Cool Chain event highlights potential benefits of pharma-drone industry collaboration

The Cool Chain Association (CCA) brings together leaders and professionals from across the cool chain industry to network, share insights and trial new ideas at its two annual events – one on pharma and one on perishables.

This week (September 23-24), at the CCA’s Pharma and Biosciences Conference, delegates learnt that cool chain partners are changing their mindsets to join shippers and start-ups in shaping the supply chain of the future – smart data applications, unmanned aircraft, and supplier management solutions were on the agenda.

Drones to take off?
The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA)’s Celine Hourcade said that despite not yet being cost-effective or scalable, the drone sector is a new emerging industry and added that it was important for the transport sector to share its expertise to help companies developing unmanned solutions.

“The pharma and the air cargo industries have the knowledge and this must be transferred and shared with the new entrants, if that happens it will be a win-win situation,” she said.

Drone start-ups Avy and Dronamics have set their sights on developing unmanned aircraft that will improve the final mile as well as offering cost-effective, more environmentally friendly solutions.

Ivet Arabadjieva, director of business development at Dronamics, said she felt the pharma and drone industries can learn from each other.

“Tell us what you need, and we can come back with ideas and with costs,” she said.

Avy founder Patrique Zaman, added: “We are working really hard to make sure this new air ecosystem happens, and we have been focusing on tech, regulatory issues, and also use cases, but what we found really hard is to get in touch with the rest of the value chain,” he said. “We need each other if we all want to step out of our bubbles and I invite you all to think today about what we can do and make sure we can help.”

Medical care by air
Dr Radhika Batra, founder and president of Every Infant Matters, explained that the industry was helping by finding and promoting innovative solutions to bridge the gaps in the supply chain, with drones being just one example.

“There are 1.5 million children dying every year from vaccine-preventable illnesses and many more living with blindness and other disabilities that don’t need to be,” she said.

“Major stakeholders must join together in this war against poverty and disease, if we come together, network, and share, we can surely make a difference.”

Winning numbers
Pharma manufacturer Novo Nordisk has developed its own risk-based analysis solution that uses big data harvested from temperature loggers on its consignments to map performance and temperature excursions on trade lanes. Thanks to the solution, Novo Nordirk has scaled down costs, improved reliability, and can identify areas for improvement much more easily.

“We could see that our primary distribution spend was going up and we had to do something about it,” said Navid Choudhury, senior manager – distribution and logistics network, supply chain planning, Novo Nordisk. “We worked with the data that we already owned to map the lanes. Then we went to our logistics partners and connected our data with theirs so that we could identify performance on future shipments.

“We found collaboration easier because we were not trying to ask so much information from the airlines.”

Stavros Evangelakakis, Cool Chain chairman and global product manager, Cargolux, said the industry should be thinking about how to help improve the final mile in pharma.

“I am not suggesting that the air cargo industry can save all of those lives, but I want to be able to say that we came together and started a dialogue, which can help make things better,” he said.

Presentations from the event are available to download at


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