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Adapting to Climate Change Challenges in the Cold Chain

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Adapting to Climate Change Challenges in the Cold Chain

Climate change is a multifaceted challenge, forcing businesses to adapt to a new reality governed by rising global temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns. Cold chains are particularly vulnerable to these disruptions, underscoring the importance of adopting resilient strategies capable of withstanding the impact shocks. 

Managing Supply Chains is More Challenging Than Ever

It’s no secret that maintaining sustainable supply chains is becoming increasingly difficult. Increasing freight prices, labor shortages and port congestions are just some of the mainstay challenges suppliers have to deal with in 2024. For instance, freight rates from China to the West Coast jumped by over $2,300 between January and February.

The escalating impacts of climate change — rising sea levels, soaring temperatures and depleted waterways — increasingly threaten the production and delivery of goods. Extreme weather events cause significant damage to critical infrastructure like ports, warehouses and roads, leading to increased downtime.

Because of the interconnected nature of global supply chains, disruptions in one region can have a ripple effect on the entire logistics network of another area. The drought affecting the Panama Canal is a stark reminder of the disruptive power of climate change.

Maintaining Cold Chain Integrity

The effects of climate change are decidedly more pronounced across the cold chain. For instance, heat waves can affect the efficiency of warehousing and transportation. Floods and wildfires make roads inaccessible, leading to delivery delays and heightening the risk of item degradation while in transit. Shipping temperature-sensitive items like food and vaccines securely is crucial to tackling food scarcity, preventing waste, and supporting agricultural livelihoods worldwide.

However, each step of the chain — refrigerators, industrial chillers and transportation — considerably contributes to climate change. For example, cold storage facilities must maintain temperatures as cold as -122˚ Fahrenheit to preserve the integrity of certain pharmaceuticals. It takes significant energy to achieve and sustain such conditions, which eventually take a toll on the environment. 

Climate Risk Management for Resilient Cold Chains 

Supply chains are responsible for around 60% of all carbon emissions globally, further prompting the need for decisive action toward mitigation and adaptation. Managing climate risk begins with identifying exposure.

Companies and stakeholders at each touch point across cold chains must account for inherent risk factors in daily operations. For instance, refrigerated warehouses in flood-prone areas could prompt businesses to change existing processes or relocate certain operations entirely.

Exploring options such as shortening the value chain or adopting newer technologies could also help minimize climate-driven impacts. Recent research shows cooling systems account for 44.1% of energy consumption in cold storage facilities, but simple measures like multiple compressor systems and capacity grading can lead to over 30% savings.

Larger suppliers and shipping firms can facilitate sustainable cold chain practices by maintaining climate-friendly criteria and requiring partners to do the same. This approach can create a trickle-down effect, gradually reforming the supply chain. Obviously, additional costs will be associated with such changes, but once the bigger players start to do it, their competitors will have no choice but to follow suit.

Adopting innovations like AI and IoT sensors can also help brands and transporters manage climate risks. For example, AI can help with route optimization by aggregating weather pattern data and suggesting the best journey times for deliveries to minimize disruptions. Additionally, real-time tracking and monitoring provide increased visibility into supply chains, enabling shipping enterprises to respond promptly to climate-related interruptions. 

Nature-Focused Planning 

Resilient cold chains require coordination on a local and global scale. Businesses must be mindful of the importance of nature in supporting supply chains and safeguarding environmental wellbeing.

Renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and eco-friendly packaging are critical to reducing the sector’s carbon footprint, facilitating more sustainable logistics operations in the long run. These considerations will likely be among the biggest drivers of capital allocation decisions in the coming years. 

Public Sector Reforms 

Regulations surrounding sustainability efforts will be critical in supporting a climate-resilient cold chain. Everything has to work in sync, with policymakers providing the right incentives to motivate change and companies doubling down on their eco-conscious practices.

There also needs to be improved levels of scrutiny around compliance with climate regulations to foster increased corporate accountability, especially concerning environmental impact reporting. Only 36% of companies disclosed their Scope 3 emissions — indirect emissions occurring in their respective value chains. With stringent disclosure requirements, governments can proactively address climate risks in supply chains and curb the menace of greenwashing.

Building More Sustainable and Resilient Supply Chains 

The data is undeniable — extreme weather, depleted waterways and rising temperatures are disrupting global cold chains to their very foundations. The frequency and severity of these events make resilience and adaptability paramount considerations for the industry’s future. By investing in climate-friendly infrastructure, adopting energy-saving technologies and fostering nature-driven collaborations, the logistics sector can build a robust foundation for sustainability and resilience across the value chain.


Ergodyne Unveils Cutting-Edge Thermal Gear to Meet Rising Demands in the Cold Storage Sector

In response to the burgeoning needs of the rapidly growing cold storage sector, Ergodyne has introduced four innovative thermal solutions meticulously designed for work crews in refrigerated facilities. The surge in cold storage warehouse construction, driven by increased demand for frozen food, pharmaceuticals, and delicate chemicals reliant on refrigerated infrastructure, has prompted the development of this specialized gear.

Claudia Weber, Product Manager at Ergodyne, emphasized the company’s commitment to addressing the safety and well-being of workers in this critical sector. The goal was to create thermal gear that not only ensures exceptional warmth and safety but also provides clarity in the complex world of thermal ratings. Ergodyne collaborated closely with cold storage professionals to develop products that meet the real-world demands of those facing extreme cold conditions daily, offering education on the various factors influencing thermal performance.

The new thermal solutions include N-Ferno 6475 Insulated Freezer Coveralls, 6476 Insulated Freezer Jacket, and 6477 Insulated Freezer Bib Overalls, all rated to -50°F (-46°C) for up to five hours of moderate activity. These products feature a durable 100% ripstop polyester shell with a water-resistant coating, 200g 3M™ Thinsulate™ insulation for warmth, and convenient details like oversized pockets, D-rings, mic tabs, and pen holders.

Complementing the lineup is ProFlex 850 Insulated Freezer Gloves, rated to -20°F (-29°C) for up to one hour of moderate activity. These gloves provide a balance of warmth and dexterity, touchscreen-friendly design for handheld scanners or smartphones, and a sure-handed silicone grip on fingers and palms.

Weber highlighted that Ergodyne’s expert-driven design incorporated insights from workers in cold storage environments to ensure the gear’s practicality and effectiveness. The company aims to transparently communicate thermal ratings, acknowledging the variability influenced by individual factors and worksite conditions.

