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Planning logistics during London's 'super summer'

How to handle the transportation of pharmaceutical products at an abnormally busy time for the UK's capital


Pharmaceutical led research and development investments in the UK were worth more than £4.5bn in 2010 alone, so ensuring this sector continues to deliver as we embark on London's 'super summer' is vital.

Life sciences and healthcare (LSH) supply chains are arguably some of the hardest to insulate from disruptions, however, and multiple complications can arise due to the very nature of the industry itself, owing to the time sensitive and delicate nature of the items being transported.

This can lead to significant delays for their intended use if not managed correctly, and with the onset of the Games, this careful planning has never been more important. Transporting time sensitive samples and medicines for patients – all the while sharing the road with an estimated 5.3m additional visitors and 30 per cent more traffic, means planning ahead is paramount for businesses big and small.

With the Games just underway, businesses should be reviewing their transport and logistics plans continuously over the next few weeks to ensure they've covered all bases and are prepared in the event of disruption.

Getting the basics right is essential. Businesses should monitor the need for additional staff over the period – which could fluctuate depending on demand. Ensuring the right levels of staff are in place to handle the delivery of goods when they arrive is critical, especially if the business is intending to implement nighttime deliveries or longer opening/office hours. 

Where possible, businesses should plan collection times for when the Olympic Route Network/Paralympic Route Network is less congested and the Games Lanes are open to all traffic (mostly between midnight and 6am). Allow extra time for delivery and collection too, as congestion means 'normal' journey times will be impacted.

The impact of the disruption means that time sensitive or hazardous deliveries could be affected.  However, if these kinds of deliveries are being made during this period, it's advisable to plan to stop off at regular intervals throughout the journey at dedicated 'hubs' to re-stock freezer packs or dry ice – to avoid the impact congestion could have on the items. Without adequate temperature control the shipment may become worthless – resulting in a loss to both the customer and the business.

Fully brief drivers on the impact of the Games on their everyday routes. Longer waits and journey times will result in drivers needing more time to make deliveries.  Ensuring the driver is aware of any critical deliveries is the best way to priorities urgent or time-sensitive shipments.

Revise collection
For pharmacies specifically, encouraging customers to collect medicines from store facilities rather than through home delivery services, may reduce stress on your network.  The British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (BAPW) advises contacting local health services to ascertain which patients are likely to require repeat prescriptions during this time. In the first instance, these should be re-arranged to a time outside of the Games period, to focus on urgent requirements. However, where this is not possible, collection is recommended.

The Author
Amanda Bridge, director industry sales, life sciences and health, DHL Express

31st July 2012


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