Winterizing your cold chain

When the holiday decorations start to come out, so should your seasonal logistics plan.

Editor's Note: This story was written live from the IQPC Boston conference.

When Macy's starts putting out their holiday decorations, it's not just a sign that Santa is coming to town soon. It's also your reminder to get your logistics plans in shape for the winter months.

"Being proactive in the business of life sciences is one of the fundamental things that you can do," said Robert Heinrich, Senior Traffic Administration, Advisor, Novartis, during the 13th Cold Chain GDP and Temperature Management Logistics Global Forum in Boston. "That's what makes the difference between success and failure. If you let it become routine, something not good is going to transpire."

During a breakout session led by Heinrich, he reminded the packed room that the winter season is extra important when it comes to shipping temperature-sensitive products.

"Our business is not the sort of business that is a nine-to-five situation," he said. "You have to be 24/7 during the winter. You have to be available. You have to protect your cargo."

There are a number of things to consider when preparing your winter plan—the first being the weather.

"As shippers, it's important to check the weather forecast," Heinrich stressed. "I can't emphasize that enough."

But, the weather cannot be controlled. So, what exactly can a company do to make sure they are prepared?

Plan, plan, plan.

"Winter—shipments can get stranded," he said. "Storms come up. Airplanes are grounded."

Heinrich suggested visiting carriers and rechecking that they, themselves are prepared for the winter. For example, do they have a backup source for power?

Audience members shared some of their winter strategies. One mentioned several times was being aware of holidays, vacations, and always being in contact with your customer. That contact should include very frank conversations about the weather, using materials that you might not normally use, planning ahead and doing what is best for all parties involved—even it means changing shipping dates.

"A little bit of thinking ahead, and you can save your shipment," he said. "Yeah, it might be coming a day later, but we are ensuring to make sure it gets there in one piece."

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