As sub-zero temperatures present only one of the many hazards in warehousing and distribution centers, Ergodyne’s comprehensive safety efforts align with OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations. The safety initiatives cover various aspects, including ergonomics, slips and falls, hand protection, housekeeping, and more.

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Cold Chain Heroes: Temperature Controlled Packaging’s Humanitarian Impact

The global temperature controlled vaccine packaging market size is projected to be worth US$ 917.1 Million in 2023. The market is likely to surpass US$ 2,016.9 Million by 2033 at a CAGR of 8.2% during the forecast period.

The historical market for temperature-controlled vaccine packaging demonstrates the evolution of packaging options to fulfil the specialized storage and transportation requirements of vaccines. The transition from traditional cold chain approaches to more advanced and specialized packaging solutions has been the historic market outlook. Vaccines were previously kept and transported primarily using traditional refrigeration techniques, such as cold rooms and refrigerated trucks. However, as the necessity for exact temperature ranges became apparent, the market shifted towards temperature-controlled packaging solutions. Insulation is critical in keeping vaccinations within the prescribed temperature range by reducing temperature swings and heat transmission. Innovative insulation materials, such as expanded polystyrene (EPS), polyurethane foam, and vacuum-insulated panels, have been developed to improve heat resistance and temperature stability.

Driving Factors Propelling the Demand for Global Temperature Controlled Vaccine Packaging Market Include:

The worldwide emphasis on vaccine development and immunization programs, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, has raised demand for temperature-controlled vaccine packaging.

Future Market Insights says, The biopharmaceutical market, which includes vaccine development and production, has seen substantial expansion. The burgeoning biopharmaceutical industry’s requirement for specialized packaging solutions to ensure vaccine integrity is driving up demand for temperature-controlled vaccine packaging.

Advances in technology in temperature-controlled packaging solutions have spurred market demand. Integration of smart features such as temperature sensors, real-time monitoring, and data loggers give greater visibility and maintain temperature integrity.

Major Restraint Factors Holding Back the Global Temperature Controlled Vaccine Packaging:

Due to their size and fragility, some temperature-controlled packaging options, such as active refrigeration systems, may necessitate a significant amount of storage space and cautious handling. Thus, the logistical constraints associated with these packaging solutions can pose a significant restraint.

The lack of well-established cold chain infrastructure can make preserving vaccination temperature integrity difficult, especially in remote and underserved locations.

Certain insulating materials and refrigeration systems may contribute to carbon emissions or trash generation. Through the development of more sustainable and eco-friendly options, there is an increasing need to strike a balance between preserving temperature integrity and minimizing the environmental impact of packaging solutions.

Parallel Growth Opportunities Are Witnessing for Market Growth:

The growing demand for temperature-controlled vaccinations has prompted the expansion of cold chain logistics infrastructure. This includes the creation of specialized packaging solutions, temperature-monitoring devices, and transportation systems capable of preserving vaccine integrity throughout the supply chain.

The requirement for effective temperature-controlled vaccine packaging has fostered packaging material innovation. Advanced materials with improved insulation qualities, such as vacuum-insulated panels, phase change materials, and researchers and producers are investigating advanced foam technologies. These materials can assist in keeping vaccines at the correct temperature range throughout storage and transit, reducing the risk of deterioration.

The parallel growth prospect is the incorporation of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and sensors within vaccine packaging. Smart packaging solutions can enable real-time temperature monitoring, location tracking, and even warning signs of potential temperature excursions or manipulation.

Vaccine tourism, in which people travel to acquire vaccines in countries where supplies are plentiful, has developed as a distinct growth area. This growth creates opportunity for specialized packaging providers to respond to vaccine tourists’ needs.

The growing use of data-driven analytics and predictive modelling approaches has the potential to improve vaccination packaging and delivery. Companies can detect potential dangers and implement proactive actions to mitigate them by analyzing past data on temperature excursions, transportation routes, and packaging performance.

Latest Key Trends Propelling in Temperature Controlled Vaccine Packaging Market

The convenience, simplicity of distribution, and reduced waste, single-dose vaccination packaging is gaining popularity. Individual packaging removes the need for multi-dose vials, which might be difficult to keep at the proper temperatures after they’ve been opened. Single-dose packaging also decreases contamination risk and enables more targeted vaccine administration. Packaging companies are concentrating their efforts on developing small, secure, and temperature-stable packaging options for single-dose vaccines.

A notable trend is the incorporation of intelligent and connected technologies within vaccine packaging. Smart packaging solutions with IoT sensors and real-time monitoring capabilities allow temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors to be tracked during storage and transportation.

As vaccination programs spread to increasingly decentralized locations, such as rural areas and community clinics, there is a greater need for portable temperature-controlled packaging options. These systems allow healthcare staff to transfer vaccines safely to remote locations and administer them in a controlled setting.

Future Market Outlook global Temperature Controlled Vaccine Packaging Market

The global temperature controlled vaccine packaging market outlook is distinguished by extraordinary growth potential. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the market to unprecedented heights, needing large-scale vaccine manufacture, distribution, and administration on a global scale. The advent of COVID-19 vaccines with specific temperature needs, such as mRNA vaccines, has highlighted the critical importance of temperature-controlled packaging. Forecast market growth is expected to be sustained as global immunization efforts continue and governments prioritize the creation of robust cold chain infrastructure. Furthermore, the advent of new infectious illnesses, as well as a greater emphasis on preventative healthcare, are projected to fuel the market demand

Country-wise Insights

USA Expected Notable Growth Potential in Temperature Controlled Vaccine Packaging Market

The United States has significant growth potential in the global temperature controlled vaccine packaging market, as the country has a strong and advanced healthcare system that includes extensive vaccine research, development, and production capabilities. The country’s large cold chain infrastructure, well-established logistics networks, and high regulatory standards all contribute to the country’s potential for growth. With the continued emphasis on immunization programs and the requirement for temperature controlled vaccine delivery, demand for specialized packaging solutions in the United States is projected to rise.

China is Account Significant Market Share in Temperature Controlled Vaccine Packaging Market

As the world’s most populous country, China has a significant demand for vaccines to suit its population’s healthcare demands. China has made significant expenditures in temperature-controlled packaging solutions to ensure the efficacy and quality of its vaccines, as part of its strong focus on healthcare and research. Chinese companies specializing in temperature controlled packaging have risen to prominence, offering a vast range of creative packaging solutions to meet the needs of various vaccines. Furthermore, China’s strategic actions to expand its cold chain logistics infrastructure and distribution networks have strengthened its position in the global temperature controlled vaccine packaging market.

