3 Top Tips for Creating a Sustainable Cold Chain Process

Jim Bacon

In this Pharma IQ interview Jim Bacon, Senior Director, Global Demand Planning & Customer Operations, Talecris Biotherapeutics, shares his insights on how industry is addressing the challenges faced in monitoring, controlling and maintaining temperatures of products throughout the supply and his top 3 tips for creating a sustainable process. Bacon also discusses how he sees the Canadian Cold Chain landscape is evolving.

Pharma IQ: Please could you tell us a bit about your current role?

J Bacon:
I am responsible for international customer operations and logistics including cold chain and share a global responsibility for cold chain management practices and procedures. My role includes working internally with Operations, Quality Assurance, Validation, and Risk Management and externally with partner providers to develop and execute appropriate solutions to protect the temperature and integrity of our products during transit.

Pharma IQ: How is the industry addressing the challenges faced in monitoring, controlling and maintaining temperatures of products throughout the supply?

J Bacon: Cold Chain Logistics and Distribution conferences, especially the IQPC conferences, have been increasingly popular in the sense that cold chain is key to a successful supply chain. THE PDA-PCCIG is an excellent organisation of pharma industry members including shippers, providers, etc. that collectively are interested in improving the global cold chain processes. Regulators are spending increasing amounts of attention during audits reviewing shipper’s procedures in this area. With these industry events and groups, members have a forum to discuss ideas and challenges and create guidance documents that will benefit the industry and ultimately protect product as it travels from the manufacturer to the customer or patient. Service providers are creating solutions that are validated to universal temperature profiles and standards and new temperature monitors and alerts provide ease of monitoring and improved access to information.

Pharma IQ:
Who does responsibility for cold chain management ultimately lie with?

J Bacon: We have a responsibility to educate internally and also externally to our partner providers and customers on the proper care and handling of our products.

Pharma IQ: How important is a disciplined process of communication between shipper, freight forwarder, airline, and 3PL?

J Bacon: Communication is a critical and key component and driving force behind our Core Team approach to cold chain logistics. We insist on direct communication with all partners including airlines to insure that procedures and hand-offs are well understood. Generally we have a contractual arrangement with the 3PL and there is a communication / escalation process built into the agreement.

Pharma IQ:
What would be your top 3 tips for creating a sustainable process?

J Bacon: Communication, strong relationships, repeatable processes. Separately, these considerations are important factors but linking them together leads to sustainability. Develop strong relationships through a partnering / learning approach, establish clear lines of roles and responsibilities and escalation, all part of an effective communication policy, and create and execute a process that works and is repeatable. Make sure you can link the process and hand-offs through a mutually agreed upon set of SOP’s.

Pharma IQ:
How do you see the Canadian cold chain landscape evolving?

J Bacon: Canada is and has been a leader in cold chain management of Pharmaceuticals by being one of the first nations to develop a guidance document (Health Canada). With temperature extremes, businesses must develop more robust time and temperature solutions to protect products. Being a close neighbour of the US and addressing the global security issues, Canada will develop its own cargo screening procedures and regulations that will need to be closely aligned with the cold chain guidance document.

Pharma IQ: I understand you will be speaking at Pharma IQ’s 9th Cold Chain Temperature Management Summit, taking place in Toronto, Ontario, February 22 - 24, 2011. For anyone interesting in attending the event, what will be your key take home message?

J Bacon: Your cold chain process is in essence a Risk Management process. Consider the alternatives, what are the chances of failure to your product, to your customers, if you have not taken the necessary steps to ensure a safe and secure transit of your products? Listen to presenters for best practices and methods including how strong relationships play a key role and how processes need to be repeatable and sustainable.


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