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Key Metrics to Improve Pharmaceutical Shipping Programs

Introduction

If you think buying a car and designing a pharmaceutical shipping program require two entirely different processes, I might have to disagree. Let’s start with your most recent car purchase. Did you just head for the car lot assuming that something would catch your eye, and then make a final decision based on your instincts?  Of course not; most likely you did some research ahead of time. You may have started by:

  • Reviewing various consumer reports
  • Visiting manufacturer websites
  • Shopping around for financing options

If this level of consideration is given to the choices we make regarding our personal purchases, why wouldn’t we give the same, or greater, attention to the choices we make as they pertain to our Pharmaceutical Time and Temperature Sensitive Shipping Programs.

Determining Key Data to Track

Unfortunately, gathering this type of information may not be as easy as reading an issue of Consumers Digest.  While there may be industry guidance available on best practices, you will most likely need to decide upon your own Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and other metrics to use for tracking and trending.  The first step is to determine what areas you will need to gather metrics around.

You can start out with very high level metrics tracking . . .

International Shipping Metrics

. . . or take it all the way down to a very detailed level.

Detailed International Shipping Metrics

Compiling and Interpreting the Data

Once you have determined the criteria important to your facility, just log your outbound shipments and record all of the data throughout the entire process. Compile data by using spreadsheets or databases to store the individual shipment information. Once you have gathered some data, trends will begin to surface indicating which areas are working well and which areas need improvement. Analyzing these data points will go a long way in helping you assess your carrier, packaging, and internal process strengths and weaknesses.

Putting the Data to Work for You

Just because a certain carrier or packaging solution is not performing well to a specific destination or temperature does not mean that you should abandon them altogether.  For example, you take your car to a very reliable and trusted mechanic.  He does great work and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg.  You decide to get your car painted and since this particular mechanic is so good with your car you hire him to do a new paint job.  When he is finished the paint looks terrible. You ask him what happened, to which he replies, “Well . . . I’m a mechanic”.  This does not mean that you discontinue your relationship with him as your mechanic, but painting isn’t his strength so you find a new painter.

Some carriers may perform better in certain areas of the world than others; some packaging vendors are better at maintaining specific temperatures than others.  These metrics will help you recognize individual component strengths and capitalize on them to strengthen your entire pharmaceutical shipping program.

Conclusion

Just as you wouldn’t decide upon a large purchase without gathering the information required to make an informed decision, our pharmaceutical shipping programs deserve the same attention.  Gathering metrics and using them to determine optimal solutions on an individual shipment basis is easier than you think and will improve your performance as well as protect your valuable pharmaceutical products to ensure viability.

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Travis Hudson

Travis Hudson

Associate Process Engineer at BioConvergence LLC
Now in his eighth year at BioConvergence, Travis' current role focuses on operational process improvements and implementations which provide benefit to both BioConvergence and its clients. He also serves as the Cold Chain Subject Matter Expert for Operations. Travis started his career in the pharmaceutical industry working with a sterile filling facility in the late 90’s. After the company was bought out, he took a short hiatus from Pharma during which he served as Warehouse Manager at a local production facility before returning to the industry in 2008.