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Best Practices for Shipping Medical Equipment

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November 12, 2022
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Best Practices for Shipping Medical Equipment
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The healthcare industry is one of the largest U.S. employers, with over 900,000 registered businesses within the Health Care and Social Assistance sector, employing more than 20 million workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this industry will likely grow another 14% in the next decade due to an aging population and their increased medical needs. The global pandemic continues to place a strain on the healthcare industry, which depends on a constant replenishment of equipment and medical supplies to fulfill the needs of the sick and vulnerable. This is precisely why the logistics behind shipping medical equipment is understandably important that the commodities arrive and without delay. This article explores some of the methods and best practices available for shipping medical supplies within logistics. It will outline some of the challenges involved within logistics management, and end by exploring some of the key benefits that shippers can take advantage of when partnering with a transportation service provider that specializes in hauling medical equipment for the healthcare industry.

What is the Role of Logistics Management when Shipping Medical Equipment?

Perhaps we could start by trying to imagine the amount of disposable single-use medical equipment that your local hospital uses each day. Masks, gloves, bandages, gauze, gowns, IV bags, syringes, and medical tools certainly come to mind. But there are also time-sensitive and perishable items that must be replenished, such as blood, plasma, essential medicines and other pharmaceutical products. In each city across the country, there are thousands of patients, doctors, workers, and families that depend on these essential items for everyday life. Logistics directors who are in charge of managing the flow of these strategically important goods must carefully balance the relationships between suppliers and customers, while also keeping in mind their overall transportation expenditure, and the fact that medical supplies must be delivered immediately. The complexity involved in managing this highly regulated and detail oriented supply chain makes it very important that the logistics providers that are utilized for the shipment of medical equipment be experienced in supporting the individual needs of each particular shipment.

How do you Ship Medical Equipment?

Each shipment of medical supplies requires careful planning, documentation, and coordination to make sure the loads arrive undamaged and in full. Medical equipment is very expensive, especially when moving high valued machinery and precision instruments, such as CT scanners, hospital beds, MRI machines, ultrasound equipment, X-ray technology, and dental chairs. These high valued cargos often require special accommodations and safety needs.It is essential to look for transportation providers that offer value-added services that specifically cater towards the healthcare industry, such as dedicated transportation, consolidated LTL, temperature-controlled trucks, last-mile service, and technology platforms that provide real-time visibility on all shipments.

The Challenges of Logistics Management with Medical Equipment

With the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we collectively witnessed the crucial necessity of having a well-stocked healthcare network in order to save lives and tend to those unwell. Medical personnel and their facilities depend on a constant supply of medical equipment to ensure demands for medical treatment are uninhibited. There are several current challenges that the healthcare industry faces when it comes to managing the supply chain of medical supplies. This section will highlight a few of them.

Poor Visibility

It is the individual responsibility of healthcare logistics directors to make sure their facilities are fully stocked to ensure their patient’s health. Many healthcare companies depend on transportation service providers for a range of services, but oftentimes the biggest challenge is knowing where the truck is and when will the truck deliver. One of the biggest challenges facing healthcare professionals involves visibility over their loads, or lack thereof. Real-time visibility and technology platforms that seamlessly integrate into existing APIs are the wave of the future, and features that modern transportation providers offer when partnering with the medical industry.

Poor Route Optimization

Most companies operating in the healthcare industry pull their supplies from readily available distribution centers. These entities are fed by well-established national supply chain networks that connect port terminals, biotech companies, and major pharmaceutical companies from around the world. But even with industry knowledge on where the supplies are shipping from, route optimization remains a problem for the healthcare industry. This problem can get exacerbated by global factors, such as political conflict, inflation, rising fuel prices, and shortages in equipment needed for transportation. Partnering with a 3PL that offers a range of services specifically tailored to the healthcare industry is a healthy way to help optimize routes and cut costs when possible.

Poor Carrier Density

Perhaps the most challenging issue facing the healthcare supply chain involves sourcing quality dedicated trucks that can provide specialized transportation options. The standard 3PL often over promises and underperforms on service. This is due to problems involved in carrier procurement. When it comes to shipping medical equipment, promising a large carrier network is often not enough. The healthcare industry needs transportation providers that offer flexibility, specialized transport, and a dedicated capacity that services the needs of a single customer, and just just what rate might pay the most that day. With all the variety involved in shipping medical equipment, it’s ideal that they partner with a service provider with a track record of hauling pharmaceuticals, medical devices, clinical supplies, and medical equipment.

What Types of Medical Equipment Need Special Logistics Service?

There are many medical commodities that require special handling when they are hauled around in trucks and delivered to healthcare facilities. This section takes a look at some of the products that require special handling.

Temperature-Controlled Pharmaceuticals

The Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots are just some notable examples of specialized medical commodities that require special logistics service. Vaccines in general require refrigeration to ensure their effectiveness. Other medicines such as prescription drugs, chemical compounds, and saline solutions may also require temperature-controlled environments.

Precision Surgical Instruments

When shipping medical equipment, one of the most important requirements involves the cleanliness and purity of the product. Product rejection of medical supplies is incredibly costly, and therefore special care is needed when transporting medical goods. Palletized goods must be handled precisely, ensuring that the packaging is not exposed to debris, dirt, or sun exposure that may cause physical harm to the product. Medical equipment and surgical instruments are sterilized and packaged to prevent contamination, and because of that, these shipments are very sensitive during transportation. Loading and unloading must be organized quickly to prevent exposure to elements such as humidity, dust, improper handling.

Hazardous Materials

The transportation of medical supplies also involves things like bodily fluids, tissues, and organs that require rapid and precision delivery to ensure they survive shipment. Laboratories, doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other medical facilities constantly move hazardous materials that are needed to save lives and assist in the health of those who need it. That’s why most health care professionals utilize service providers with a track record of working in the healthcare industry.

The Benefits of Using a Third-Party Medical Logistics Provider

Healthcare professionals are being constantly challenged by the ongoing global pandemic and the need to provide health service for millions of individuals each day. This is a part from all the regular care that people utilize to improve their bodily health. These challenges can become overwhelming, especially when medical supplies need constant fulfillment in hospitals and care facilities. That’s why there are major benefits for logistics directors in these industries to partner with 3PLs that specialize in transporting medical supplies. These specialized companies offer a unique advantage of preparing for the specific requirements necessary in transporting sensitive goods that require rapid fulfillment. The care needed for the movement of medical commodities requires a dedicated team of professionals with experience in handling the unique directions that each medical facility needs for their shipments. Certain 3PLs who handle medical supplies offer their healthcare customers total transparency on their shipments, including tech stacks that can help optimize supply chains, making sure that sensitive shipments arrive on time and in full. An optimized supply chain in the healthcare logistics field can help save and improve lives. That is why the providers these companies utilize should already specialize in the movement of medical equipment.

Wicker Park Logistics Specializes in Shipping Medical Equipment

When it comes to shipping time-sensitive medical supplies and equipment, most healthcare professionals count on Wicker Park Logistics to service their dentists, doctors, laboratories, hospitals, and care facilities. From pediatrician offices to major medical centers, Wicker Park Logistics provides customized transportation services that are tailored to the individual needs of each customer. Wicker Park Logistics combines the latest technology to provide real-time visibility on customer shipments, with truck capacity that is sourced specifically around the needs of their healthcare worker. Not only do they work to optimize freight routes to ensure on-time delivery, but Wicker Park works to help reduce redundancies and optimize supply chains so they run as efficiently as possible. The medical industry deserves the best for their patients, and it starts with Wicker Park Logistics. Contact us today!

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