Cold Chain Integrity Challenges Biopharmaceutical Industry

Cold Chain Integrity Challenges Biopharmaceutical Industry

Written by Modality Solutions

Posted on: September 5, 2017

Cold chain integrity is a growing concern in the biopharmaceutical industry. High value cargos are becoming more frequent targets for theft. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that it is the costliest crime in the United States. This article will provide helpful guidance to improve your cold chain integrity (and more generally supply chain integrity) as well as some simple tasks you can do today to enhance security for your organization.

The security portion of cold chain integrity can be broadly separated into fixed site security and rolling site security. This is a good logical separation that is also used for force protection and counterterrorism. It is commonly believed that fixed site security is the easier of the two, but I disagree. The two categories of security-fixed and rolling stock, are different, but one is not necessarily more challenging than the other. This is how they differ:

Fixed Site
– Static target; easier to observe threats
– Higher value target
– Easier to implement physical security measures

Rolling Stock
– Moving target; more difficult to observe threat
– lower value target
– Easier to implement intelligent security measures

Fixed site strategies should focus on maximizing the security advantages and minimizing the vulnerabilities. Because a fixed site is easier to ‘case’ by a threat, security planning should address that concern. For example, if guards are expected to patrol the perimeter fence, varying their routes and timing defeats observers who are trying to discover a pattern to their patrol routes. Fixed sites are usually higher value targets because of the quantity of inventory at the facility. Minimizing inventory is a good business practice as well as a method to reduce the potential loss in case of a theft at the facility. Finally, application of effective physical security measures is very cost effective for fixed sites. If you are responsible for a fixed site in pharmaceutical distribution, now would be a great time to check your perimeter:

  • Is the fence in good repair?
  • Are all gates locked?
  • Are shrubs and other vegetation cut back at or near the fence?
  • Is lighting adequate so there are no blind spots around the perimeter at night?

If your perimeter is the outside wall of the storage building:

  • Are all points of access in good repair and secured? (windows and doors)
  • Are shrubs and vegetation cut back at or near the building?
  • Is exterior lighting adequate so there are no blind spots?

Contact your local law enforcement agency. Many of them will offer a free security assessment. Ask for additional business check patrols around your building over the next week.

If you have trucks/rolling stock and you want to improve security, there are several techniques to address security vulnerabilities. GPS/geo tracking with geo fencing is excellent, and I highly recommend it. Ensure your drivers do not stop for any reason within 200 miles of the pickup location. When a driver picks up a load, they should have a full tank of gas and be ready for the trip. Areas close to the pickup location are the highest risk for truck theft. Have your drivers vary their route, especially locations where they stop for bathroom breaks, meals, or refueling. Drivers should always turn off their truck and lock it whenever they are away from it. Tractor and trailer should never be separated. Review these procedures with your drivers frequently; their expertise and attention will significantly reduce their vulnerability to theft.

These are just a few simple ways to enhance your cold chain integrity. In coming weeks, I’ll delve deeper into enhancement of security for fixed site and rolling site security. In addition, I’ll discuss use of appropriate risk assessment tools to provide improved guidance on how to efficiently address security vulnerabilities.

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