Acquisitions realign UK logistics services, cold chain packaging

March 3, 2014
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - March/April 2014,

UPS acquires a temperature-controlled ground fleet, while Pelican buys Cool Logistics

In February, the UK turned into an attractive location for investments by US companies involved in healthcare logistics. For UPS, buyer of Polar Speed (London), the purchase expands ground-based, temperature-controlled deliveries; for Pelican, the acquisition of Cool Logistics (Bedfordshire, UK) expands its range of product offerings, as well as the geographies globally that it can serve directly with temperature-controlled packaging materials.

One way to address the need to maintain refrigerated conditions for some pharma products is to pack them with insulation and refrigerant; another is to convey them in a powered container or vehicle. The latter is the option that UPS will now be offering to hospitals, pharmacies and even direct-to-patient in the UK.

“Polar Speed is an excellent strategic and operational fit for UPS because of its focus on quality assurance, compliance, technology and monitoring solutions to protect high-value and sensitive pharmaceuticals during storage and transportation,” said Cindy Miller, president, UPS Europe, in a statement. “The acquisition will help UPS meet the needs of healthcare customers who want to reach the important UK market offering increased value in managing more flexible and efficient healthcare supply chains.”

Polar Speed utilizes a fleet of 118 actively monitored temperature-controlled vehicles for transporting both 2—8°C refrigerated and 15–25°C products in accordance with UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidelines. A UPS statement says that the fleet is outfitted on-board temperature recorders and alarms to alert drivers of potential temperature excursions as well as PolarTrack, an online portal linked to a satellite navigation system allowing customers to access real-time delivery status and temperature conditions of their products. The acquisition adds three facilities with advanced warehousing management systems, full quality assurance services, and an experienced workforce to UPS’s existing global healthcare network, now totaling 45 healthcare facilities.

Packaging portfolio

Having earlier acquired Minnesota Thermal Science, a cold-chain packaging vendor, Pelican Products (Torrance, CA) is now adding Cool Logistics. Cool Logistics, besides having an extensive line of passive temperature-controlled containers, has sales and distribution offices around the world. “Cool Logistics’ presence in countries such as the UK, India, Singapore and Australia will allow us to better service international markets, bringing critical solutions to our global customers,” said Lyndon Faulkner, president and CEO of Pelican, in a statement. “With this acquisition and the recent integration of Minnesota Thermal Science, we’re now positioned to provide customers with the industry’s widest range of packaging solutions leveraging a variety of technologies.”

Pelican, known for its heavy-duty containers for electronics and military equipment, entered the pharma cold-chain market a few years ago with its Pelican reusable cases. The Minnesota Thermal acquisition brought that company’s Credo products, high-performance containers that are also reusable, as well as single-use Sherpa systems and Cool-Pall pallet shippers. Cool Logistics brings a range of small- to pallet-size passive containers. The company recently announced the Chronos line, a redesigned line of prequalified shippers, said to operate up to 120 hours in real-world applications. “Silverskin” thermal covers (for controlled room-temperature shipping) and an evaporative cooling technology called NanoCool round out its product lines.