Measuring Up When it Comes to Temperature-Controlled Transportation
Performance measurements in the form of metrics or key performance indicators help companies in streamlining operations and improving the bottom line. When logistics metrics are shared externally among stakeholders, for instance between healthcare shippers and transportation providers, this may lead to an improvement in the supply chain and a better customer experience overall. Were your shipments delayed? You can find out why by accessing reports and having regular discussions. Transportation providers have established general metrics to report shipping performance. FedEx shipper business reviews provided by FedEx Sales professionals share service performance for service level, in other words the percentage of on-time delivery for a given service. Shipments that were not delivered on time are either classified under Right Day Late (RDL), Wrong Day Late (WDL), or lost shipments. Causes of delays are also specified such as weather, mechanical, and clearance, to name a few. Internal FedEx performance metrics are obviously more detailed, but targets and trends remain confidential. Metrics categories aim at differentiating controllable versus non-controllable service failures.
When it comes to temperature-controlled transportation in particular, there is a perceived lack of performance measurements in the supply chain. For cold chain healthcare shipments, product integrity is paramount with speed a distant second, as temperature excursions could irreversibly damage chemical and biological components. Surprisingly, often the only metric reported by transportation providers to the external community relates to the booking accuracy, i.e. shipment moved or flown as planned. In the absence of standard metrics adopted by the industry, transportation providers need to define their own performance metrics. FedEx Express, which is committed to providing engineering excellence, has established specific internal cold chain metrics such as compliance to default temperature settings in its B777F long-haul fleet and average time to respond to Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPA) requests. Since shippers are typically collecting temperature measurements during transit, their feedback is also valuable to FedEx, as customer experience drives continuous improvement. Lane mapping exercises performed on a seasonal basis in collaboration with healthcare shippers contributes to a better understanding of temperature profiles experienced in the FedEx® network.
As part of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 (FDASIA), the FDA is seeking quality metrics to mitigate risk of supply shortage due to manufacturing quality issues and improve overall control. Since many manufacturers outsource services such as logistics and transportation, some of their problematic processes or series of tasks may be ones they do not own or control directly. So, while the FDA focus is currently on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), one can imagine that it will spread to Good Distribution Practices (GDP) over time.