The world's eyes are on India, which is soon going to start the world’s largest immunisation drive for Covid-19. Clearly, it has been a remarkable effort by the various stakeholders who are leading the fight against the pandemic which has engulfed the world.
Among the challenges for India in its vaccination drive has been the availability of cold storage facilities to safely transport the vaccine from pharma manufacturing facilities to various parts of the country. Mumbai-based cold chain logistics company, Kool-ex has been gearing up to provide the logistical support to the pharma companies.
On January 11, 2021, the Serum Institute of India (SII), a biotechnology and pharmaceuticals company and the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, began shipping ‘Covishield’ across the country. In what is only the start of the vaccination drive, Kool-ex, in 30 hours, has transported and delivered over 1.1 crore (11 million) vaccine doses manufactured by SII across the country.
Speaking to Autocar Professional, Kunal Agarwal, co-founder and director, Kool-ex said, “We are very proud about this operation as we are carrying one of the most important and prestigious cargos. Moreover, we are a proud Indian company transporting a Made-in-India vaccine. It is an unbelievable feeling – I was emotional and I got goosebumps when I saw the first truck exit the facility.”
As the vaccination is expected to go on for a couple of years, Agarwal feels it will be “business as usual. “We have been transporting medicines / vaccines, which require such specialised transportation. Technically, there is no change in our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the same. There is a lot of coordination required with the local authorities, police, states and various government agencies, to ensure the assignments are delivered intact and on time. It’s also about unloading and moving out on time.”
According to Agarwal, Kool-ex has deployed over “400 reefer trucks for the transportation, with another 500 trucks that can be added on short notice.”
When queried about how many vials are being transported in each truck, Agarwal said “We don’t know how many vials are there in each truck, as generally they have different boxes for different sizes of vial. The loading of the trucks is also dependent on the ordering system of the government, so sometimes, it maybe loaded to three-fourths capacity and sometimes it will be full. There is no fixed quantity at the moment that anyone can predict, but I am assuming as the days go by the volumes will increase and we will see more loading; and it will become fully loaded. On the first day, in a matter of 30 hours we have transported and delivered 1.1 crore doses across India, up country, down country and at Pune and international airports.”
Temperature-controlled, pharma distribution centres
Furthermore, Kool-ex has also inked a strategic partnership with IndoSpace, which is one of the largest investors, developers and managers of industrial real-estate and warehousing in India, to build customised, GDP/GWP-compliant, temperature-controlled, pharma distribution centres across the country.
In the first phase, the partners are jointly designing and setting up three warehouses close to Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore by 2021. At 42,000 pallet positions in each warehouse, these are said to be the largest standalone cold chain facility in the country.
More power to companies like Kool-ex, which are doing their bit for the country.