The Covid-19 pandemic shocked humankind and disrupted all our lives. However, the arrival of vaccines gave us hope of beating this pandemic and returning to normal lives on the other side.
However, just the discovery and production of vaccines isn’t the end of the problem – its distribution and successful administration are critical. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to achieve such a massive large-scale distribution of vaccines without detailed planning and effort.
The vaccine needs to be transported in temperatures below -80C is a huge challenge but most cold chain distribution systems aren’t geared to handle this kind of workload. Additionally, the vaccines are delicate and several parameters need to be controlled for their successful transportation.
Given how many variables need to be analyzed and monitored to achieve its successful distribution, the Logistics Firms would do well to use a modern GPS-enabled Fleet Distribution Software to track and monitor its successful distribution.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted lives globally and affected every aspect of life as we know it. Humankind is deeply stressed, and, anxiously awaiting a return to normalcy. Thanks to the rapid development of vaccines, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. However, the solution doesn’t just end at successful vaccine development and production – its distribution to the masses and administration is critical.
Extreme challenges: Vaccines are delicate, fragile products. They are temperature-sensitive and need a climate-controlled environment for transportation. Unfortunately, most distribution networks the world over aren’t equipped to transport vaccines at such a massive scale. The problem is further exacerbated with cold-chain transportation. Not only is cold-chain distribution less extensive than overall distribution networks but all aspects of the cold chain network must completely match the vaccine requirements otherwise entire batches and loads of vaccines would be wasted! In developing nations, the problems are amplified and become even more difficult to manage.
Significantly reduced commercial as well as passenger transportation, coupled with much lower consumer demand, has meant limited availability of cold-chain trucks for vaccine transportation. Maintaining proper temperature control, location tracking, safety protocol for vehicles and drivers, and optimizing routes are all critical tenets that need to be addressed to achieve successful vaccine transportation.
Vaccine health is also affected by aggressive driving, speed, braking intensity, traffic congestion, terrain, inclement weather (etc.) and all this must be taken into account.
What is “cold-chain distribution”? How is it so important for the Covid-19 vaccine?
“Cold chain” is a supply chain distribution system that uses refrigerated vehicles, warehouses, production, and distribution.
It uses a series of temperature-controlled actions to keep cargo at the prescribed temperature range during movement. Specialized vehicles, such as refrigerated trucks, are required to execute this movement.
Cold chain shippers and carriers use wireless technology, vehicle tracking sensors, and door sensors (etc.) to track and control fleet temperature and several other parameters (eg weather) to prevent temperature fluctuations.
For fleets that are transporting vaccines, using a cold chain supply, refrigerated vehicles, and tracking and monitoring vaccine movement from start to finish is a complex sequence of activities that must be handled carefully.
COVID-19: Why is Last-Mile Delivery so important?
The efficacy of any distribution network is dependent on how well its Last-Mile Delivery functions.
Since vaccines need to be delivered per schedule, the drivers must be kept updated with real-time information about traffic patterns, weather, routes, entry and exit points, loading and unloading docks, and parking slots at the location.
Picture this: a logistics chain does everything right till the point that the vaccines have to be offloaded. But, due to mismanagement eg unavailability of enough cargo handlers, or enough refrigeration at the receiver’s end, the vaccines are handled improperly and become unfit for use!
Therefore, Last-Mile Delivery is critical – fair to say, it’s where the rubber meets the road, where success or failure of a logistics chain is seen.
Fleets Management is crucial for successful vaccine distribution.
COVID-19 vaccine distribution is a highly sensitive and delicate process. For example, the vials must be shielded from light till ready for use. Also, although vials are transported in thermal containers packed with dry ice, the ambient (vehicular) temperature must also be controlled supply chain.
Fleet Managers and Distribution Companies need to be extra vigilant about vaccine safety and timeliness of delivery. Sensors that record and monitor vehicle temperature and humidity are fitted into a tracking device which is easily installed.
Real-time visibility, tracking, and communication with fleet drivers about progress i.e. projected vs. actual will help all stakeholders in successful execution.
It is easy to see that information sits at the very core of a cold chain management system, and, to manage such a complex supply chain, Fleet managers need real-time information on last-mile conditions, loading dock updates, geofences around destinations to ensure successful cargo delivery.
A modern, GPS-enabled fleet management system gives Fleet Managers complete transparency and visibility of ongoing operations. Through automated status updates, fleet managers can track data for temperature, door opening, and closing, vehicle movement, unwarranted vibration, deviations, unforeseen emergencies (etc.).
Real-time tracking helps them not only to control vehicle movement right up to delivery and through the crucial Last-Mile Delivery but also be best prepared for emergencies. This enables them to monitor – all this while maintaining the temperature-controlled environment prescribed for the vaccine.
During vaccine distribution, all stakeholders – including fleet managers, drivers, vaccinations centers, hospitals – must stay updated on all vehicular movement and progress. This allows better downstream preparation and handling of activities such as unloading, number of vaccines to be administered, staff needed (etc.).
Fleet Drivers are critical Front-Line Covid warriors: the inclusion of fleet drivers in the list of critical front-line Covid warriors for early administration of the vaccine should tell you how important they are to this entire process! And, by natural extension, so are the fleet vehicles and the technology that controls these fleets.
Using a modern, automated, GPS-enabled Fleet Management Systems
As is already evident, a huge amount of data is generated and needs are analyzed for managing such an extensive and complex vaccine distribution exercise.
Transport Managers would do well to use a cloud-based GPS-enabled Fleet Monitoring Software since this enables centralized data storage, eliminates legacy methods using paperwork, and provides real-time visibility.
A fleet management system is equipped with several data-analytics tools that generate insight by using modern methods of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial intelligence (AI) and enables better decision making and planning.
Conclusion: it is evident that vaccine distribution is a delicate, complex, and extremely sensitive process. It requires cold-chain distribution systems, close monitoring at all times, and any slip-ups anywhere in the process could result in entire batches of vaccines being wasted. Given how important vaccine distribution and administration is for the world to return to normalcy, Logistics and Distribution firms are well advised to use a modern tool like a Fleet Management System to achieve vaccine distribution successfully. Humankind is depending on it!