How Not to Experiment with Your Life Sciences Logistics Program
By Phil Burnette
Vice President, National Account Sales
Technical Transportation, Inc
Just like medical-equipment logistics, heavy and sensitive laboratory and life science products require special considerations and qualifications. Not to mention training and skills to ensure safe and timely delivery, proper set-up and installation of seamlessly operating equipment.
But life sciences equipment deliveries often differ from medical equipment in that not all laboratory equipment manufacturers need highly specialized field-service agents to set up and operationalize this unique equipment. Nonetheless, life science equipment can need more specialized expertise than is often found in many logistics companies, especially when in-house teams are scarce and expensive to deploy.
As a manufacturer of specialized laboratory or life sciences equipment, you should consider the following when choosing a life sciences logistics partner:
- Pre-shipment Needs
In many cases, life science manufacturers need logistics providers to perform specialized pre-delivery functions. This can involve turning the equipment on, basic testing, and—in the case of many cold storage or refrigeration units—controlling temperature accordingly to ensure it is operational and arrives on-site already cooled. Some cold-storage manufacturers even require pre-filling and glycerin probe-testing to ensure the equipment can sustain the liquid-temperature in the unit.
- Handling the Heavy Stuff
A lot of equipment found in today's medical laboratories or life sciences centers are heavy and bulky. What’s more, most have delicate or sensitive parts such as sensors, temperature-specific chambers, moving components and tech-specific components that require delicate handling. For this reason, handling life-sciences equipment requires a partner with specialized training and tools that can carefully transport, offload and deliver the equipment already user-ready to the end-user's location.
- Sealed and Delivered
Much of this specialized equipment requires a distinct packing process that ensures safe transport and delivery of the units without damage to the external casing, or any internal components. It then become the logistics team’s job to create the customized packaging process. This can be everything from a custom-designed padding, wrapping and overpack system that keeps everything in place and immovable, to a shipper that will ensure no other shipment on the truck will come in contact with the laboratory equipment.
- Recycle and Refurb
With fast advancements in medical technology, it’s often necessary to arrange shipment of an existing unit in the field for equipment upgrades, for end-of-life refurbishment for secondary markets, or even medical recycling. In a lot of cases, for equipment that has used or stored fluids or reagents—such as blood analyzers or centrifuges—a special decontamination process is required before it can leave the facility. A logistics partner adept in managing the decontamination process, who can ensure it has been adhered to with all required paperwork in place, is critical.
- Tech Training
Since life sciences equipment is so specialized, most manufacturers will require a logistics partners who can ensure the shipping personnel, installation team or field service engineers receive the specialized training necessary to handle, turn on, test and help make the equipment operational. Make sure your logistics partner has an in-depth training program in place to ensure anyone who touches your equipment has the know-how and specialized expertise to do so. This ensures you have one point of contact to guarantee your equipment gets to its final destination safely and user-ready...without the added time and cost of deploying your own field service teams.