Jim Bacon's Do's and Don'ts for Finding and Selecting a Cold Chain Logistics Provider

Jim Bacon
Contributor: Jim Bacon
Posted: 04/29/2012

Jim Bacon, Senior Director, Global Demand Planning & Customer Operations Grifols Inc., joined Cold Chain IQ, to discuss the need for partnership and collaboration in the cold chain and shares his do's and don'ts for finding and selecting a cold chain logistics provider.

Cold Chain IQ: Why is further collaboration essential for a successful pharmaceutical cold chain?

J Bacon: When we consider working with partner providers, it can be overwhelming to a manufacturer / shipper faced with making an informed decision on a myriad of possible options and solutions. Particularly in the case of pharmaceutical cold chain logistics, collaboration is key in developing and maintaining a standard to ensure consistency. As well, this is ever so important when we consider industry groups like the PDA PCCIG and IATA that are creating guidelines that bring forward the recommendations of their members. As a decision maker you want to be able to compare these offerings in a way that conclusions will be obvious based on a defined set of criteria. At the end of the day, a bad fit will result in a deteriorating relationship. On the other hand if we consider working together to create the best fit solution, positive relationships will result in potential opportunities for the future in the form of recommendations and introductions.

Cold Chain IQ: Partnership vs. collaboration: Is there a difference to the approaches manufacturers and solution providers should take?

J Bacon:
Although we have entered into contractual arrangements with our providers because of necessity we have also developed these relationships in a partnering philosophy that promotes exchange of information and responsible behaviours. From the perspective of a manufacturer / shipper we desire that various solution providers understand this and collaborate initially to develop the best solution for us and that will also be the profitable for them in the long run. Many solutions work hand in hand (for example temperature monitoring of passive or active solutions or 2-step active passive combinations), so collaborating to create a best fit solution is essential in building a relationship. I see this question more as a journey, as the partner providers collaborate initially with the client. If providers step back and view the bigger picture they will discover that the manufacturer / shipper desires a solution that guarantees product integrity but may also have limitations from a budget point of view to find a cost effective solution. In some cases a partnership could result in a universal solution benefiting the industry need as opposed to only a single customer.

Cold Chain IQ: What are major barriers to provider collaboration in the cold chain?

J Bacon: As in any industry competition is alive and well. You only need to attend an IQPC Cold Chain conference to see an excellent choice of solutions and options to manage product integrity for your shipping and logistics needs. We have had the benefit of working closely with a few partner providers for a number of years and early on insisted on collaboration and quite frankly these partner providers welcomed the sharing of information to develop the best solutions for our needs. As well we consider our approach as a best practice in the sense that we are a stretch client for these partner providers and have helped them to create offerings that form the basis of their commercial offerings to others. However, we also realize that providers have spent effort and energy creating offerings and solutions, patented or otherwise, and may want to deal directly and only with the manufacture / shipper. In these cases it is important for the manufacturer / shipper to determine if this is a good fit for them.

Cold Chain IQ:
What would be your do’s and don’ts for finding and selecting a partner?

Jim Bacon:

  • Do your homework – create a Cold Chain Plan or Strategy
  • Determine your needs initially – involve all the related groups (Logistics, Purchasing, QA, RA, Validation)
  • Do you have a budget?
  • Do you want a custom or off the shelf solution?
  • Is the off the shelf solution a validated solution, can you have access to reports?
  • Attend an IQPC Cold Chain Conference – meet with exhibitors
  • Research a few provider websites – seek out industry experts
  • Be prepared to ask the tough questions of the potential provider
  • What exactly am I paying for?
  • What can I expect and not expect?
  • Will you sign a Master Services Agreement and a Quality Agreement?
  • What is your issue resolution and escalation process?
  • Do you have SOP’s, can you customize, and can we have access to them?


  • Don’t ignore any of the "Do’s"

Cold Chain IQ: What changes in practice can we expect to see in the future?

J Bacon: For those organizations whether manufacturer / shippers or solution providers that have been involved in cold chain logistics for a long time, I see them continuing to contribute to develop and refine industry guidelines and working with regulators to create an understanding of need and capabilities, also sharing these experiences and best practices at industry events like this one. For those manufacturer / shippers just getting into the process or looking at new solutions I see a desire for industry standards providing a clear direction to determine needs. For partner providers, as in any industry, those that have a willingness to adjust to the needs of industry leadership and guidance will grow because of their willingness to collaborate and partner with clients. As we’ve gone beyond the 10 year mark of Cold Chain as a necessary and critical aspect of pharmaceutical logistics, I see a well positioned and organized force that will continue to guide change to preserve product integrity.

Cold Chain IQ: As supply chain dynamics change, where do you think cold chain professionals will look for innovation and influence with regard to their temperature controlled supply chain?

J Bacon: I believe the IQPC Cold Chain conference and website is a premier resource for cold chain professionals to access information and new and developing innovations in temperature controlled logistics. I would also like to see cold chain logistics as a possible offering in educational programs offered in supply chain programs at colleges and institutions.

Cold Chain IQ:
What are you most looking forward to about the 10th Anniversary Cold Chain & Temperature Management Global Forum?

J Bacon:
I am excited about the new location for the conference this year, Chicago. I think this will result in a number of new registrants that may have not been able to attend before. Also, I am looking forward to meeting up with my peers and colleagues in the industry to share on developments and progress, listen and learn from industry presenters, and to see new and innovative solutions in the exhibit hall.

Interview conducted by Andrea Charles.

Have Your Say
Rate this feature and give us your feedback in the comments section below
Jim Bacon
Contributor: Jim Bacon
Posted: 04/29/2012


Amsterdam, The Netherlands
May 21 - 23, 2019
The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami, FL, United States
May 20 - 22, 2018