India Owns a Strong Market Base for Temperature Controlled Vaccine Packaging Market

Several significant factors contribute to India’s strong market position in the worldwide temperature-controlled vaccine packaging industry. India has a comprehensive healthcare infrastructure as well as a network for vaccine manufacture and delivery. As India’s competence in medicines and healthcare, a vibrant ecosystem of temperature-controlled packaging companies has grown. The government’s strong emphasis on immunization programs, as well as its commitment to improving healthcare access, drive demand for temperature controlled vaccine packaging solutions.

cold supply chain

Cold Robots Revolutionize Cold Chain Logistics!

The labor attraction to the cold chain facilities is not growing, however, the market does. The global cold storage market size was valued at USD 138.97 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.2% from 2023 to 2030. Therefore, the cold chain turns to automation to meet internal productivity needs and customer expectations and that’s where mobile robots play an essential role.

Efficiency in every way

‘Efficiency’ here has several connotations. There is the efficient use of the available space. Many cold stores are quite small – often ‘cold rooms’ within larger buildings. But demand for cold space, from private companies’ own facilities to ‘public’ stores operated by a 3PL for multiple customers, is increasing. In the food chain in particular, companies from processors to distributors and retailers are looking for larger facilities – the Cold Chain Federation (CCF) has identified 678 units of over 50,000 square feet, and there are many that are much larger still. But cold stores are expensive to build and equip, and although the CCF recently estimated that some 16.7 million square feet of new space is under construction or being fitted out, that may not meet increased demand, especially as so much of the existing stock (34%) is over 25 years old and some of this is converted, not always very effectively, from other uses.
Cold stores must also be efficient in operation, which is key at a time of gas and electricity bills rising remorselessly. Although a well-built, equipped and run cold store uses a lot less energy than is commonly supposed, there is still an imperative to improve storage density and operations to minimize the heat coming in through open doors. And contrary to popular opinion, cold chain warehousing is not usually about minimally manned, long-term, bulk storage. Many cold chains move goods in and out of stores rapidly and involve all the break-bulk, order-picking, stock rotation and other operations familiar to ambient warehousing. That has to be performed just as efficiently and productively but in much more arduous conditions.

This means that labor, too, has to be deployed efficiently. In November, the Cold Chain Federation noted “10 percent to 20 percent shortage rates” among its members. The pool of workers prepared to perform arduous, even hazardous, tasks in cold conditions is decreasing. In addition, there is an increasing realization of the need to limit the length of time that workers spend in the cold before taking a break in warmer areas, and of the long-term impacts of heavy manual tasks in cold conditions.

 Overcoming technical issues

Given all this, the cold store would seem an obvious arena for the introduction of automation. But this is not without its problems. There are technical issues – operation at low, and especially sub-zero, temperatures, can embrittle and otherwise degrade materials including metals, plastics and rubber tires. Electric and electronic components can be affected by ice and condensation. Batteries, in particular, have degraded performance and shorter lives at low temperatures. Fixed mechanization, such as conveyors, takes up refrigerated space that isn’t being used to store the goods. There are safety and operational issues too – it isn’t easy to perform complex control operations or to ensure that people are adequately protected from machinery when workers are wearing heavy and cumbersome protective clothing and both their physical and mental agility may be compromised by the low temperatures alongside the hazards of condensation and ice.

Not all AMRs can work in cold storage. iFollow, however, has a range of robots for cold chain logistics that transport from 300 kg to 1500 kg payload down to -25°C and is specific to the cold store environment. This is due to its approach to safeguarding electronics and batteries. The temperature of key electronic components is regulated by an iFollow-developed servo system which eliminates condensation (and therefore, icing,) at temperatures as low as -25° – a particular issue when moving regularly between cold and temperate spaces. This also means that battery life is not degraded. Depending on the size of AMR, between 12 and 18 hours of autonomous operation are available from a 2-hour charge time. Fewer battery charges or changes obviously improve productivity, but also reduce the space needed for recharging.

 Using AMRs rather than ride-on vehicles eliminates the known hazards of the latter – present in any warehouse operation but exacerbated in cold and slippery conditions. Specialized cold-store standard trucks are also not cheap.

Operator control is also suited to cold store conditions. It is not reasonable to expect workers to input complex instructions while wearing heavy gloves or to require them to take their gloves off for extended periods. The Mycelium WCS software from iFollow, which is compatible with all available WMS/ERP systems, can be used through any computer or tablet with most instructions available through just one or two clicks.

AMRs do not require the segregated space of conveyor-based systems and they can turn in their own footprint, unlike most AGVs which require a defined bend to corner. This maximizes storage space, or to put it another way, minimizes the volume of fresh air being refrigerated. Also unlike AGVs, AMRs do not require semi-permanent predefined pathways, thus allowing more flexible use of warehouse space. They also do not require especially smooth and even floors – an issue with some older or converted cold stores – indeed, the implementation doesn’t usually require any expensive infrastructure at all.

An ability for an AMR to carry two roll cages at once, to a maximum load of 1,500kg offers an advantage, particularly in the cold store environment because it reduces the number of times doors have to be opened and closed. That not only reduces energy loss and minimizes the potential for condensation, but reduces the hazard from the, typically, fast-acting cold store doors.

Collaborative order picking 

The AMRs are designed with safe, collaborative use in mind. Lidar navigation prevents the vehicle from colliding with permanent fixtures, with goods left blocking aisles, or of course with the attendant workforce (who, clad in thermal headgear, may not always be aware of the traffic around them). The typical maximum speed is 1.7m/s – a brisk walking pace – with linear and angular speeds and accelerations closely controlled.

 In typical order-picking use, one operator might work with two AMRs within a defined pick zone, selecting items to roll cages or destinations. The operator can receive pick-list instructions by voice terminal, RF terminal or tablet, and of course, the AMRs are simultaneously receiving their complementary movement instructions. Picking this way can yield 50% better productivity than the conventional manual approach while optimizing the picker’s movements. AMRs can equally be used for the variety of shuttle movements required in the store, moving goods between locations. Through an intuitive fleet management interface, the scenario can be simply generated, and the robotic system works out the movements required.

