How to use industry collaboration to drive results in Temperature Controlled Logistics

Alan Kennedy, Team Up, shares insights on how pharma and logistics can better collaborate on fully integrated supply chains

Alan Kennedy

The global life sciences industry is valued at over $1 trillion. As the industry continues to grow, reaching new markets and integrating innovative product lines, there has never been a greater need to ensure success in the supply chain.

Pharmaceuticals and biologics are expensive to produce and are delicate in nature, often highly sensitive to heat, cold, light, mishandling and vibrations. To ensure these products reach the patients who need them, still intact, is a fundamental challenge requiring careful co-ordination of a multitude of global stakeholders.

With rising industry and consumer demands, there has never been a greater need to ensure success in the supply chain

New delivery models, rising customer expectations, changing regulations and disruptive technology have also added to an already complex task. Meanwhile, pressures are increasing to both reduce costs and improve outcomes.

To address this, supply chains must become more strategically integrated and begin to collaborate on key issues.

Related: How BioPhorum are looking to drive standarisation in cold chain shipping


TEAM-UP was created to incubate collaboration and integration between pharma and logistics. They set out to promote collaborative best-practices, provide practical guidance and bring disparate expertise together.

Alan Kennedy, Co-Director of TEAM-UP, began his career in the construction industry, where the supply chains are highly complex, time sensitive and the environment is largely adversarial. When the Government pushed for increased collaboration and efficiency on large scale projects, Alan stepped forward to attempt to change the dynamic within the supply chain. Taking what he had learned from the experience, Alan ventured into the pharmaceutical and logistics space, eventually co-founding TEAM-UP.

There is "huge scope for more collaboration in the pharma logistics industry"

Speaking to Pharma Logistics IQ, Alan said of the field “Pharma has a lot of relationships in its supply chain, but they are very much master/servant, traditional silo relationships. They are not the properly integrated networks that we need”. He does believe that there is “huge scope for more collaboration in the pharma logistics industry” especially with the advent of new technology. In light of rising cost pressures, he also sees logistics as a key area where money can be saved. However, this requires companies to see logistics as more than just an afterthought.


Related: Hear from Alan Kennedy live at the upcoming Temperature Controlled Logistics Conference. Find out more here

TEAM-UP have set out to prove the value of collaboration with their Poseidon program. Their collaborative effort seeks to bring together representatives across the industry to tackle key issues. As Alan puts it, it’s “all about starting with a problem and every party inputting to create the most efficient solution”. This is distinct from the current separation within problem solving, whereby pharma companies expect to be sold solutions yet are not part of the design process, leaving them with products that fail to suit their full spectrum of needs.

Using a cloud based network, all Poseidon members are able to communicate openly 24/7 at their own convenience. With smaller groups set up based on expertise and interests, trust is quickly formed between the sub groups allowing them to collaborate effectively.

"It's all about starting with a problem and every party inputting to create the most efficient solution"

At the start of the year, Poseidon decided to test their efforts with a difficult challenge; a large scale shipping project. They took 65 pallets of real pharma products, in different dosing forms, from Central America to Europe in the most testing conditions they could facilitate. Live satellite data transmissions of the shipment gave them a comprehensive view of their performance and ability to adapt to disruptions in the supply chain. The results were extremely positive, with a winter validation exercise now planned to complement the summer tests.

However, as Alan notes, this level of collaboration, along with a successful outcome, “takes a lot of energy, a lot of effort and a lot of commitment”. He recognizes that “collaboration in a commercial context isn’t something that just happens. It has to be structured, it has to be worked on and it has to be understood”. To achieve this, TEAM-UP used collaborative working methods which had been tried and tested in other industries. They also committed to getting different representatives bought in to the program and willing to work collaboratively. They faced a lot of people adopting the ‘wait and see’ approach, yet as Alan aptly notes “if you’re on the outside, you cannot influence and shape the direction [Poseidon] takes”.

Successful collaboration "takes a lot of energy, a lot of effort and a lot of commitment"

Now that TEAM UP and Poseidon have produced clear results, they are in a strong position to alleviate industry concerns and progress further. The Government’s initiatives in the construction industry gave a large number of examples for people to draw on and to begin to recognize the value from. The continuing work of TEAM UP could provide similar incentives across the pharmaceutical and logistics industries.

Although, Alan does not yet believe collaboration across pharma and logistics will become the norm. With some generational issues underlying the task, Alan said that he’d “have to be skeptical of whether you would get sufficient camps in both industries to push a transformation.” However, he does note that “someone’s got to start and those that do take the lead will benefit from it.”