FedEx Offers Blankets to Keep Pharma Clients Cool

By Daniel R. Matlis

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet with Richard W. Smith, Managing Director – Life Sciences and Specialty Services at FedEx.  During our meeting in NYC, we focused our discussion on FedEx’s strategic initiatives in supporting the increasing globalization of the Life Sciences industry.

Smith has a deep understanding of the valuable role logistics serve in our increasingly global and outsourced ecosystem, and he should.  He literally grew up with the business; the son of FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith.

“Customers are counting on FedEx to provide stable and predictable environmental temperatures from pickup to final delivery; otherwise shipments can freeze or overheat,” said Smith.  The largest segment of pharmaceutical product from a temperature standpoint is bulk drugs in Controlled Room Temperature (CRT) ranging from 15-25°C.

“For these shipments, especially for generics, the manufacturers or distributors are often very price conscious and do not want to incur the added cost of using expensive temp-control packing materials or specialized containers,” said Smith.  “Instead they often opt to ship on days where the temperature is mild at origin and destination and hope that they won’t get any temperature excursions in transit,” he added.

Smith shared some real life examples of how FedEx addressed the challenges of Pharma CRT shipments:

“A large pharmaceutical company was relying on freight forwarders to transport its generic drugs that need to be protected from extreme ambient temperature fluctuations.  The company was relying on costly leased temperature controlled containers en route from India to the U.S.

Even with these measures, the pharmaceutical manufacturer was experiencing product spoilage when transit delays occurred and the temperature deviated from the CRT range. Additionally, the pallets of temperature-sensitive freight were often exposed to the outside elements and left unprotected from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations. The company needed a more reliable, economical temperature-controlled transportation solution.

To address the issue, FedEx teamed up with AmSafe to design a thermal blanket to shield the customer’s freight from extreme temperatures and weather conditions, including rain and snow – from the origin warehouse all the way to final delivery.  Additionally, the turn-key solution includes end-to-end shipment management – without the extra management fees and customs charges that the shipper paid to freight forwarders since FedEx owns the thermal blankets. And because the cargo is transported via the FedEx Express® network on FedEx planes, transit times have also been reduced.

Combining the AmSafe thermal blanket with round-the-clock support from a dedicated team of FedEx customer service agents, shipment-status tracking capabilities and stringent operational recovery procedures, FedEx has provided the manufacturer with a cost-effective solution for keeping time-sensitive freight safe from temperature fluctuations.”

But the company didn’t stop there.  To ensure that the product CRT conditions are maintained in transits, FedEx conducted extensive temperature mapping studies to determine the appropriate default temperature settings on its Boeing 777 aircraft.

“Based on these studies, FedEx has implemented procedures to maintain temperatures on board its new B777 aircraft remain within the CRT range during flights.  So now cold chain shippers can plan accordingly with a great degree of confidence knowing that their products will be cool on the ground and in flight,” he concluded.

Richard W. Smith Is Managing Director for Life Sciences and Specialty Services-Global Trade Services at FedEx Express.
richard-smith-fedexRichard Smith has a deep understanding of the valuable role logistics serve in connecting people and goods and creating economic growth. As the son of FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith, he literally grew up with the business watching FedEx evolve from an express shipping company to a worldwide portfolio of services. In his role as Managing Director of Life Sciences & Specialty Services, Smith provides strategic direction for developing customized logistics and supporting specialized services.
Smith joined FedEx Services in 2005 as a Senior Solutions Analyst. In 2007 he was promoted to Manager of Supply Chain Solutions, responsible for FedEx SupplyChain. In 2009 he was promoted to Managing Director of Life Science and Specialty Services.
Smith earned his undergraduate degree from George Washington University and his Juris Doctor from the University Of Mississippi School Of Law. He serves on the following Boards: Greater Memphis Chamber, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital Foundation, and Blue Streak Scholarship Fund.
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