From The Editor | September 28, 2015

The Evolution Of A Cold Chain Conference

ken congdon

By Ken Congdon

The Evolution Of A Cold Chain Conference

Next week, the 13th Cold Chain GDP & Temperature Management Logistics Forum (or the Cold Chain Global Forum for short) will be held in Boston. Over the past decade, this event has evolved from a niche conference to the life science industry’s leading event for temperature-controlled supply chains and products. According to the event’s coordinator and Divisional Director of Life Sciences at IQPC, Claudia Rubino, many factors have contributed to the continued success of the forum.

“Regulatory changes coupled with rapid growth in temperature-controlled technologies and services created a perfect storm of cold chain demand in life sciences,” she says. “Industry leaders needed to stay abreast of guideline updates and potential solutions. Our forum provided pharma companies with a venue in which to learn about these topics not only from regulators and consultants, but also their peers. This allowed attendees to benchmark their cold chain performance against other leading organizations. As a result, interest in the event has continued to grow.”

Ocean Freight, Data Analytics Key Educational Opportunities

The Cold Chain Global Forum prides itself on providing unparalleled education and thought leadership on all things related to the temperature-controlled supply chain. This year’s educational program features speakers from leading pharmaceutical companies such as Merck, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Genentech. Over time, the event had also gained a more global focus.

“Over the past few years, in particular, we started inviting more representatives and regulators from different regions of the world,” says Rubino. “The life sciences industry is global in nature, so it’s important to share international perspectives and updates.”

Several familiar and relevant topics including guidelines for CRT (controlled room temperature)/ambient products, risk assessment and management strategies, and continuous monitoring versus qualification will be covered at the 13th Annual Cold Chain Global Forum. However, there are two emerging trends that are part of this year’s educational program that Rubino is particularly excited about — ocean freight and data analytics.

“We started talking about ocean freight three years ago,” she says. “Back then it seemed like a far-away dream and no one believed it was a viable transportation solution. In just a few short years, we’ve witnessed rapid technology advancements and ocean freight pilots that have generated significant cost savings. Now, everybody wants to learn more. We have two educational sessions on this topic on the agenda this year, including a case study that outlines project details, quality improvements, and cost savings.” 

Data analytics followed a similar path according to Rubino. These initiatives have been around for some time, but recently the technology developments have allowed for data analytics to accomplish a lot more when it comes to maintaining a quality cold chain. Life science supply chain professionals are beginning to understand the impact these technologies can have on their operations.

Balancing Risk And Cost Is A Central Theme

All of the topics slated as part of the 13th Annual Cold Chain Global Forum educational program center on the key theme of balancing risk with cost. In fact, the tagline for this year’s event is Where Product Integrity Meets Value — Balancing Compliance, Risks, and Costs.       

“We went with this particular tagline because the concept was overwhelmingly attached to every conversation I had with the leading stakeholders in the industry,” says Rubino. “Whether you’re considering packaging, modes of transportation, or continuous monitoring — all of those aspects are influenced by risk and cost factors that compel organizations to make one decision over another.”      

Rubino also believes interaction is instrumental to the educational process. As such, several interactive sessions including GDP Roundtable Discussions and Blue Sky Room Discussions, have been added to this year’s agenda. These settings provide attendees with the opportunity to ask questions that matter most to them and shape the conversation to address their specific challenges.

One-Stop Shop For Cold Chain Technology Evaluation

This Cold Chain Global Forum is not only a great source of educational information, but potential solutions as well. Life Science logistics and supply chain professionals often need to evaluate a variety of solutions to impact their operations, and the exhibit floor at the Cold Chain Global Forum offers an ideal venue for comparison shopping.

“The Cold Chain Global Forum brings numerous technology vendors with various areas of expertise together under one roof,” says Rubino. “Attendees can gather all the information they need from this single event rather than shopping around and trying to inform themselves via different channels. This is an effective use of time and energy for technology decision makers, and it seems to be catching on. Over the years, we’ve seen the amount of actual business conducted on the show floor increase exponentially.”

The Cold Chain Global Forum strives to make the technology evaluation process as thorough, convenient, and painless as possible through what it calls Technology Demo Drives. These events take place during one of the major morning breaks in the conference schedule. At this time, attendees are provided with a map of the exhibit hall floor plan and a list highlighting all of the sponsors participating in the Demo Drive. Each of these sponsors then presents scheduled, 15-minute demonstrations of their latest and most innovative technologies at their booths.

“Attendees seem to respond to this approach to vendor interaction approach,” says Rubino. “They feel like they can gain a good overview of product and service capabilities without feeling pressured into lengthy sales conversations. They have the power and freedom to engage the vendor further if a solution is of interest to them. If not, there’s no obligation for them to listen to a sales pitch.”

Recognizing Leading Cold Chain Innovators

A new addition to the agenda this year is the Cold Chain Global Forum Excellence Awards. These awards honor organizations that have developed innovative solutions to advance the temperature-controlled supply chain. Winners are selected by the Cold Chain Global Forum Advisory Board and will be announced onsite at the event on Thursday, October 8.  

“We’d like these awards to become an annual staple at the event,” says Rubino. “It’s important to recognize those that have dedicated so much to developing new and innovative solutions that can propel our industry forward.”

I, for one, am looking forward to attending the Cold Chain Global Forum in Boston next week. Keep an eye out for future articles that touch on many of the topics presented at the show. It’s not too late for you to secure your ticket to attend the event in person. You can still register here. Don’t miss out on this informative industry conference. I hope to see you there!