5G - Future in Logistics and Supply-Chain Industry

5G - Future in Logistics and Supply-Chain Industry

Phil Wilson is an accomplished supply chain executive with over 25 years of experience in the field. Prior to joining Cryoport, he worked as Vice President, Supply Chain for Ancillare LP, and before that, as the Director of Global Operational Programs at Catalent Pharma Solutions and Cardinal Health, where he oversaw all aspects of the pharmaceutical supply chain. He holds a master’s degree in Supply Chain Management from Pennsylvania State University. and also holds a number of compliance certifications, including APICS (CTL) Transportation and Logistics, DRI International Business Continuity Professional, IATA/FIATA Certified Air Cargo Transportation Specialist, and US Treasury Department Customs Broker license. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of Cryoport Systems.

In an interview with Logistics and Transportation Review Magazine, Phil Wilson sheds light on the upcoming changes to active shipment monitoring amid the broader adoption of 4G/5G technology. He also talks about how this transition will impact the temperature-controlled supply chain and what Cryoport is doing to stay ahead of the curve.

Can you explain what active shipment monitoring is and why it is important, especially for life sciences industry?

The term "active shipment monitoring" refers to gathering information of ongoing transportation operations, providing customers with immediate notifications of key milestones and events while in transit. To effectively carry out this process, it's critical to connect and track shipments using a multi-faceted communication approach. Giving customers accurate shipping information and tracking updates helps showcase that the logistics service provider is dependable and maintains a robust and vetted supplychain, which is important for customer trust and retention. Active tracking also aids in the reduction of customer anxiety and confidence that the shipment has maintained integrity while in transit.

The life sciences industry is one that simply cannot afford delays or exceptions. People's health and safety could be jeopardized if a smooth operation that ensures on-time delivery and utmost compliance is not in place. In such a highly regulated industry, it is critical that your global shipping system allows you to actively track packages that are often temperature sensitive and highly valuable, while remaining compliant in order to ship to your destinations efficiently.


How will 5G technology and its adoption impact the life sciences supply chain?

The transition to a 4G or 5G network will significantly improve monitoring and shipment tracking for the life sciences industry. Moving to a higher level of connectivity will boost the accuracy and timeliness of critical shipment data. But on the other hand, one of the disadvantages we are currently experiencing and will continue to experience during the transitional phase is expanding data gaps due to poor network coverage. Carriers around the world are slowly decommissioning 2G/3G networks and replacing them with 4G or 5G network services. As a result, the distances between 2G/3G towers are constantly increasing, causing service gaps. Currently, 2G/3G is primarily used by some carriers as a backup in the event of a gap between a 4G or 5G tower and a remote location.

Can you share a few examples of current supply chain challenges in the life sciences industry and how 5G could help to solve these issues?

Most device manufacturers have been hard at work developing new multi-band devices which will accommodate both 2G,3G and a separate cellular module for 4G and 5G networks. Several companies currently in the development process have been caught off guard by COVID-related supply chain issues and are facing significant challenges in deploying and validating working devices by February 2022, the looming deadline in the United States, that most carriers have stated they will no longer support 2G networks.

At Cryoport, we first noticed this problem over a year ago and have been working on a variety of device monitoring options to ensure that the transition to 4G or 5G is as smooth as possible for our clients. We feel this hasn't really received much attention to date because many of the transportation providers that depend upon these devices don't fully integrate their solutions globally and many are unaware of the issue in the first place. And secondly, they rely on their equipment manufacturer to have a solution when it is needed. 

How can life sciences supply chain companies ensure that their existing systems and platforms are compatible with 5G-enabled technologies?

Before considering future logistics services with 4G/5G in mind, it is critical for anyone who uses active monitoring devices to understand the benefits, drawbacks, and impact of the continued network degradation of 2G and 3G. The industry in which we work relies on a complete and unbroken chain of custody for shipments to ensure that the integrity of the medical products is maintained throughout all stages of the supply chain.

What are your views on 5G adoption rates? Will adoption be gradual or accelerated?

The most pressing issue right now is that businesses are under tremendous pressure to transition to 4G or 5G networks by February 2022, as 2G and 3G networks will be phased out in the United States. So, in order to provide a faster and responsive network to the customers, the shift from 2G & 3G to 4G & 5G is undoubtedly critical. The next five to six years will be crucial as this transition will continue to reverberate throughout the rest of the world.

How does Cryoport think about the future of logistics with 5G in mind? 

We've always prioritized providing an end-to-end supply chain solution for our clients, and this has proven to be a winning formula for us thus far. We've always focused on integrating equipment and logistics solutions into a single entity, ensuring a secure chain of compliance and communications for our customers. Globally, the transition to 4G or 5G will simply be another enhancement to our already world-class service. 

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