Immense challenges will arise from the logistics involved in vaccine transportation and distribution. Transporting millions of doses over thousands of kilometers while following strict temperature guidelines will prove to be challenging.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, there had long been an underlying vulnerability in the transport sector: the inability to scale up a fleet size in an economically feasible way during peak periods.
The inability of some well-established brands to survive has made them close their doors permanently. Others are looking for ways to stay afloat by finding delivery options.
Presently, we are in a terrifying situation because vaccines are increasingly in demand, along with vaccine supplies. This is the world’s most considerable operational undertaking since World War II, and overcoming the challenges that face transportation teams would require innovative thinking, strategic collaborations, and cutting-edge technology.
This article will discuss how vaccinations are physically transported from manufacturers to medical facilities worldwide and their challenges.
- 1 Vaccine Transportation: Huge Volume
- 2 Vaccine Transportation During the Initial 24 Hours
- 3 How to Keep Vaccine Cool in Transportation
- 4 Vaccine Transportation’s Capacity Constraints
- 5 Vaccine Transportation on the Plane
- 6 Vaccine Transportation On the Ground Level
- 7 Regional Limitations
- 8 Vaccine transportation’s Solutions for the Future
Vaccine Transportation: Huge Volume
A significant amount of money is needed to overcome the obstacles to getting the vaccinations out as quickly as possible. Transporting so many boxes is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. In a short period, labor, trucks, and resources will become scarce. The delivery of vaccines, along with the accompanying supplies – such as needles, syringes, face shields, and alcohol wipes – will overload the every day delivery vehicles, affecting everyone’s daily lives. Something has to give since the system is already overloaded. However, what is the best way to achieve this?
On top of the millions of boxes and parcels, FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. began distributing vaccines in December. Additionally, the burgeoning construction and commerce industries are required to ship goods and supplies every day, which is powered by the world’s most enormous online shopping volume ever.
Vaccine Transportation During the Initial 24 Hours
Upon receiving urgent approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, producers and transporters are prepared to launch the supply chain – a complex system of warehouses, trucks, planes, and, eventually, delivery to the injection sites – within 24 hours.
As part of the nationwide vaccination program, trucks will be loaded with vaccines before being loaded onto planes. The rehearsals and storing of vaccines have already begun.
As a result, it is crucial to establish a chain to the customer and complete the last mile: sending items to the correct recipients. Health officials are concerned that the vaccines will not be able to reach their patients in time. For them, this is a life-or-death issue. We can save lives when we deliver immunizations to thousands of people each day who become ill.
How to Keep Vaccine Cool in Transportation
Refrigerated containers (active containers) and air-cooled containers (passive containers) are two methods to keep vaccinations cold during transportation.
Batteries and a cooling system are used in active containers to keep items cold. Batteries are recharged while the containers are on the ground, and the battery system kicks in during transport. Even a slight difference in temperature from the temperature authorized range can trigger an alarm on an actively cooled container’s thermostat.
In some cases, passive containers are placed into cold storage facilities between outings depending on how cold the temperature is and how long the trip will take. The thermal insulation in passive containers is filled with ice packs or dry ice before the journey begins.
Vaccine Transportation’s Capacity Constraints
The truck shortage and demand for them are high. However, some transportation companies use a fixed-based inventory model with a finite number of trucks, which means if you have 100,000 trucks, you have 100,000 trucks. Due to the shortage, vaccine transporters will need to deploy additional fleets to cover the gaps and will have to turn to third-party (3PL) and fourth-party (4PL) courier companies to enhance and replace their existing fleets. Deliveries of vaccines, for example, leave the last-mile distributor to deliver other items.
Vaccine Transportation on the Plane
The IATA estimates that many aircraft will be needed to transport and distribute vaccines nationwide.
American Airlines (AAL) reports that its widebody 787 jetliners can carry about 500,000 vaccination doses.
Vaccines may be carried on freight and passenger flights. Although some flights may only carry cargo, it’s likely vaccines will be beneath your feet during your next trip.
American Airlines deploys a 25,000-square-foot facility in Philadelphia devoted exclusively to pharmaceutical supplies. The facility can charge 50 large, actively chilled containers at once and has four chilling levels, ranging from minus 20 degrees Celsius to just above freezing. Within each of the refrigerated sections, which are large enough to hold several cars and pallets, dual cooling systems are installed, and a generator is available.
Dulles airport in Washington has a large refrigerated warehouse where United Airlines saves and stores pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive goods.
It is vital to keep shipments from spending too much time at these hubs, even though they are essential in the supply chain.
Vaccine Transportation On the Ground Level
Trucking companies will be responsible for the vaccines’ last legs once they arrive. They will create aliquot-size canisters that will soon be shipped out with the Pfizer vaccine.
Federal Express (FDX) claims over 90 cold storage tanks worldwide to preserve the Pfizer vaccine at super-cold temperatures throughout transport and storage. FedEx says it currently transports around half a million dry ice packages per month.
Lastly, there are geographic ramifications to consider. Delivery will not take place in straight lines from East to West but instead will be based on the requirements and desires of the government. It will impact stocking choices as well as logistics related to providing vaccines. It becomes complicated as you get further into logistics.
Think about a vast truck traveling from Chicago to Houston. Upon arrival in Houston, it must travel to hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. Where then should it be? There is intricate planning, scheduling, and timing around real-world variables required when distributing in urban areas. Sorting, separating, and purifying have to happen down to the cargo truck level. However, too many variables in play can slow down delivery and cause traffic and overcrowding.
Vaccine transportation’s Solutions for the Future
Businesses must also develop real-time monitoring systems that interface with e-commerce, ERP, and POS platforms, enabling them to generate power and information through delivery partners. By using these technologies, businesses can react to transport problems in real-time, allowing them to be proactive about buying commodities, pricing them, and providing customers with delivery status in advance.
A vaccine carrier that takes advantage of its global reach will likely increase efficiency through this overall vaccination delivery venture. It would be impossible to predict without a doubt that the vaccination delivery system would benefit from this venture. Supply-chain companies should now take this initiative into account when planning for other aspects of their business. How can they use this in a way that is not more costly but more efficient?
COVID-19 proved that the current delivery system needs a paradigm shift to keep up with today’s fast-paced delivery first world. We may achieve this through innovative thinking, strategic collaborations, and cutting-edge technology. In this project, we will face a significant test. I’m sure we will learn a lot from it. Comment here if you agree!