AMRs, then, can improve the efficient use of cold store space both by increasing productivity and minimizing ‘wasted’ space. The latter, along with reduced door openings, helps with energy efficiency, as does the non-degrading battery performance. The efficiency of scarce and increasingly expensive labor is maximized, and perhaps most importantly, the safety and welfare of both goods and staff are addressed. There is a clear logic in letting AMRs carry the load in cold stores.

Lödige Industries, the world's leading provider of air cargo terminal solutions, has completed an automated Cold Chain Pallet-Cargo

Lödige Industries Finalizes Automated Cold-Chain Pallet-Cargo System for AAT COOLPORT at Hong Kong International Airport

Lödige Industries, the world’s leading provider of air cargo terminal solutions, has completed an automated Cold Chain Pallet-Cargo System at Hong Kong International Airport.  Via its Hong Kong office, the German company, planned, manufactured and implemented the advanced system for AAT COOLPORT, which is the first on-airport cold chain facility in Hong Kong providing a complete temperature-controlled environment, operated by Asia Airfreight Terminal (AAT). Supported by the tailor-made pallet moving solution, the operator can maintain strictly regulated cold chains seamlessly and respond to the increasing global demand for temperature-sensitive air transports.

The customized and automated material handling system is designed for fast and safe transport of temperature-sensitive goods inside the cold chain facility. Modern and climate-resistant sensors in combination with an enhanced maintenance and control system ensure an efficient and safe flow of fragile goods.

Lödige Industries was awarded the contract for the project because it met both the high-quality requirements for stringent cold chain regulations and was able to achieve short turnaround timelines. The market for temperature-sensitive goods, like pharmaceuticals, and perishables, is currently the strongest growing market in air freight worldwide. Given the rapid planning and implementation of the automated ULD handling system, AAT is able to meet the rapidly growing demand of its customers for temperature-sensitive air cargo as well as strict cold chain regulations.

The contract was awarded in June 2021 and AAT COOLPORT has been serving the industry since July 2022. Lödige Industries has a proven track record given its numerous material handling system projects in Asia (e.g., at the airports of Singapore or Chengdu). The company, with regional offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, has a solid understanding of customer needs in the Asian region, and an established network of local partners. In 2006, Lödige Industries handed over a sizeable multi-level material handling system for AAT, with four 43-meter-high elevating transfer vehicles. The new palletized cargo handling system marks another milestone in the long partnership with AAT and further consolidates Lödige Industries’ strong presence and experience in Asia.

About Lödige Industries

Lödige Industries is a leading global supplier of logistics systems with headquarters in Germany. With offices around the world Lödige Industries provides material handling solutions for a wide range of customers. Founded in 1948, the family-owned business specializes in the supply of complex material handling systems from planning, design, programming and commissioning to service.

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4 Ways the IoT Helps Optimize Cold Chain Logistics

Industry 4.0 technology can help to make cold chain logistics much easier to manage. Internet of things (IoT) devices are already used in a wide range of industries to gather real-time information on business processes.

In the cold chain, IoT technology can help businesses track important data on shipments — potentially allowing them to prevent temperature excursions and provide better data to stakeholders.

Here’s how businesses are already using IoT to optimize their cold chain logistics.

1. Temperature Monitoring

A key feature of IoT devices is their ability to monitor the temperatures that cold chain shipments are exposed to.

By attaching an IoT temperature monitor to the outside of a package or pallet, sensors can be used in a variety of transportation modes — including trucks, rail freight or air cargo — to continuously track the temperature of food items, important pharmaceuticals and other items that need cold chain logistics.

These sensors will gather and report this data in real-time. Because IoT sensors can automatically store data on the cloud, all relevant stakeholders can have access to the temperature data that they collect.

In the event that an IoT sensor detects a temperature excursion, an alert system can automatically notify managers, drivers, administrative staff and other workers — allowing them to take action to prevent spoilage.

Stored data can also be used to improve processes, identify bottlenecks and determine fault in the event that an excursion causes spoilage. At any time after a sensor collects temperature data, stakeholders can review captured information and trends — or use analytics software to automatically extract valuable insights from historical temperature data.

IoT temperature tracking devices can also monitor other aspects of a shipment’s journey — for example, a combination vibration, light and temperature sensor can monitor for heat as well as exposure to light, shocks, vibrations and sudden stops.

Many cold chain products don’t just require low temperatures. Many vaccines that need cold chain logistics, for example, may spoil or lose potency if exposed to light. Sudden shocks can also risk damage to vaccine containers and packing materials.

IoT devices that monitor for temperature can also help to monitor for these potential threats.

2. GPS and RFID Shipment Tracking

IoT devices are also excellent at tracking the current location of a shipment or individual product. By using technology like GPS or RFID, it’s possible for an IoT device to gather information on a shipment’s movement.

With GPS, this information will be in real-time. With RFID, the system will depend on RFID readers installed at important locations that continuously scan for RFID tags. These systems will provide instant updates whenever an RFID tagged shipment arrives at a warehouse, fulfillment center, retail location or delivery destination.

These systems can automatically alert stakeholders when an item is on the move, allowing them to track the position of all their shipments, 24/7. The same IoT device can be used to monitor both temperature and location.

The same technology can also help businesses and logistics providers offer better delivery estimates to their clients. With real-time tracking, it’s much easier to accurately forecast when an item will arrive at a destination.

3. Automated Reporting and Cloud Data Storage

Because IoT devices are connected to the internet and can collect data continuously, they can also be used for automatic report-generation and cloud data backups.

For example, data from an IoT device can be automatically delivered to relevant stakeholders or stored for monthly documentation of important information.

In addition to delivering data to the cloud, an IoT device can send information to logistics management platforms, where the information can be analyzed by stakeholders with the help of dashboards and other data visualization tools.

The device can also stream information to AI-powered analytic tools, allowing businesses to use the IoT data to power delivery time or temperature excursion prediction algorithms.

These algorithms can help businesses see a crisis coming based on patterns in IoT data, potentially long before the issue would be obvious to a manager or analyst following the data on their own.

4. Equipment Health Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance

In addition to monitoring shipments directly, IoT devices are also an excellent tool for tracking the performance and health of cold chain equipment — including delivery vehicles, warehouse machinery and even HVAC systems.

Existing IoT performance monitoring systems can track a wide variety of performance and environmental variables. Information from these systems can help businesses track machine performance and health.

For example, an IoT fleet may capture information on a machine’s timing, vibration, temperature and lubrication. If one of these variables leaves its safe operating range, the system can automatically notify site technicians.

IoT devices may also measure local temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, allowing managers of a warehouse or fulfillment center to know if local environmental conditions may be negatively impacting the performance of a site machine.

