TCL19: Key Takeaways on the future of the cold chain

We share some of the top insights from the Temperature Controlled Logistics conference in London

This week, our team spent time at Temperature Controlled Logistics 2019. The four day event offered insight on challenges faced across the full end to end cold chain with honest discussions from all stakeholders. These are just a selection of the takeaways we gained from the event.


Performing under pressure

Major Chris Hunter gave one of the most impactful talks of the conference, taking the audience on a tour of his duties as a bomb disposal expert.

Through his tales of tracking down terrorists and navigating rigged car bombs in Iraq, Chris shared the foundations for performing under pressure. His four steps; observe, orientate, decide and act, offer a strong base for finding your feet in a difficult situation.

He challenged the idea that fear can control you, reminding the audience to focus on accepting and rationalizing a situation before attempting to handle it. While also making the interesting point that no matter how hard you prepare, there are some things you will never be able to simulate.

“There’s no better team building exercise than an ambush”

Chris’ last point resonated with many of the audience; never lose sight of the aim – it’s not about the role, it’s about the goal.


Finding the real root cause of temperature deviations

Hashim Ahmed of GlaxoSmithKline also caught our attention with his insightful dissection of past temperature deviations.

As he recognized, an easy mistake many make is focusing on finding a singular root cause. For every deviation, there are likely to be more than one root cause and investigating each is the only way to ensure you won’t face the same problems.

He shared strategies for analyzing these causes, such as the Pareto and fishbone diagrams and change analysis. However, the 5 Why methodology might be the simplest way to uncover the true depth of a problem. By continuing to ask ‘why’ when faced with an issue you may actually reveal far more than you expect.

By digging deeper on a deviation, you can uncover the different root causes and set a plan to address them

Hashim highlighted some of the challenges that will inevitably arise during the investigative process, from unrealistic CAPAs, missing evidences and issues with carriers or 3PLs. But as he aptly pointed out, if you don’t get to the true root cause of your problems you will continue to waste time and resources on the same issues.


Drone innovations in disaster response

MSD and Softbox entertained attendees with the work they have been doing on drone delivery for disaster response and disease outbreaks.

The result of a close relationship between the companies and a tight initial deadline to develop a prototype has led to a secure cold chain drone delivery system, currently being put into action.

With medical drone deliveries being piloted in a number of regions, from Rwanda to Chicago, it’s clearly a mode of transport with high interest in the logistics space.

The creativity needed to develop this technology has led to a pipeline of new innovations that we’ll be looking forward to hearing more about in coming years.


Making the switch from air to sea

On the dedicated sea freight day, Novo Nordisk revealed their efforts to move the vast majority of their cold chain to sea freight.

For them, this shift represents a number of benefits, including a reduced carbon footprint, a lower chance of interference during transit, strong economies of scale and the chance to form better partnerships.

Deciding if and when to switch transport lanes should be a collaborative effort within the company to understand what is best for both teams and products

However, it hasn’t been an easy task. Their transition has had to be approached regionally, taking into account a risk v reward analysis and encouraging collaboration across the company to decide which mode of transport is best for relevant teams and product lines.


Future innovations in the cold chain

As expected, technology and innovation came up across a number of sessions.

Many recognized the value innovations, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and machine learning, could bring to the supply chain with increased transparency and flexibility.

Yoram Eshel, the former Senior Director of Global Transportation and Logistics at Teva, even went so far as to say that in his belief “the logistics chain will become the logistics ledger”.

"The logistics chain will become the logistics ledger"

Most believed that AI integration would increase within the industry, with companies gaining better purchasing powers as more solutions entered the market. Yoram reminded the audience to work with service providers during this process and see them as a vital resource in this transformation journey.


Allergan’s foundational lessons

We also thought Allergan offered some foundational advice that all attendees could benefit from.

Gerry Byrne, Distribution Operations Manager, reminded us all that low tech solutions can be effective in the cold chain. In an industry where cost-effective measures are often front of mind, it is helpful to note that not every solution has to be a great expense.

Low tech solutions can be effective in the cold chain

He also pointed out that temperature monitoring is not temperature control. And that we should not underestimate the value of reverse logistics. 

In one of our favourite point, he recognized that all temperature controlled solutions have a place within the supply chain, it’s just about making sure you matching the right solution to the right lane


This is just a teaser of what we learned over the last few days. For a more in depth look, keep an eye out for our upcoming Post Event Report.

The program is also live for our online version of Temperature Controlled Logistics which will take place on April 2nd-4th. Sign up now!