UPS recently announced key expansion initiatives for its UPS Healthcare segment, including its UPS Premier Service portfolio, which is comprised of what the company describes as three-level flexibility to meet the unique needs of its healthcare shipper customers.
The company added that UPS Premier monitors packages at all times, creating visibility and prioritization for each shipment. And it added that sensor technology enables real-time recovery of UPS Premier shipments if they encounter network delays, temperature deviations, or other issues. What’s more, it said that UPS Premier Silver and Gold are now available in major global markets, and UPS Premier Platinum, which will be made available in the fall, enables shippers with the ability to monitor temperature, light, and humidity while tracking shipments coming into and out of the UPS network.
UPS said that UPS Premier connects major global trade lanes, while also expanding geographically, in turn, providing customers with various benefits, including: efficient customs brokerage; environmental monitoring; and visibility.
“Visibility and traceability are essential to prioritizing the life-saving medications our customers ship and their customers need,” said UPS Healthcare President Wes Wheeler. “The difference between life and death for patients often hinges on the ability to quickly ship and precisely track, monitor and locate medications.”
In an e-mail Q&A, Wheeler provided LM with an in-depth over of UPS Premier, which follows below.
LM: What drove the need for UPS to make these enhancements to UPS® Premier? How long had it been planned/in the works?
Wheeler: UPS Premier was originally planned to be a global offering. So, since its launch in 2021, we have been building the infrastructure and systems needed to support expansion throughout our global network. In this post-pandemic period, we are focusing our supply chain routes on the key areas of the world outside of the US and Europe, where complex pharma and med device manufacturing are being done. Key countries such as Singapore, India, China, South Korea, Brazil, and Japan are next on our list.
Introducing UPS Premier in new markets allows more of our customers to receive the benefits of visibility and smooth movement through global trade lanes. The newest innovations in biologics, specialty pharmaceuticals, and personalized medicine require the precision logistics UPS Premier provides, to support more complex patient-critical, time- and temperature-sensitive products.
LM: What are the main benefits of these enhancements for your shipper customers? What do they provide, or offer?
Wheeler: The global market for biologic therapeutic drugs is set to increase from $285.5 billion in 2020 to $421.8 billion by 2025. Innovations in biologics, specialty pharmaceuticals, and personalized medicine, like COVID-19 vaccines, are driving significant demand for precision logistics to support more patient-critical, time-and temperature-sensitive products. UPS® Premier allows our UPS Healthcare customers to prioritize their most important healthcare shipments as they move through the UPS network. Using multiple sensor technologies that have been integrated into UPS operations systems, we now offer global healthcare customers the visibility and control needed for their most critical shipments.
UPS Premier Silver offers 24/7 command center monitoring, prioritized handling within the UPS network, and enhanced recovery options for critical shipments. Each package label is embedded with an RFID sensor for enhanced visibility and transparency within the UPS global network.
UPS Premier Gold, the original offering, contains all the features of UPS Premier Silver but adds real-time visibility within 10 feet, enabled by a mesh sensor built into the package labeling. UPS Premier Gold also provides built-in service recovery features within the UPS global network.
Over the past two years, UPS Premier Gold service helped enable the delivery of more than 1.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines around the world with near-perfect on-time delivery.
UPS Premier Platinum launches in the fall. It contains all the features of UPS Premier Gold and Silver using cellular and GPS tracking that can monitor the location within and outside of the UPS network. It also monitors the environment, essential for critical healthcare packages like patient-centric tissue samples, limited-inventory items, biologics, and vaccines that require temperature-controlled environments. In the meantime, UPS Healthcare offers a global GPS tracking device called ‘Sentry’ which has all of the capabilities of our new Platinum product. These devices are currently in use and are available for specialized shipments anywhere in the world.
LM: What are the main competitive advantages of this news, from a UPS perspective?
Wheeler: UPS’s global network, combined with next-generation on-package sensor technology to enable priority flow paths, provides a powerful competitive advantage for UPS Healthcare. UPS Premier raises the bar for the entire healthcare logistics industry by providing unmatched visibility, control, and prioritization for the most critical healthcare shipments. These enhancements, coupled with contingency actions provided by a 24/7 command center, ensure unmatched visibility and treatment for critical healthcare shipments.
UPS Healthcare will be announcing a new visibility platform in the near future that integrates all available data from all sources including UPS Premier, our cold chambers, pour ultra-cold freezers, our internal network, our third-party carriers, and the packages themselves. This visibility platform will offer a unique single source of all supply chain data in one convenient place.