Equipment monitoring is already a popular application of IoT devices in many industries, meaning that cold chain logistics professionals wanting to adopt the technology have access to a large and growing market of IoT equipment monitoring solutions.

Experts predict that the market is on track to grow quickly over the next few years, meaning that logistics companies will have access to even more options in the near future.

With enough data, businesses can also use IoT devices to lay the foundation for a predictive maintenance system. These are systems that use AI and IoT machine performance data to predict a machine’s maintenance needs.

By analyzing information collected from IoT devices, it’s possible to predict when a machine will need maintenance or repairs.

These systems can also alert managers when they predict that machine failure is imminent — allowing for an emergency shutdown that can help to prevent significant damage to a machine that may result in more expensive repairs and greater downtime.

How IoT Devices May Help to Transform the Cold Chain

With new IoT devices, cold chain logistics providers may be able to streamline their operations. A fleet of IoT devices can provide crucial information on both shipments and the equipment used to move them.

Cold chain professionals are already using IoT devices to prevent spoilage and more effectively monitor shipments as they move from location to location.

IoT devices can also lay the foundation for predictive analytics algorithms that can accurately predict delivery times or machine maintenance needs


Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers how technology is changing the industry



Life as we know it would not be possible without cold chains. 

By transporting food, pharmaceuticals, and other products from where they are grown or extracted, through the manufacturing process, out to shops and food outlets and, ultimately, onto the end consumer, the cold chain facilitates our existence. 

Unlike goods that can be transported at an ambient temperature range, managing the cold chain is an altogether more specific undertaking that relies on highly specialist skills, technology, facilities, and vehicles. At each stage of a product’s journey, which can involve multiple stakeholders taking responsibility for individual legs, it must be kept at a precise temperate or risk becoming unsafe for consumption. 

Indeed, spoiled food in particular is a major contributor to our global waste problem, which is widely viewed as a climate change catastrophe. 

Staggeringly, the world’s population is estimated to waste one third of all the food it produces. Not only does this put into shameful context the problem of malnourishment seen in the poorest parts of the world, but it also has a massive environmental implication because of unnecessary and inefficient land use.  

However, it is important to consider that in the developing world, food wastage is more a consequence of a lack of robust cold chains as opposed to human wastefulness and consumer habits. In Southern and Southeast Asia, around half of all food waste occurs at storage and distribution stages after harvest and production. In Europe, the figure is closer to 20 percent.

Efficient cold chains–which themselves carry a not insignificant environmental footprint due to energy, diesel and refrigerant gas requirements–are therefore essential to cutting food waste, reducing global hunger and keeping economies and societies supplied with essential goods. 

Indeed, cold chains have been in the spotlight more than usual in recent months thanks to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout occurring across the world. 

Vaccines require an extremely well-monitored transportation and storage environment from the moment they come off the production line to the time they are administered into a patient. If temperatures are too high or too low, the vaccine is in danger of losing its potency which, once lost, cannot be restored. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) sets strict performance standards for storage and transport equipment such as fridges, freezers, cold rooms and cold boxes, while stock management procedures are also subject to WHO guidelines that vary from vaccine to vaccine. 

In the U.S., mature cold chains are playing a fundamental role in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations to populations all over the country, helping them to reach vaccination centers in various environments, from urban epicenters to remote rural communities. 

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several coronavirus vaccines produced by different pharmaceutical companies, among them shots made by Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen. Each requires a different storage temperate, adding an extra layer of complexity to the cold-chain operations responsible for distributing them across the States. 

It is no minor undertaking, reflected by the fact that the worldwide cold chain market was valued at $233.8 billion in 2020, a figure which is predicted to reach more than $340 billion by 2025, driven by a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent. Other estimates suggest the global cold chain industry could be worth as much as $447 billion by this time.

The role of reefer ports

North America’s cold chain market reached a value of $88.5 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow to over $142 billion by 2025.

Underpinning this activity is a network of reefer ports operating up and down the East and West coasts, as well as inland. These are critical transit hubs of varying sizes which house specialist facilities for the storage and onward transportation of cold goods.

In South Carolina, the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is on its way to making the Port of Charleston home of the deepest harbor in the world. 

Set to add an additional seven feet, the new 52-foot depth will enable operator South Carolina Ports Authority (SC Ports) to welcome enormous post-Panamax vessels to its facilities, a move which will only serve to attract more supply chain players, including those with cold chain operations. 

With more life science and consumer goods activity on the horizon, SC Ports has expanded its refrigerated capacity to handle an influx of cold and frozen cargo for a variety of customers. Since 2010, the port operator’s refrigerated cargo business has increased by more than 80 percent for all loaded containers.

Meanwhile, global refrigerated warehousing giant Lineage Logistics, operator of more than 300 sites around the world, has expanded its 180,000-square-foot facility at Palmetto Commerce Park in northern Charleston. A $34 million investment, it underlines the firm’s commitment to building the region’s status as a critical cold chain hub. 

Unveiling the project in September 2020, Greg Lehmkuhl, Lineage Logistics president and CEO, commented: “Charleston has it all–first-rate infrastructure, great access, a top ranked port and a skilled workforce.

“South Carolina’s numerous business advantages, in addition to the booming market, have helped Lineage to better service our export and import customers, as well as our domestic shipping partners. We are thrilled to expand our existing operations in what we believe is the right location at the right time.”

While Charleston represents one of the largest-scale reefer zones in the country, other areas too are making important strides which are adding to their cold chain appeal. Here, we round up developments at two more ports, starting in the Gulf of Mexico at Port Manatee

Bearing fruit in Florida 

Located at the entrance to Tampa Bay, Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deep water seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavy lift, project and general cargo customers. 

It generates more than $3.9 billion in annual economic impact while helping to sustain more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

In the fiscal year ended September 2020, an all-time high of 88,466 TEUs of containerized cargo crossed Port Manatee’s docks, a marked rise of more than 50 percent on the preceding 12-month period and a whopping 230 percent more than 2018 fiscal year volume. Meanwhile, a $8.3 million project which will nearly double the size of its 10-acre dockside container yard is moving toward mid-2021 completion. 

Another key recent development means that Port Manatee is now receiving imports of Central American fruit via the newest energy-efficient refrigerated container ships of long-time port tenant Fresh Del Monte Produce. 

The vessels, of which there are six, have a full cargo capacity of 1,276 TEUs and are fitted with 634 plugs for 40-foot-long high-cube refrigerated containers, or reefers. 

