"The pandemic pushed pharmaceutical and cold chain industries to work in unprecedented ways to innovate through vaccine development, temperature-controlled packages that met the needs of new deep-frozen vaccine storage and increased demand for existing products." - Dave Williams, Pharma Times, Cold chain in 2021
Throughout 2021 and into this year, the importance of cold chain technology and compliance became increasingly important throughout the popular media, with major news sources giving layperson-friendly overviews of the cold chain related to vaccines. However, there have also been other cold chain trends that have come about since early 2020. In this blog, we'll be going over a few of these key trends and developments.
The Importance of the Clinical Cold Chain
According to Supply Chain Brain, "The defining issue for the supply chain in 2021 will be the vaccine distribution effort." Another individual cited in Healthcare IT News noted, "Make no mistake, this might be the most complex supply chain problem ever imagined."
Not only do COVID-19 vaccines require cold storage, but this can vary by vaccine type. As SCB rightly points out, the will be increasing challenges as requirements change and evolve as times go on.
Additionally, MachineDesign reports that due to vaccine distribution's importance and priority, vaccine rollout will likely result in some delays and a decrease in storage capacity in other areas.
Last-mile deliveries will also become increasingly important. Pharma Times notes that it is common for medical clinical trials to offer patients the opportunity to receive medical care at home or ship out samples from their homes. They predict that the number of healthcare options available at home will extend beyond clinical trials. Services involving drugs or sample collection which require refrigeration may require increased solutions and bandwidth in this area.
Supply Chain Resilience
Supply chain resilience has gained increased importance over the past year, and it has a strong application to the transportation of critical vaccines. Forbes highlights that it is essential to ensure to account for and avoid natural hazards, monitor effectively, and have backup infrastructure in place. Security Magazine highlights the importance of digitization and security, citing disruptions by cyber criminals as a vulnerability.
An Increased Need For Cold-Chain Solutions For Home Deliveries
Additionally, this year's cold chain trends go beyond vaccines. It is well-known that as a result of stay-at-home advisories and lockdowns, there was a steep rise in e-commerce. For products such as medicines, groceries, and cosmetics, cold chain can be critical not just in the final mile but after the point of delivery. Since not all consumers work from home, temperature-sensitive orders must be protected against the elements.
To this end, Walmart has begun testing temperature-controlled boxes in Arkansas to serve customers better. Other retailers have also adopted solutions to protect customer medical, food, and cosmetic products, ranging from IoT solutions and mobile apps to storage locker locations.
We predict an increased level of focus on this area, especially later in the year, if more individuals begin to return to work or adopt a "hybrid" work/home schedule.
Want to learn more about cold chain technology? Check out our blogs on the Vehicle Intelligence Hub and how it helps maintain cold chain compliance, and be sure to follow us on, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.