With 2020 fading and 2021 looming ahead, times continue changing for the better. A COVID-19 vaccine has begun shipping through various logistics networks. This puts a renewed focus on cold chain transportation processes throughout the United States. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Based on the information in their plans, states are in varying stages of preparation for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine. And some states have already begun the process of signing up providers to administer COVID-19 vaccines and building out existing immunization registries, while others are still just developing plans to do the same.” Improving cold chain transportation systems now will enhance the vaccine distribution in many ways and help brands ensure their other cold chain network needs are met.
What’s Wrong With the Current Cold Chain Transportation Network?
Many of the issues regarding cold chain shipping methods tie back to limited visibility and limited access to resources. A traditional set up for cold chain transportation only works for short-distance shipments. Current practices cannot handle the sheer volume needed for vaccine distribution. Traditional systems are not set up for the environmental controls necessary for COVID vaccines. Without improvements, cold chain transportation networks cannot handle this level of demand or stay within freight costs that shippers want to pay. And even for those with the capacity, the vaccine’s priority will inevitably lead to delays in other lower-priority items, particularly in the food supply chain.
A TMS Connects a Shipper’s Network to More Carriers and Increased Opportunities for Load Acceptance
One way to improve cold chain transportation options is by shifting the overall focus. The primary focus should remain fast and safe vaccine distribution. Working with an established expert vendor like MercuryGate and a world-class, enterprise-level transportation management system (TMS) and forming a close-knit network with carriers and distributors is a significant first step. It can make vaccine shipment more streamlined and easier to manage. Being able to work with carriers of choice allows for more flexibility. Tapping into additional shipping modes opens a broader distribution potential. Accessing more transport lanes will also make distribution safer, faster, and more manageable. Most shipping systems do not have the specialized features needed for vaccine distribution. Therefore, updating processes in the shipment network is key to getting the COVID vaccine out to distributors.
Other Benefits of a TMS in the Time of a COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
- Increased transparency between supply chain members and third parties.
- Ability to easily redirect or reallocate assets in response to shipping changes.
- Prioritization of loads and carrier modalities to improve shipment times.
- Maximize the use of backhauls to ensure maximum load capacity is maintained.
- Increased invoice accuracy for faster recovery of funds between shipments.
- More accountability throughout the cold chain transportation systems.
- Stringent security and chain of custody protocols to ensure viable delivery.
- Improving cold chain shipping processes to ensure safe and timely distribution.