industry experts are predicting that the world simply doesn’t have enough cold chain assets to move and store the vaccine effectively.
What does all this mean? It certainly seems to indicate that cold storage could soon become a coveted resource. In light of this, large supply chain firms are investing in cold chain assets. UPS is currently expanding its cold storage offerings with two “freezer farms” specifically for the prospective vaccine.
When it comes to preserving the integrity of temperature-sensitive goods, there is no room for error. If a refrigerated/frozen vaccine is left out for too long, it could compromise the sample and become hazardous to use. This is why our team is highly trained to properly handle cold chain cargo without wasting a second.
So, what should you do in light of all this? Here are 3 steps you should take to get your cold chain affairs in order:
- Get to know your service providers: Every logistics provider doesn’t offer cold storage/transport. Begin now to build relationships with logistics firms who can assist in your cold chain needs. As cold chain assets become harder to access, you’ll want your network to be established.
- Understand the details: Cold chain logistics is not a “one size fits all” situation. Different perishable goods require a wide range of temperatures. Some craft beers are stored around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while a life-saving vaccine might require sub-zero temperatures. Understanding the details of cold storage can help you make informed decisions that make the most sense for your specific needs.
- Brace for impact: It’s seemingly unavoidable that the cold chain is going to get a bit crazy in the near future. But, no need to panic or overreact. Just prepare yourself to be flexible in what will likely be an unprecedented situation. A proactive mindset will go a long way in setting you up for success when things get hectic.
At Easley Transportation (Memphis, TN), we have nearly 40,000 sq. ft. of refrigerated warehouse space. Combined with our refrigerated trucks and trained professionals, this makes us well equipped to handle your cold chain needs. Click here to learn more.