Remote Temperature Monitoring of Vaccines’ Cargos

Published by Patrick Famisaran on

Remote Temperature Monitoring of Vaccines' Cargos

Remote Temperature Monitoring of the cargos for Covid-19 vaccines has a critical role in the world’s fight against COVID-19. The critical points are in cargo loading and unloading and is not limited to air transport. The risk exists in all modes of transportation. One transport method alone cannot carry the significant volumes of vaccines worldwide. Land logistics will complement air cargo to get the job done.

Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is a high-stakes process. Transport of the vaccines requires that handlers follow the logistical protocols and ensure unbroken cold chain for ultra cold storage. Cargo handlers have been shipping vaccines for a long time already. But the current circumstance paints a different kind of responsibility for them. They will play an integral part in distributing the vaccines. They have to harness innovation. These innovations will address the urgent demand to transport vaccines of good quality. 

Remote Temperature Monitoring Server Management
Photo Credit: www.akcp.com

Successful Vaccine Distribution

Vaccine manufacturers provide guidelines on the shipping and handling of their products. Cargo handlers are familiar with the protocols, but, the COVID-19 vaccines expect a more thorough distribution strategy. For the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA-based vaccines there are restrictions on temperature conditions. Specific government guidelines are also dependent on each nation. 

Vaccine distribution will be a collaborative effort for all relevant stakeholders. Industry partners will have to abide by specific guidelines involving the COVID-19 vaccine. Key stakeholders will all need to address the logistical hurdles on sight. 

Cargo Capacity

Vaccine distribution needs enough cargo capacity to cater to the significant delivery volume. Unfortunately, airlines have downsized due to a decrease in passenger transport. The commercial airlines can carry the vaccines for deployment instead Some airlines such as Emirates have already converted several of their passenger aircraft to cargo. Even with this setting, air transport will not keep up with the volume of delivery doses. Land transport can be useful in land-lock areas. Nations with local manufacturing capacity should maximize their land transport. 

Seabury consulting states that the world population needs between 11-15 billion doses. This is where alternative transport options can augment the demand. Ocean carriers can take the load, especially for archipelagic countries. Also, convening trucking companies will be integral to reach far-flung areas. 

Preparation

There are many factors to consider in delivering the vaccine. The delivery will have to pass security checks. Cargo handlers should maintain proper loading and unloading procedures. All players in the vaccine supply are a crucial link in the chain. Necessary investments in equipment, facility, and training are a priority. Obtaining specific certifications and accreditations may ease out transport relay. 

All these steps should be part of the vaccine distribution plan. With the immense volume at stake, secure and safe handling is a critical point of preparation. According to UNICEF’s assessment, they can transport up to 850 tons of vaccines in 2021. This volume can be relayed monthly. Their assessment states that commercial airlines can deliver to low and lower-middle-income countries. The air transport can accommodate about 92 countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a guide on vaccination planning. The document hopes to guide governments in developing their vaccination plan. Integral in this guide is the coordination mechanism. These mechanisms should be based on an informed assumption from all stakeholders.

Essentials for Cargo Preparation?

There are certain checkpoints in preparation for vaccine transport. Cargo holders will have to equip themselves with such requirements to lessen obstruction. Preparation of these essentials in vaccine distribution will provide fast and efficient transportation.

Facilities

Vaccine delivery under controlled temperatures follows international regulatory requirements. Temperature excursions may occur during the process. It will likely happen considering the distance from manufacturing hubs to destination. Good remote temperature monitoring ensures product quality. Given the volume of doses projected, it is easy to oversee temperature control. Observance of standard temperature requirements is necessary. It is especially true with the many flights and shipments involved. Some facilities that should be part of the preparation beforehand are:

  1. Temperature-Controlled Facilities

Maximizing existing cold warehouses can be helpful. But the capacity volume requires a lot more cold-chain facility. Hence, the need to repurpose, build and innovate cold storage. It will provide a vast network in the cold chain. While temporary construction is useful, a sustainable facility is a better investment.

  1. Staff Training

The supply chain is not confined to the facilities alone. Administration of the cold chain network is essential also. Much is the demand for the temperature-sensitive vaccine that proper handling is necessary. The human resource participating in vaccine supply should have adequate training. This includes cargo handlers, healthcare personnel, port officers. All have critical participation in administering proper handling procedures. 

  1. Robust Monitoring

When your facility and human resource are in place, a supplemental tool is still ideal. This is the use of monitoring devices. They will serve as hard evidence to ensure the quality of the vaccine when delivered. The data documentation can ensure vaccine delivery integrity. These are location information, temperature logs, and pertinent transport history. 

