Just before Canadian Shipper was going to press in early January, DHL Global Forwarding released the LifeTrack mobile app for customers.
The free application, available for iOS and Android, grants users on-the-go access to DHL’s proprietary online cold chain tracking and management platform through its Thermonet network of Certified Life Sciences Stations, the company said.
The app also complements the DHL ActiveTracing solution to track and trace groupage shipments, and the Cargo Mobile Tracking app to trace sea and air freight shipments.
LifeTrack allows customers to access an overview of their shipments, alerts about any in-transit issues such as temperature excursions, and instant support through round-the-clock access to cold chain experts.
“Customers want peace of mind on the go. With time critical shipments if anything is not going according to plan they want to communicate with the global team,” said David Bang, Global Head of DHL Temperature Management Solutions/CEO LifeConEx, DHL Global Forwarding.
The company offers two distinct product lines: ThermoNet, and LifeConEx, and any customers currently using either or a combo of both have automatic access to the app.
Over 100 companies are currently using the LifeTrack system. “We’re encouraging them to use the mobile app for information on the go. We believe this will pick up fairly quickly and be a seamless transition from website to mobile app,” Bang said.
Customers are under pressure on regulatory compliance. How do they optimize?
“There are three fundamentals: there has to be a very clearly documented process between the players. Sometimes this process can be quite complicated. When it comes to compliance, this process has to be matched with every single shipment. It’s not just about tracking and tracing, there are all kinds of other processes that need to be integrated. Continuous improvement is part of the process. We believe that the technology is an enabler. Mobile apps will break the communication barriers, especially in the emerging markets. When those shipments are going into those countries, they might not have PCs or laptops available to them. But all of them have a mobile phone. We believe that this technology can link everybody. We are looking into extending this mobile phone app also to non-DHL employees, i.e. brokers,” Bang said.
With regard to harnessing Big Data, LifeTrack and the mobile app may be able to help turn that data around, mitigate temperature risks and move temperature sensitive cargo better, Bang said.
“We hear this from customers and we plan to work on this in 2016,” he added.
Healthcare logistics is a major growth industry and from DHL Global Forwarding’s perspective, the number one challenge is complying with GDP (Good Distribution Practice) regulations. GDP doesn’t give the customer any specifics about the transport or temperature controlled packaging-just guidelines around reporting etc to regulatory authorities. It is still very much a variable market in terms of solution.
“As much as it gives the guidelines it doesn’t lock you into a specific solution or market-that is stll a bit of a challenge. We work with all the pharma companies out there and the different solutions they have,” said Gary Vince, Head of Air Freight , Canada, with DHL Global Forwarding (Canada) Inc.
“The pharmaceutical industry is working hard to try and become as compliant as possible. That includes temperature control. When moving goods from airfreight perspective you need to have assurance,” he said.
Sign-off procedures are built around each customer, depending upon the actual supply chain origin/destination. Each transfer point and handoff is monitored.
Outside of that companies use their customer-specific monitors put inside the package.
“What I’m seeing is that there is a significant change going on in the passive temperature control world: products that are in the 15-25 degree temperature range. That’s still pretty broad-you can move them into a passive solution that doesn’t require batteries. There are also passive packout solutions being brought into the market: here the concern lies with when the carrier is handling the shipment and it’s exposed. GDP has pushed the customer to look at the risk of those. It comes back to the value of the product,” Vince said.