UPS to Track Priority Healthcare Shipments With IoT Tech

The supply chain company joins a global movement to standardize the shipping industry with traceability technology.

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Need to Know

  • UPS has announced a new portfolio of IoT solutions for tracking and managing healthcare shipments.
  • To facilitate the updates, UPS is forming a dedicated Healthcare and Life Sciences (HCLS) unit, one of the first of its kind.
  • UPS joins FedEx, Mastercard, and other major brands in the push to enable transparency and traceability in the supply chain.
  • By 2023 the FDA will require healthcare products to be traced at a per-package level.

Analysis

UPS announced it will be implementing a new portfolio of tech-enabled IoT sensing and monitoring solutions to improve the “visibility, tracking, and management option” for healthcare shipments such as medicine and other prescription goods.

The shipping giant’s existing tracking capabilities will be combined with next-generation, on-package sensor technology. This new tech will allow for more comprehensive priority-handling services for time-dependent and temperature-sensitive packages, helping increase on-time reliability.  

The announcement comes as part of a massive effort by UPS to retrofit their facilities with smart systems capable of tracking shipments from the source. The company’s newly-formed Healthcare and Life Science unit will manage these healthcare-specific needs. 

UPS joins a wave of other major brands focused on tightening security in shipping and tracking. One example includes FedEx, who leads the charge in banding together with competitors (UPS included) to establish industry-wide blockchain standards. The two shipping giants are both members of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance. Other companies such as Mastercard have launched similar initiatives targeted at improving the supply chain through blockchain technology. 

Currently, most shipping and tracking companies use internal systems with a wide range of technologies and software, meaning communication between couriers, postal services, retailers, and customers can leave much to be desired. 

The shift to establish an industry-wide blockchain solution promises to improve customer identity verification, streamline and manage devices, and expedite customs clearances and automate duty payments, among many others, paving the path for a future of seamless and safe worldwide delivery. 

“With these technologies and processing plans, we will have greater flexibility to protect these urgent packages along the ‘chain of custody,’ provide contingency solutions and ensure best-in-class service reliability,” said UPS CEO David Abney. “The sensor technologies and special handling plans provide a high-value solution for great visibility and special contingency actions for critical packages.”

The announcement comes in line with new FDA rules that will go live in 2023 requiring manufacturers of prescription drugs to have “an electronic, interoperable system to identify and trace” products they distribute in the US.

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