Announcing the development, Carlos Buqueras, executive director of Port Manatee, said: “The new Del Monte vessels represent the latest development in the advancement of Port Manatee as Central and Southwest Florida’s preferred gateway for global commerce. 

“Fruits arriving on these ships further add to the record volumes of containerized cargo crossing Port Manatee docks and underscore the importance of key infrastructure enhancements.”

Del Monte has been a loyal customer since 1989, and will take advantage of the new-generation cold chain ships to bring large volumes of fruit to U.S. shores, including bananas, pineapples and avocados.  

From bananas to blueberries 

Switching over to the western side of America, at the Port of Hueneme, a major new development looks set to provide lucrative savings to companies relying on the Southern California facility’s cold-chain services. 

The port moves $10.85 billion in goods each year and consistently ranks among the top 10 U.S. ports for automobiles and fresh produce, with its operations supporting the surrounding community by catalyzing $1.7 billion of economic activity every year. 

Known as “The Banana Port of the West Coast,” the Port of Hueneme could soon also stand as the most attractive destination for companies exporting and importing blueberries to and from the States. It has housed specialist reefer facilities for many years, but recent upgrades mean it can offer complete treatment of blueberry shipments on-port. 

This new pilot service is the first of its kind on the West Coast and promises to reduce the cost of transporting blueberries, eliminate many tons of greenhouse gases and support local Californian and Peruvian growers.

The new service will begin as a one-year pilot program and will eliminate more than 2.2 million vehicle miles traveled across America. The blueberries will be imported from Peru’s Callao and Paita Ports via the Port of Hueneme, instead of being trucked from the East Coast. This reduction in road mileage will consequently cut air emissions by 3,660 tons of carbon dioxide and 11.56 tons of nitrous oxide during the course of the pilot.

Commenting on the launch of the project, Jess J. Ramirez, president of the Oxnard Harbor District Board that oversees the port, said: “This new opportunity is not only a game changer for our blueberry partners, but also will help reduce air emissions across the U.S. and spur local job creation, a win-win-win.” 

It is pioneering initiatives such as this that will enable cold chain capability and capacity across the U.S. to grow. 

As the nation, and world, responds to a plethora of immediate and long-term crises such as the coronavirus pandemic and growing food waste mountains, cold chains and their associated seaport nodes will only increase their prominence. 

And with the global cold chain market set grow at an annual rate of almost 8 percent over the course of the next four years, ports which continue to invest in reefer facilities look set to cash in. 


The Unique Benefits of a Climate-Controlled Warehouse

Deciding on whether or not to use a climate-controlled warehouse is often tricky. Sure, people know that there are benefits to doing so. But, if you add up the cost, you naturally wonder whether the benefits are worth it. Well, in some instances, they aren’t. But, in some cases, using a climate-controlled storage unit is practically mandatory. So, to make things a bit clearer, we will elaborate on the benefits of a climate-controlled warehouse and when to make use of them.

Top Benefits of a climate-controlled warehouse

Once people see how much climate-controlled storage costs, they are often taken aback. Even relatively simple climate-controlled storage can cost you substantially more than the standard one. And seeing that people are actively looking for ways to reduce warehousing costs, you might be wondering whether climate-controlled warehouses are necessary. Well, in certain instances, they definitely are. All you need to recognize is whether your items can survive without the protection that climate-controlled units provide.

Protection from temperature fluctuations

Even if they are pretty well-built, standard storage units cannot protect you from temperature fluctuations. Thick, well-placed insulation does help. But, it can only go so far in ensuring that the temperature inside the unit stays the same. In certain regions, even day to night changes can be substantial enough to deform or even damage your items. This is one of the reasons why North Carolina got its first In-Port cold storage facility. And why climate-controlled storage is overall necessary.

With a climate-controlled storage unit, you can ensure that the interior temperature remains the same 24/7. This is achieved not only through insulation but also through proper venting and temperature monitoring. Climate-controlled units also have sensors that can tell the workers if the temperature goes above a certain level. So, all in all, the benefit of using one is that you can rest easy knowing that your items will remain at the same temperature throughout storage.

Humidity maintenance

When it comes to certain items, the temperature might not be your primary concern. For instance, if you plan on storing wooden furniture, humidity may pose a much more significant problem. Too much humidity and your furniture can swell up and deform. Too little, and it can start to crack and splinter. To avoid this from happening, climate-controlled units take great care in maintaining the humidity.

Maintaining humidity can be surprisingly difficult in certain areas. If there are constant rains or temperature fluctuations, it can be challenging to keep the excess moisture away from the storage. A common misconception is that dry rooms are best for storage. And while this is often the case, there are exceptions where too much dry air can cause damage. Climate-controlled storage units are set up to maintain a certain level of humidity at all times.

Extra protection from dust and debris

All these extra layers of protection serve another purpose. Namely, they also stand as additional safety measures against dust and debris. Ideally, every warehouse should protect its items against dust and debris. But, the larger they are, the harder it is to notice flaws and cracks. Even a seemingly small crack can cause substantial damage, especially if it goes unnoticed. But, the need to maintain both the temperature and the humidity demands that the storage company keep a close eye on the structural integrity of the storage facility.

In this case, a small crack can show as hundreds of dollars wasted on inefficient climate control. Therefore, the company is extra careful to notice and mitigate any issues the moment they occur. This means installing systems not only to help with warehouse management but also with safety monitoring. As a result, the items stored in climate-controlled units are under much better protection, even if humidity and temperature are not the primary concern.

How to make the most out of your climate-controlled storage

To reap the benefits of a climate-controlled warehouse, it is not enough to simply put your items in it. All these benefits can only help you if you first prepare your items for storage and do the necessary research.

Proper packing

Seeing that you are considering using a climate-controlled storage facility, you probably need to store fragile items. In this case, you first need to pack them properly. This means using proper packing containers, as well as padding and wrapping supplies. While you can use standard cardboard boxes, we would advise you to consider using plastic containers. For long-term use, they are much better as they are sturdy and exceptionally resilient. When it comes to padding and wrapping, you want to do your part in giving your items the necessary protection. Sure, the climate-controlled environment will do its part. But, it is still wise to protect your goods from potential harm.

Consult with your storage providers

If this is your first time using climate-controlled storage, we advise you to consult with your storage providers. More often than not, there are important details specific to your situation. And you not being aware of those details can put your items at unnecessary risk. Explain to your storage providers what you plan to store and how long you wish to store it. They can give you helpful guidelines on how to prepare and how to store.

