Since the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, testing has been a key factor in trying to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many companies worked quickly to manufacture various types of tests to effectively detect and diagnose COVID-19, whether for use in medical laboratories, hospitals, doctors offices, universities, or even at home, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently authorizing the first rapid, over-the-counter home coronavirus test.
Regardless of where the test kits get distributed, just as healthcare shippers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other industry professionals had to develop unique global logistics strategies for COVID-19 vaccines, similar considerations are required to build the proper transport infrastructure for COVID-19 test kits. Shipping some of these high-tech test kits entails a complex process; so many diagnostic testing manufacturers and global carriers rely on parcel transportation management technology to boost their capabilities to effectively transport COVID-19 test kits.
Since as early as April, Logistyx has been working with several pharmaceutical and life sciences customers and carrier partners to plan for the challenges of rapidly – and safely – distributing testing kits worldwide. This has included choosing the right carriers to handle the specific requirements of test kit shipments, as well as planning for the bulk storage and return of specialized dry ice containers, which some companies use to ship test kits.
Build a global carrier library
Any organization managing distribution of test kits needs to rapidly build an agile and global library of carriers to cover all potential destinations. In many cases, shippers had to quickly identify and go-live with multiple new carriers that specialize in new geographic locations – with back-up carriers ready to go in case the first choice does not perform as required or to avoid delays in transit.
Under normal circumstances, it would typically take a month for a customer to gain approval to go live with a new carrier. However, due to the critical nature of the shipments, Logistyx brought this down to just one to two weeks without compromising on the rigorous requirements of this process.
Complex data verification
To gain approval for a shipper to distribute parcels with a new carrier, Logistyx first must prove that shipper’s labels and electronic data are compliant with the specifications required by the carrier. In international shipping, each carrier has its own quirks when it comes to data, and the verification of this is critical, especially if this is the first time that hazardous materials, such as dry ice, are being shipped. If the data is incorrect, it can result in costly errors and delays.
The data verification process involves a sequential flow, which starts by processing a few orders in a test environment with real data. After testing the data, shippers next need to check that the physical label meets all requirements. Is the ink black enough to be easily read by the carriers’ systems? Is there the right amount of shine on the labels? Are all the right codes being used?
A seemingly simple 2” x 6” label with a 2D barcode contains vital and complex data, including routing codes, information on hazardous materials, and payment terms that must be accurate. Shippers do not want a time- and temperature-sensitive shipment to go astray because the routing code sends it to the wrong hub.
To ensure test kits can be shipped with urgency, Logistyx reviewed this process with various customers to ensure shipments are ready and labelled with carrier compliant information to enter the supply chain upon authorization.
Real-time visibility into critical shipments
Of course, preparing for shipping is just one piece of the puzzle. Full visibility that enables proactive management of shipments, with real-time information regarding location, delays, and delivery through the Business Intelligence function of a transportation management system (TMS) for parcel shipping is vital when dealing with time (and sometimes temperature) sensitive goods.
Logistyx TME helps optimize parcel shipping and the distribution of vital medical devices like test kits by improving the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of the supply chain. Likewise, a digitized supply chain improves a company’s ability to anticipate risk, improve transparency and coordination across the supply chain, and manage any issues that arise from increasing complexity. When it comes to global distribution of test kits, vaccines, or parcels of any kind, TME helps shippers minimize disruptions and rapidly resolve those that do occur.
Contact us today to learn more about how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help you quickly adjust supply chain operations for increased agility, efficiency, and scalability.