Novel GPS tracking technology: A revolution within a revolution

If you are shipping high-value, high-sensitivity products, advanced tracking technologies can provide distinct advantages that help protect them throughout the journey.

A row of COVID-19 vaccine vials.

As COVID-19 swept the globe, it created critical demand for medical supplies and equipment.

Early in the pandemic, a company in the United Kingdom had a shipment of rubber medical tubing on the way to customers based in the United States. At the request of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration's public-private partnership to confront the pandemic, UPS Healthcare sought to procure the shipment for use by first responders and care facilities.

A GPS tracking technology helped locate the tubing, from among thousands of other components, aboard a railway truck. With surgical precision, UPSers removed the medical gear, switched it onto faster transportation, and prioritised its delivery.

It is an example of how novel GPS tracking technology helps healthcare organisations move more quickly and surely today to support patients and save lives.

Tracking technology is not new, of course. Today, GPS is embedded everywhere – in phones, vehicles, and all kinds of electronic devices.

What is emerging in healthcare logistics, though, is the deployment of tracking technology into an entire shipping network. As a result, customised levels of service and products based on tracking technology are quietly revolutionising healthcare logistics.

This comes at exactly the right time. Healthcare itself is in the middle of a revolution, as emerging biologics have displaced traditional drugs to make up more than half of the 50 best-selling pharmaceuticals.

These time-sensitive, temperature-sensitive, organic-based medicines require a cold chain that must be precisely maintained and monitored. Thanks to GPS and other sophisticated technologies, the status and location of sensitive shipments can be followed minute by minute.

Customised levels of service and products based on tracking technology are quietly revolutionising healthcare logistics.

At UPS Healthcare, for example, UPS® Premier offers a portfolio of service options supported by next-generation sensor and tracking technology — an express lane for critical healthcare shipments. Its features include enhanced shipment visibility, real-time monitoring by a 24/7/365 control tower, and tech-enabled priority handling.

Innovative logistics providers are even using novel tracking technology to transform parts of their traditional operations into dedicated healthcare supply chains — a network-within-a-network.

Networks within networks, like UPS® Premier, use scanners, barcodes, and tags (active and passive) to communicate the shipment status. Think of it as an Internet of Parcels. Shipments "talk" with sensors and with technicians, relaying real-time temperature, location, time in transit, in-flight or ground trajectory, and other vital statistics.

The most advanced networks blend GPS and mobile phone technology with Bluetooth/WiFi, multi-radio/LoRa (a low-power, wide-area network protocol), and RFID (radio frequency identification) technologies to assure visibility and status monitoring for healthcare shipments.

The electronic array means that a temperature-sensitive biologic sitting on hot tarmac in California during the fire season can alert the network if it is in trouble. Teams intervene, grab the parcel before it crosses a threshold, then refrigerate it or add dry ice.

The technology also conveys urgency — operators know where to place priority parcels for transportation, so they are unloaded first and fastest.

As healthcare relies more and more on the shipment — and protection — of high-value and high-sensitivity products, supply chain networks with revolutionary GPS tracking technology offer clear added value.

Advanced tracking technologies provide distinct advantages:

1. Readiness
The ability to know real-time status allows companies to make better decisions. When will the next shipment of medicines arrive? Which places need to be staffed and ready in distribution? Do special measures have to be taken? Supply chains can be better planned and prepared with better tracking tech.

2. Security
Some medicines cost $80,000 per dose. Some medicines can be addictive. Companies want to know the status of products like these at all times, with monitoring that can indicate the locations and movements of individuals who handle or oversee them. A GPS tracking umbrella allows active or passive monitoring... and offers the best assurance that shipments arrive where they should.

3. Performance
Tracking data allow users to learn things they did not know about their networks. What is the optimal route for a healthcare shipment? How many stops? How many times is a shipment handled? Can fuel be saved with alternate routing? The best tracking technology helps control manpower costs and improves ground planning — a green element. Novel tracking technology also enables contingency planning for times when things do not go as expected ...or for bigger projects.

4. Sales and Reputation
Use of a top-flight GPS tracking system builds trust with patients and customers. A firm with advanced tracking capability wins business over one that does not have it. Tracking is a selling tool and a reassurance tool.

Contact us to learn more about how to better protect your critical healthcare shipments with advanced tracking solutions.

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