Get the necessary insurance

Even if you properly prepare and hire the best possible company, you should still get storage insurance. Know that the insurance provided by the storage company might not be enough to adequately cover your items. This is usually the case with luxury or antique items. Here you want to first carefully read the insurance they offer you. And then consult with an insurance agent to see if there are better options. The one thing you don’t want is to find yourself without necessary coverage if something happens.

As you can see, there are some pretty unique benefits of a climate-controlled warehouse. However, whether you should go with this option will depend on the type of goods you plan to keep in there.


Dustin Thompson worked as a storage operator and a moving consultant at SOS Moving Los Angeles. Now, he focuses on shipping industry research and writing helpful articles about various subjects related to shipping and warehousing.

covid vaccine

The Logistics Challenges of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Prove the Need for Data Integrity

Logistics companies are often described as being in the business of moving goods from points of origin to end-use destinations, and that is, of course, true — but they are also in the business of data collection, processing, and analysis. That’s because efficient transport and delivery require data from sources such as real-time navigation systems, enterprise resource planning systems, transportation management solutions, analytics solutions, and more, as well as from sensors that track internal and external environment factors: location, the temperature of shipping containers, vibration, speed, sudden stops and starts, and so on.

But just having this data isn’t enough. To successfully navigate the intricacies of the global supply chain, logistics companies must also ensure data integrity — and the challenges of COVID-19 vaccine distribution are proving just how critical that is.

What is Data Integrity, and Why Does it Matter?

Transporting mission-critical supplies around the globe is innately challenging, but successful COVID-19 vaccine distribution is proving particularly tricky for a number of reasons. A high volume of vaccines must be quickly moved from a handful of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities to tens of thousands of global locations ranging from government facilities to private pharmacies, and deliveries must be coordinated around cold-storage availability at the receiving end. Timing is critical, because the vaccines have a limited shelf life, and the stakes are sky-high. Any vaccines that don’t make it from port to end destination on time and in compliance with certain metrics, such as appropriate temperature thresholds, represent a lost battle in the ongoing war against the pandemic.

That’s why logistics companies need to ensure data integrity, which comprises:

Quality: Vaccine shipment data must be complete, unique, valid, timely, and consistent. For example, most vaccines, that must be kept frozen, can be shipped and stored between -58°F and +5°F (-50°C and -15°C), but Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine must be stored at -94°F (-70°C) to remain stable. Sensors must provide real-time, accurate readings of shipping container temperatures to ensure vaccines remain at the optimal temperature throughout transport, so they can be administered to people. About 25% of shipped vaccines are compromised due to poor temperature management, according to a 2019 report from the International Air Transport Association — an untenable figure for a vaccine on which global population health and economies depend.

Location intelligence: Location data, is often used, to help identify connections between people, places, or things at specific geographic places, and what exists or occurs there. The critical need for efficient last-mile delivery of vaccines, especially to rural and remote healthcare facilities, shows why location intelligence is so important. It takes more than an accurate delivery address to complete the last mile; logistics providers also need up-to-date data on weather, road conditions, road restrictions, and traffic along the route to the destination, as well as site-specific information such as loading dock location. Location data that is outdated, inaccurate, or lacking in context can make the difference between a community that receives viable vaccines, and one that doesn’t.

Enrichment: This gives context, nuance, and meaning to the logistic firms internal data by supplementing it with data from outside sources. For example, a logistics company must supplement its own routing and scheduling data with external data on cold-storage availability at end destinations. Without this context, drivers may arrive at facilities that have no room to store the vaccine shipments, and the vaccines go to waste.

Integration: All of the systems and technologies logistics organizations use to get shipments to the right place at the right time collect and provide their own data, but none of it is much good if the systems can’t talk to each other. Seamlessly integrated data provides complete situational awareness to support decision-making at each link in a supply chain. This helps companies get time-sensitive, mission-critical supplies like the COVID-19 vaccine where they need to go, exactly when they need to be there, using the most efficient path.

Data Integrity is the Key to Logistics Success

Accurate, consistent and relevant data, integrated across all platforms and enhanced by location intelligence and enrichment, help logistics companies achieve data integrity. This elevates data’s usefulness and usability, helping companies react quickly and in real-time to any issues, and make better overall business decisions.

The need for data integrity has never been more clear — and more urgent — than it is now, and lessons learned from vaccine distribution may redefine the way the logistics industry thinks about data. By achieving data integrity, logistics organizations are better equipped to get shipments to the right destination on time — and, in scenarios such as this vaccine distribution, play an integral role in saving lives and protecting global population health.


Clarence Hempfield is the Vice President, Product Management, Location Intelligence at Precisely. Clarence has been with Precisely through the Syncsort and Pitney Bowes days and first joined Pitney Bowes in 2006. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Maryland. Clarence is based in the Washington D.C. area.

cargo ECS charter

Air Cargo Trends in a Pandemic World

Previous predications in pharmaceutical transportation trends, highlighting declining air passenger numbers and air freight demand increasing, have been pandemic propelled. Coronavirus continues causing worldwide disruption, as it is anticipated its industry impact will continue throughout 2021 and beyond.

Pandemic Response – Preighters Take Off

Pre-pandemic passenger numbers were already on the downturn, however, the COVID-19 crisis significantly accelerated that trend.

The crisis capacity crunch came as passenger flights plummeted and the ensuing scramble to transport pandemic payloads saw the deployment of hundreds of passenger planes as freighters, known as preighters, take off.

Pioneering Portuguese charter operator Hi Fly led this trend and was the first to convert an A380 for freight, taking out the majority of seats to provide more cargo capacity.

Despite the sector seeing the grounding of hundreds of passenger planes, earlier than had been initially forecast, which led to a reduction in the availability of cargo space in the bellies of these passenger aircraft, we’ve seen more planes undergo conversions to freighters.

The preighters prevalence looks set to continue throughout 2021 and beyond. Although the air cargo industry faces continuing challenges, IATA predicts an anticipated 25% rise in freight tonne-kilometers this year.

Boeing projects growth in the global freighter fleet with the number of cargo aircraft in service forecast to increase more than 60% over the next two decades, resulting in 3,260 operational aircraft by 2039. (1)

However, the ongoing drastic downturn in travel means the loss of a lot of capacity in passenger aircraft and while freighter aircraft are still present and working hard, fleet growth takes time, so there will be a slower response to replacing some of the capacity lost from the passenger side of the industry.

