Temperature-controlled Shipping:
Delivering Life-saving Cargo

UPS Delivers 375,000 Doses of Flu Vaccine to Laos

Delivering 375,000 doses of flu vaccine to Laos involved seemingly insurmountable hurdles--precise temperature control, travel through five countries, complex customs brokerage, detailed regulatory compliance, and multiple contingency plans all needed to be handled on an extremely tight timeline. But UPS successfully made it work.

Partnering with Walgreens

Flu vaccines bring better health to the people of Laos. The country is situated in Southeast Asia, where waves of the virus can originate. Not only could a vaccine help prevent cases of respiratory disease in Laos--it could potentially help prevent influenza strains from spreading to other places.

When Walgreens donated flu vaccine doses totaling more than $9 million to the Laos Ministry of Health, UPS was up to the challenge to deliver the precious cargo.

"The UPS healthcare group has a very engaged solutions group that has the ability to look at a situation and think outside the box to be able to come up with a solution," says Dimitri Zacharenko, a UPS Manager of Temperature Sensitive Healthcare Solutions. "We think of things in a very fluid manner."

Logistical Triumphs: Overcoming the Challenges

It's this fluidity that allows us to face these types of challenges head on. 

"The shipment needed to travel across two continents and over five stops," explains Margaret Clayton, UPS Director of Enterprise Sales, Healthcare. "The planning was a round-the-clock effort by a large team thinking of every small detail."

Working on a strict schedule, UPS specialists in healthcare, logistics, brokerage, freight forwarding, and UPS Airlines collaborated to coordinate the 9,000-mile shipment, ensuring uninterrupted movement through our international transportation network.

We determined the delivery was going to be difficult, but doable--thanks in part to a temperature-controlled cargo container available through UPS.

The PharmaPort™ 360 is an environmentally friendly active container that maintains a constant internal temperature regardless of external conditions. Two of these units kept the vaccine within a critical range of 2°C to 8°C throughout the trip to Laos, even despite 40 degrees of outside temperature variation. By employing something as simple and easily accessible as cell phone technology, the containers' location and internal temperature could be tracked at all times. No other container has this clever use of GPS technology.

Early on, Zacharenko discovered that we couldn't fly directly in to Vientiane, Laos due to infrastructure limitations. But, we could fly to Bangkok, Thailand, and carry the vaccine on the ground the rest of the way.

"In my investigations, I actually went to Google Earth and got satellite shots from the road from Bangkok to Vientiane to see if it was potentially possible to use the roads," Zacharenko says. "We don't have normal transportation set up for trucking between those places."

It would be a 19-hour trek by truck over roads with sections left unpaved, but he found that we could do it.

The UPS Asia/Pacific Solutions group was involved in orchestrating this delivery as well, helping to arrange customs clearance in Thailand and Laos. Work instructions were translated into multiple languages to ensure the shipment went smoothly.

"At last count, I believe there were 47 people from 15 different departments on two different continents working on this, and in less than seven days, we brought everyone together and made it happen," says Kevin Etter, a UPS Healthcare Logistics Strategy Group product manager.

UPS understands that logistics can save lives, and logistics was involved in this project every step of the way.

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"At last count, I believe there were 47 people from 15 different departments on two different continents working on this, and in less than seven days, we brought everyone together and made it happen."  


--Kevin Etter
Product Manager, UPS Healthcare Logistics Strategy Group

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