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July 15, 2020
Software case study

Data-driven software saves medicine during pandemic

Lockdown in India, cooling chambers running to capacity, canceled flights — and no room for errors on a 54-ton shipment of essential pneumococcal and varicella vaccines. As lockdown drew Mumbai airport to a standstill, temperature-sensitive medicines piled up on steaming hot tarmac reaching over 40 degrees.


The challenge ahead

As the demand for vaccines is growing all around the world, the pharma company was struggling with the increasing complexity of its cold chain transport. Meanwhile, they wanted to break new ground with regard to quality and sustainability.


SkyCell’s Solution

The medicines which were planned for shipment from Brussels to Mumbai are required to prevent infections that lead to pneumonia, blood poisoning, and meningitis; conditions all considered fatal and known for causing irreversible brain damage.

With previous deliveries of similar products failing in common throw-away packaging, SkyCell’s 2500C container model would enable the medicine to be kept in a controlled temperature environment of between +2 – +8°C for the entirety of their journey. The trouble came when a flight was canceled at the transfer point.

When the flight canceled mid-shipment, the question posed was whether we could store the vulnerable medicine for 72 hours in variable temperature conditions until a new route was found. If no alternative solution was found, the medicine would degrade and become unusable, since the temperature outside the container fluctuated between 5° to a whopping 44°C, and all airport cooling rooms remained full. While the Covid-19 epidemic closed down lanes to Mumbai airport, life-saving medicines were prevented from reaching people in need.


Data-driven Lane Risk Assessment

It was our Lane Risk Assessment software that saved the day by planning a safe onward journey via Doha, a plan that was based on its near one billion data points collected from previous shipments. Below you can see the software calculated the containers would arrive in Mumbai after about 50 hours delivery time, where an ambient temperature of 35°C was expected, but the container’s inner temperature (blue line) was to stay between +3°C and +7°C.


The shipment

During the actual shipment of 56 hybrid containers, the containers had automatically charged to full capacity during the interim storage at Doha airport, and kept the medicine at a steady temperature of around 5°C for 72 hours after the arrival at Mumbai airport. See below to compare the steady internal container temperature to the variable outside ambient temperature during transit.

The temperature readout shows a steady internal temperature between 4.8°C - 5.6°C (dark blue line) while the ambient temperature (turquoise line) fluctuated between 5°C and 44°C.

The successful outcome

Through the use of this advanced software, as well as strong collaboration between our partners, the medicine was delivered to patients in India completely safe and ready to use. Without the informative historical data of previous real-life shipments, this would not have been possible.

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