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UPS Keeps It Cool
UPS PharmaPort 360 shipment

Picture your medicine cabinet at home. Now open it. (If yours is like mine, it could use a lot of organization.)  Have you ever stopped to think about how those medicines and therapies arrived on your shelf? Specifically, I mean the path from how medicines go from manufacturer to being delivered safely to your local pharmacy, or even directly to your family. Well, if you could magically dive into your medicine cabinet and go behind the shelves, you might be surprised to find UPS at the heart of some fascinating and vital healthcare logistics.

Last fall, UPS launched a new air freight container called PharmaPort 360 specially designed for transporting very delicate, temperature-sensitive therapies and medicines like vaccines. A few days ago, UPS’s healthcare team satisfied some of my “behind the cabinet” curiosities and gave me a peak at one of their first logistical feats transporting this new container.

It was a critical mission: safely and securely transport pharmaceutical products destined for a clinical trial from our customer’s location in New York to Tianjin, China, and preserve them at a delicate range of 2º to 8º Celsius the entire way. That’s not an easy task for an almost 17 hour airplane ride, traveling more than 7,000 miles across the globe and undergoing extreme air temperatures as low as -9ºC (or about 16ºF).

The PharmaPort 360’s ability to keep these pharmaceuticals within a specific temperature range in-transit is really important. If the container’s contents experience what’s called a “temperature excursion” – and I don’t mean a tropical vacation – there could be serious consequences such as products spoiling and potentially causing a delay in a clinical trial.

Door-to-door it was a three-day trip to deliver the container, during which time it was transmitting important tracking information such as its location and temperature data in near-real time. I learned that through our UPS Temperature True® service, UPS personnel were on the other end of the data, tracking the shipment 24/7 like a hawk.

The shipment included trucking the PharmaPort 360 container from our customer’s door via UPS Freight to the JFK airport gateway. Then it was screened by TSA and carefully loaded onto an airplane for takeoff. After a layover in Seoul, Korea, and a thorough customs clearance process in China, the product was delivered safe and sound to a facility in the city of Tianjin.

And I thought keeping my leftovers cold in time for lunch was hard!

At the end of the day, we understand companies are putting the highest trust in UPS to take care their products. We don’t take that responsibility lightly. We could be shipping a vaccine that wards off the flu, storing tissues for a skin graft in a UPS facility, or dispensing diabetes pumps directly to patients – we have a role in handling medicines and therapies that are making a difference in patients’ lives.

And well, let’s face it – we also “geek out” over a good logistical challenge. We think it’s kind of cool.

Category: Healthcare, Logistics
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