I’ve been thinking about cold temperatures lately—not cold weather, but instead, cold chain transportation. That’s because I’ve seen several announcements lately detailing how companies are improving their abilities to meet customers’ evolving cold chain transportation requirements.

For example, last month, Millstone Medical Outsourcing, a provider of customized outsourcing solutions for the medical device industry, announced it will provide freezer storage and cold chain distribution services for customers’ biologic products from the Memphis, TN, facility. That operation is already a Federal Drug Administration (FDA) registered and state- licensed human tissue bank, authorized to store and distribute human tissue and bone products. Next year, the company will offer cold chain product management services so customers can document validated cold chain integrity and compliance for their biologic product shipments.

The second announcement came from AcuTemp Thermal Systems, a manufacturer of active and passive temperature-controlled solutions used to transport drugs and biologic products. The company is expanding its network of global representatives and distributors, and the newest sales and service locations in its global network include: Wael Pharmacy in Bahrain; QualiChain Consultoria Industrial in Brazil; Care Biosystems in Mumbai, India; JJ Biotek in Bangalore, India; Systems and Services in New Delhi, India; Tareq Co. in Kuwait; United Horizon Company in Iraq; Samir Group in Saudi Arabia; and Y.H. Biotek in Taiwan.

As an article from Pharmaceutical Commerce points out, from a manufacturing perspective, getting pallet-sized loads of product into these countries is not extraordinarily challenging. However, going the next step, to deliver product locally, can be quite challenging. AcuTemp has extensive experience supplying containers for blood collection and delivery, which occurs in-country as well as being an exported product. Its product line includes passive (gel pack-based) containers as well as battery-powered active ones, and these latter containers are the ones that are proving adaptable to local conditions, the article explains.

Some of the systems can be solar-powered, which is an especially attractive offering for some of the hottest regions in the world, says Paul Kovarovic, VP of business development at AccuTemp.

Finally, UPS recently announced it has launched UPS Temperature True, a door-to-door cold chain transportation and monitoring service in Asia. According to UPS, trained agents will monitor shipment milestones 24/7 through UPS’s control towers around the world, and if risk is detected, pre-determined contingency plans will immediately be activated to mitigate risk of damage or loss.

The new service will ensure that vaccines, biologics, and other temperature-sensitive healthcare shipments arrive at their destination without compromise, says Craig Foster, senior vice president, Supply Chain and Healthcare Logistics, UPS Asia Pacific. Consequently, it will minimize one of the highest healthcare cost elements: waste due to product spoilage.

In other UPS cold chain transportation news, since Asian companies typically cite regulatory compliance, cost, and waste as their chief challenges, the company has worked with industry and governmental regulating bodies to develop a solution. That is: PharmaPort 360, a specially-designed airfreight container for healthcare cold chain transportation. It is designed to handle temperature-sensitive products and address the key industry issue of safeguarding these shipments, according to UPS.

Product losses from temperature excursions and mounting scrutiny from regulatory authorities compel healthcare companies to strengthen supply chain compliance and gain more control through shipment data, says Lim Bee Koong, director, Healthcare Strategy, UPS Asia Pacific. Having the information to prove that the integrity of a vaccine has been preserved in-transit, for example, is almost as critical as the contents of the package, Lim says.

This obviously isn’t all that’s happening in cold chain transportation. But I do find it interesting that all of the announcements were made within a week or so of each other. Do you think companies are responding to your requirements? What other challenges do you see?