Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine will be unlike any vaccine distribution effort due to its scale and urgency. The key lies in advanced telematics solutions that deliver efficient and reliable cold chain supply management at scale for life saving vaccines.
Now that Pfizer and BioNtech, and Moderna are getting emergency approvals of their COVID-19 vaccines for mass use, any approved cure for Covid-19 is a mammoth distribution challenge for world health leaders. The immediate challenges lie in supply chains and logistics, which need to ensure the most effective solutions to manage and monitor vaccine shipment and transportation across the globe
Most of the vaccines currently being developed involve a cold supply chain, with temperatures that can go well below zero degrees Celsius, though most need to be kept below sub-zero temperatures. For a large part of the world, this is a problem. Delivering a vaccine from a manufacturer to a patient requires the cold chain to remain intact. It is critical that the movement of life-saving vaccines is done expeditiously, with the least amount of wastage in keeping these vaccines safe along their journey.
A supply chain is only as fast and responsive as the data driving it. Today, new sources of real-time supply chain data such as telematics, combined with a planning and execution platform, can equip supply chains for the task. With the right telematics data at the right time, supply chain and logistics industry can remain compliant during temperature-controlled transportation, optimize inventory and fleet management, and streamline administrative processes.
The Cold Chain Supply Challenge
According to Deutsche Post DHL, to provide global coverage of the vaccines, up to ~200,000 pallet shipments, ~15 million deliveries in cooling boxes, and ~15,000 flights will be required across the various supply chain setups. The vaccines might have to be kept in sustained sub-zero conditions. For instance, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at Antarctic winter conditions of minus 70 degrees Celsius.
These unique challenges are forcing industries to rethink traditional approaches to vaccine cold chain and fleet monitoring. Companies must develop plans for cold chain custody that covers thousands of miles — safely and quickly. To save millions of lives still at stake, the need of the hour is:
Unprecedented speed to market
Speed to market and maintaining cold chain integrity is the biggest consideration for all stakeholders in the supply chain, than distribution cost or logistics efficiency.
Unfamiliar shipping/transport networks
The vaccine supply chain will be stretched to meet demand at a national, continental and global scale requiring new and concerted multimodal means.
The COVID-19 vaccine will require full-scale manufacturing and distribution from day one.
The cold chain industry has made great strides in temperature sensors, data loggers, telematics and cloud computing solutions, all of which enable track and trace, and real-time remote temperature monitoring — crucial for Covid-19 vaccine distribution. With a robust end-to-end monitoring approach, regulators, manufacturers, distributors and third parties in the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain can address these unique challenges.
Telematics Solutions for Cold Chain Custody
Cold chain requires technology that can support the design of a supply chain that ensures safe manufacturing, storage and transportation of goods that require cold storage. To create these intelligent and resilient supply chains real time visibility is needed. Telematics plays a significant role in handling cold chain custody. Temperature-monitoring sensors that link to a wider fleet management system already exist, but the next-generation of telematics is intuitive, intelligent, and integral to the cold chain transport industry.
- Data is collected through sensors, loggers and digital analysis, intelligently and seamlessly, all in real time.
- Real-time supply chain data embedded in a planning and execution platform boosts service levels and increases supply chain resilience.
- The development of these systems can be tailored to suit the needs of the supply chain operator.
- These technologies track the location and movements of the device, the vehicle, and its load. This tracking can be done not just on the vehicle level, and down to sub-components such as equipment and the load itself.
- Using sophisticated sensor equipment, companies can better manage cold chain custody. This includes technology that allows for finding the best route in real-time, tracking the status of engines and tires, and offering real-time feedback to drivers on best practices.
- Telematics also can maintain records that document every move along the cold supply chain, providing accountability throughout.
Tracking assets that incorporate future-ready technologies, with the right platforms enables a modern, reliable and secure supply chain. Effective advanced technology and IoT based solutions are best developed collaboratively for a faster go-to-market. Roadzen is at the forefront of leveraging an integrated expertise across devices, apps and analytics to build future defining cloud-enabled platforms. It provides complete IoT solutions that combine hardware and software to bring real-time visibility, safety, analytics, and AI to the operations of connected fleets. These IoT systems that support end-to-end visibility of operations, and asset tracking solutions or apps are completely mobile.
Benefits of Telematics Driven Supply Chains
The benefits of combining technologies, real-time data, multiparty platforms, and artificial intelligence, are significant.
Many systems do not require the upfront purchase of hardware but work with the existing in-built hardware that manufacturers install.
Increased Asset Utilization
They optimize the utilization of transportation assets and equipment by knowing the exact time and location, which determines availability. This also offers backhaul opportunities.
Greater Resource Utilization
Early visibility and the ability to change schedules to optimize productivity is inbuilt. Teams can schedule another vehicle when there is a delay, or reduce personnel required based on known arrivals of vehicles.
Higher Service Levels
Potential delays can be identified faster and optimize response time for the best outcome in time.
Better Operator Performance
Accurately measure plan adherence and find tactical opportunities to monitor, manage, and improve driver performance.
Competitive Differentiation for Supplier
Capitalize as the shipper of choice with accurate information about arrivals, compliance, and better exception handling.
The Time to Optimize is Now
What’s most critical now is creating a simple, yet broad technology offering, which can ramp up the sophistication and fidelity of telematics data flows. The more data points created, the more fidelity is derived in the supply chain ecosystem for Covid-19. This will in turn enable suppliers, shippers and governments to inspect, analyze, optimize and protect the distribution of vaccine materials.
Fleet vehicles are difficult to manage without an investment in technology, as large amounts of data need to be translated into meaningful information. The ideal approach must enable players in the Covid-19 vaccine distribution chain to own their visibility initiative across all touchpoints, through real-time, on-demand signals that puts vaccine makers and shippers in control from manufacturing to point of use.
Real-time visibility should not be viewed in isolation but must be tightly integrated into planning and execution processes for best results. This advanced approach not only allows supply chains and logistics to correctly receive and deliver life-saving vaccines, but it also eliminates any blind spots that might be encountered going forward.