Some of the 747s which have comparatively low hours on their airframes will undoubtedly become 747 converted freighters and will be flying as freighters just to try to backfill some of that loss in capacity from the passenger numbers.

Large Widebody Aircraft – Grounded or Retired

Before COVID-19, it was predicted airlines would start cutting flights from schedules, mothball larger aircraft, decline production options, and look to utilize smaller, more efficient aircraft in the future for environmental and economical reasons. All of those decisions have been massively accelerated.

The forecast to park some of the larger, widebody aircraft has been brought forward significantly, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The ongoing impact of the pandemic has meant the majority of all 747 freighter aircraft have or are being retired. The A380, which Airbus had previously announced it would stop deliveries of in 2021, has also been retired across the board by numerous airlines, except Emirates.

Increasingly airlines are globally grounding their A380s in favor of more modern, smaller jets, which can fly more efficiently than their four-engine aviation counterparts.

With far fewer passengers flying in a pandemic world, the travel downturn has ramped up decisions to park planes, some permanently, further impacting the already dwindling resource of global air freight capacity.

What we will continue to see is a lot more interest in leaner aircraft, like the A220, the Canadian Bombardier aircraft Airbus produced in North America.

Sea Change in Modes of Transport

There will be ongoing developments in the sea freight sector, which has an estimated 17 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) serviceable globally, of which six million containers are routinely turning and carrying freight.

Put in perspective, at its lowest level of trading during the onset of coronavirus, there were 135,000 TEUs a month traveling from China to the US. However during peak months, when the US retail sector’s stocking up for Thanksgiving and Christmas, this increases to 900,000 TEUs a month. This equates to 8% of the global free flow of sea containers just crossing the Pacific from China to the States.

Any delays will see a huge build-up of sea containers, which lead to availability issues, and rate rises, as seen during the pandemic when China stopped producing. What we saw with the initial emergence of COVID-19, China stopped producing, so wasn’t pushing out those sea containers so there were availability problems in the rest of the world because all the sea containers were piling up in China.

When China returned to approximately 98% of its production output in April other countries were then in lockdown, with some like the US, holding containers for two weeks in ports to quarantine them, compounded by shorthanded workforces operating in the docks.

As sea containers started to pile up in their markets and with exports to China impacted, shipping lines cut sailings from schedules, which saw sea freight prices spike by up to 50%.

Uncertainty in sea freight and air freight availability saw pharma companies initially ship everything they could, by any mode of transport available, to get it out to the markets.

Following months of disruption passenger airlines eventually started flying passenger aircraft with cargo in the lower decks and loose load cargo on the upper decks.

We are now back in the situation where that backhaul from the US and Europe, following seasonal shipments for Christmas retail demands, China now has availability issues again with reduced sailings, so there will not be any kind of normal flows until March 2021, at the very earliest.  However as the UK is currently back in another national lockdown, with all non-essential retail effectively closed and production affected, and if this trend spreads further into Europe and possibly the US, then that will further affect the backhaul. So whereas I was hoping things might be back to some kind of normality in March, I am now inclined to add another quarter to that. So, I now think there will be exacerbated sea freight and sea container availability issues throughout the first half of 2021.

Given the sea freight situation, we will continue to see the utilization of air freight to transport pandemic payloads. When it comes to economics, without the passengers on the main deck it is a much more expensive operational option, however pharma customers are prepared to pay those premiums to move their product.

The volumetric efficiency of air craft is critical at the moment because it is such a scarce resource we need to ensure the best use is made of it.  With air freight capacity a dwindling resource, it is even more important to have the very efficient packing density of temperature-controlled products on such limited air freight resources.

Vaccines vs. Virus – Rapid Response

As the development of successful COVID-19 vaccines continues at a rapid rate, the world’s first approved vaccines are already being administered as part of ongoing mass vaccination programs worldwide.

Temperature-controlled packaging manufacturers continue to play a pivotal part in the global deployment of these approved vital vaccines, including those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford University/AstraZeneca, and Moderna.

As COVID-19 vaccines fall into different families of technology, some have frozen and deep-frozen temperature requirements, leading to a scramble to qualify existing solutions for shipping at those specific lower temperatures.

In a rapid response to the logistical cold chain challenges involved in the deployment of these potentially life-saving vaccines, we have adapted our shippers to meet those temperature requirements, as have other providers in the market.

There has been an impetus for innovation to support these temperatures in volume. Suppliers stepped up to meet the vaccine temperature requirements by adapting existing shipping solutions and the capacity is there, so I don’t anticipate it will be an issue going forward.

The focus is reverted back to the capacities in the transport modes and given the nature of these drugs people are paying whatever it costs to ship them, with rates rising sharply from $2.5 a kilo to $23; however, that’s starting to calm down.

Beyond all of the current vaccines being approved, there will be the need to provide boosters. It is going to create a recurring step up in the volume of vaccines being shipped, alongside the flu vaccines being transported and other pharmaceutical payloads every year.

There will not be a continuous crisis, it will be a continuing trend of smaller aircraft, with reduced airfreight capacities, moving that pharma product at temperatures that sea freight cannot do. It really can only fly.

However, there’s not going to be a modal shift from air to sea because sea cannot meet the temperature requirements necessary for these shipments. You get a displacement, whereby COVID-19 shipments, whether vaccines, test kits, and reagents or some of the therapies which help with recuperation, like Remdesivir, are flying at almost any cost on a dwindling resource.

The pharmaceuticals which have more normal temperature shipping requirements, like 2 – 8C degrees or 15 – 25C degrees, get displaced and in that situation, when the air freight rates get so high, sea freight would normally be seen as a shipping solution.

However, with all of the sea freight challenges, coupled with the fact that their transportation rates have also doubled, there has been some displacement but not as much as pharma companies would have liked, which is what has kept pushing the prices up in the region of the $23 a kilo figure for air freight we had seen previously in the market.

Sea freight will improve in the first six months of 2021 so some of that displacement can take place more efficiently. But aircraft will still be full of COVID-19 related products.

2021 will see the industry learning to operate in the new norm with everyone getting used to that new norm. Next year we might start to see some improvements and efficiencies but I think this year is about adjusting our planning, our capacities, and our operations around this spike in demand and the gradually improving capacity picture. Almost like wearing in a new pair of shoes.


Dominic Hyde is Vice President Crēdo™ On Demand at Pelican BioThermal