Change & Collaboration PART I: The Keys to Temperature Controlled Logistics Success

By: Pharma IQ Editorial Team

Organizations change for a range of reasons: to close performance gaps, seize new opportunities, to accommodate for a new merger or perhaps abandon certain projects in favor of more successful ones.

Pharma is one of the most conservative industries –namely due to the fact that its products are high risk – very influential to the health, well-being and in some cases the survival of their consumers. Regulations must be met to ensure that medicine quality and patient safety is protected. Therefore any changes, be it to product or process, need to be controlled to ensure that these vital elements are not in anyway jeopardized.

This being said, many areas in pharmaceutical supply chains could be greatly enhanced by change to save time, money and resources. Real time monitoring and machine learning technologies in supply chains could enhance agility to prevent losses in the field due to temperature excursions. Standardized metrics would be revolutionary when comparing and verifying shipping containers. Blockchain integrated as an additional security layer into supply chains would allow stakeholders to manage the chain of custody via one source of truth.

Therefore, it can be worthwhile to endure the hurdles required to invoke change in pharma. Also, with more stress being placed on the bottom line and executives scanning for areas that will scoop up savings, pharma firms may not be able to afford the luxury of shirking the laboriousness of change.

The high cost of spoiled pharmaceutical products is one of the motives driving some manufacturers to switch to using Phase Change Materials (PCMs). 


A medical firm based in Singapore wanted to transport bio-materials for 48 hours at -18°C. These materials included the likes of fresh frozen plasma, blood serum, protein, plasmids, DNA, RNA, anti sera samples and tissues on slides.

By switching to PCMs the firm eliminated the rejection of products due to exposure to low temperatures, which constituted to 15 per cent of the consignment annually.

By reducing the level of product rejections and simultaneously deploying OPEX measures, the firm saw over $0.5 million in annual savings

Why is collaboration important in change management?

As mentioned by Nick Candito, Co-founder and CEO at Progressly “Companies that transform are always thinking about their organization’s vision and long-term trajectory. They see transformation as a journey, consisting of changes, that allows them to stay competitive and continue to grow.”

However, organizational change almost always requires the input and coordination of multiple parties. Overcoming resistance is one of the biggest challenges to tackle on the road to change, especially with large scale transformation.

Effected parties need to be unified with a common vision that is rationalized by the change’s benefits. Here, communication and collaboration is vital. Craig Vermeyen, Senior Manager, Packaging Engineer at Kite Pharma pointed out that when the relevant groups are involved and working together, changes can be completed much faster. Also, more innovative solutions within the transition can be reached when different  perspectives on the change are coming in from different groups.

Why collaboration is important in pharma logistics?

Collaboration is integral to a pharmaceutical supply chain working sufficiently, with different stakeholders operating various legs of the

chain. Cold chain partnerships are largely a game of trust. With lives at stake and billions of dollars invested, communication, training, modern infrastructure and a good track record of safely delivered temperature-sensitive cargo are essential qualities of an effective cold chain partner.

Once cargo is handed to a forwarder or carrier, shippers must rely on partners to safely steward their temperature-sensitive products through the cold chain. One of the most efficient methods of monitoring shipments is a truly collaborative approach, whereby all stakeholders charged with moving temperature-sensitive cargo work together to develop and implement the required programs.

Even though it is integral to the operation of its supply chains, collaboration doesn’t come easy to pharma. Many have ventured to state that the industry is far behind other sectors when it comes to collaboration.

In Pharma Logistics IQ’s 2016 research, collaboration between manufacturers and suppliers was labelled as the biggest adherence sticking point for new EU clinical trial regulations. Then 2017’s research saw a large portion of the temperature controlled logistics respondents, 32%, admit they do not hold enough meetings to share information with supply chain stakeholders.

Stakeholders can be so preoccupied with their own individual results and pain points, that they fail to check on the consequences felt within the whole chain. Instead, stakeholders should integrate into each part of the complete supply chain, working collaboratively to achieve the group’s objectives.

Alan Kennedy, Founder, Team-Up Global and collaboration program Poseidon said, “It is time for pharma-logistics to step outside its comfort zone and take a hard look at developments in other service sectors. Only by adopting a more collaborative approach to pharma logistics can the pharma industry extract the benefits that are being routinely achieved by more progressive sectors.”

At the end of the day, lacking collaboration measures will result in a deteriorating partnership and product loss. Collaboration and intelligence sharing between drug manufacturers could drastically improve the landscape for the general market.

Progressive industry commentators have proposed the idea of peer shipments – where drug manufacturers collaborate on shipments, to reduce costs and avoid the prospect of paying to ship a lot of vacant space.

Want to learn more? Read PART 2 of our Change Management Series.