Keeping everything cool
DHL THERMONET is a comprehensive new service offering higher visibility and greater control in the delicate transport of temperature-sensitive products.
DHL has just launched DHL THERMONET to create a new standard of temperature management in air freight.
Providing life-saving medical products is a big responsibility. When it comes to getting them to the people who need them most, producers and logistics providers are faced with the challenge of ensuring product integrity, regulatory compliance, and timely distribution at optimal total cost.
"When temperature-sensitive products move through an airport with potentially limited temperature-controlled facilities and handling capabilities, customers' products are at risk," says Laura Ackermann, Global Head Life Sciences Network & Operations Air Freight at DHL. While thermal packaging plays an important role in managing the risk of temperature excursion, being able to track logistical events as well as monitor the temperature of these sensitive products in near real time to enable intervention - where and when needed - is a significant advantage.
DHL has just launched DHL THERMONET to create a new standard of temperature management in air freight. This unique end-to-end service integrates proprietary DHL SmartSensor technologies with transportation, packaging, and intervention capabilities to streamline the shipping process, and ensures product and cold chain integrity is maintained throughout the logistics cycle. Utilizing the IT platform LifeTrack to upload relevant data, DHL THERMONET offers higher visibility and more control.
DHL Smart sensors
The integrated DHL SmartSensor device is an in-house development from DHL's Solutions & Innovation division. The technology provides visibility to the shipment via an RFID sensor and also monitors the ambient temperature while in transit. As an optional service, measuring near-product temperature of the goods during transport is available, utilizing the DHL SmartSensor XP (external probe) technology. Near-product temperature data enables more targeted intervention.
The temperature data collected by the DHL SmartSensors is uploaded to a web portal at predefined checkpoints between each shipment's origin and destination, and is linked directly to logistics events. Tracking of the ambient temperature gives insight into how the goods are being managed on the ground and in the air. "Consolidation of these individual shipment journeys will allow DHL a much more consultative approach to risk management, packaging, and product integrity on our customers' behalf," explains Ackermann. "The life sciences-specific IT platform LifeTrack - 21 CFR Part 11 compliant - serves as the backbone for operational shipment management and provides a single data source for all logistical and temperature data."
Consistency in compliance
Alongside the DHL SmartSensor technology, a Good Distribution Practice (GDP) compliant quality management system is integral to DHL THERMONET. "One of the biggest advantages we provide is the consistency in service in compliance with international life sciences industry regulations and guidelines," says Ackermann. "We are leveraging our existing network of life sciences competence centers; the focus is on providing the correct infrastructure to handle the shipments and having trained and certified staff at all of these locations. The goal is to have the entire network operate to a standardized and audited GDP-compliant process."
"We are currently focusing on our base of over 30 life sciences competence centers around the globe, where we are implementing the DHL THERMONET standard," explains Ackermann. "We will continue rolling out DHL THERMONET, targeting 60 stations by the end of 2014." Further network expansion is planned.