Security

For a high-stake product like the COVID vaccine, security is a crucial concern. With the clamor to access vaccine, delinquencies can happen. Cases of robbery and theft may rise. A big challenge to ensure proper security is the size of the vaccine shipment. The significant volumes are checkpoints that will be prone to stealing. Only if appropriate measures are in place will cargos be safe.  

One element to negate security concerns is strict adherence to the border process. Border control is the enforcer of security measures. Defining shipment regulations to guarantee transport reliability is part of their function. Custom approvals are also part of the border process. The process will not only provide security. The border process also affects the delivery timeline. Of course, fast-tracking the procedures should not compromise security in return. 

Covid vaccines security with u.s military
Photo credit: fortune.com

Extra Improvements

There is no denying the logistics industry is facing an unprecedented challenge. People’s anticipation of accessing the vaccines is high. The cargos also have to pass through high-level regulatory procedures. Cargo handlers look to incorporate more equipment and system to advance their operation. 

Information Tracking

Transport visibility has been a challenge for cargo operators. Transit strategy is defined when real-time visibility of how things are in the ground (or on air and water). The IoT technology answers this challenge. Tracking requires end-to-end location precision. This can be achieved by using a network of sensors connected to a software platform. Through these sensors, tracking is more manageable. The relay of real-time data enables operators to make strategic decisions. 

Wireless sensors are a tangible tool in monitoring. It can track the status of your vaccine distribution. Once connected to central monitoring software, one can get a comprehensive data report. The software is an advancement of your monitoring capacity. It functions by checking all deployed sensors. By using the software, you can also check all information in one user interface. A graphical presentation, temperature logs, and parameter alerts are sample data references. The software can provide all these. The AKCPro Pharma-mon server is an example of IoT technology available right now. 

Tangible Tracking Visibility

Despite the new technology, relevant stakeholders have difficulty accessing specific servers for tracking. Hospital’s pharmacist should have an easier way to track their vaccine procurement schedules. Temporary warehouse storage will need access to the server as well. Warehouse personnel should have visibility to check location points in the transit. Many touchpoints need this kind of granular visibility. 

The best tool for such monitoring is through a smartphone. New tracking technologies are now integrating SMS and mobile apps. The mobile phones are easy to access to all key points. In the market, AKCP has a sensor probe that can send SMS messaging. It is capable of sending alerts to a mobile phone. Warnings such as temperature changes can notify the person responsible. The alerts can prompt personnel to take well-informed action steps. The AKCPro Pharma-mon server is also capable of real-time remote temperature monitoring. One can access it when connected to cellular data. This makes it a tangible option, especially for on-ground personnel. 

Interoperability

A tracking platform should be a standard reference in monitoring. A cloud-based platform provides different user access to specific data. It should be a repository where data is available to any users once requested. There are many role players in the vaccine supply chain. It is only fitting that they get a share of the data they need. But, some platforms have restrictions. These data limitations can curb scalability. Remote temperature monitoring platforms need flexibility. The ability to exchange and use information from different interfaces is ideal. 

But, the risk for such interoperability is also severe. Pertinent data are available for anyone with access. This is open to tamper or worst crimes. Installing proper firewalls is necessary. A well-designed remote temperature monitoring platform can permit authorized communications. It is hard to imagine an interoperable platform but with restrictions. But data about the delivery of vaccines can save lives. A wrong step will cause the loss of it. The integrity of transport is still a priority. This is crucial for key players with tracking visibility. Only then can platform interoperability be beneficial to the whole logistics ecosystem. 

Remote Monitoring of cargos

Moving Forward

Our cargo systems are already on the move to provide the COVID-19 vaccine we need. With security planning and tangible improvements, efficient access to the vaccine is easier. The challenges are upon us. The cargo handlers are also investing in innovations. It will help counter the logistical issues that may arise. Cargo handlers need to integrate remote monitoring technology. Easy access to a common remote monitoring interface is also supplemental. Exchange of information can aid in efficient delivery as well. 

Reference Links:

https://www.internationalairportreview.com/article/150630/supporting-air-cargo-transporting-covid-19-vaccine/

https://www.iata.org/en/pressroom/pr/2020-09-09-01/

https://www.joc.com/international-logistics/cool-cargoes/vaccine-demand-stress-not-soak-capacity-say-transport-executives_20201218.html

https://www.unicef.org/eap/press-releases/unicef-outlining-plans-transport-850-tonnes-covid-19-vaccines-month-behalf-covax

https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-Vaccine_deployment-2020.1

https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/336603

https://www.contractpharma.com/contents/view_experts-opinion/2020-12-15/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-the-air-cargo-industrys-greatest-challenge/


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