UPS Healthcare's Commitment to Precision Logistics

Cathy O’Brien, UPS Healthcare’s Vice President of International Sales, on Laboratory Logistics & Strengthening the Healthcare Sector Supply Chain

Many businesses have started out with more than a US$100 loan and failed, but the simple postal messaging service UPS did and has become an iconic logo along the roads of over 200 countries where it now delivers.

Its team of over 10,000 healthcare logistics experts spans 216 facilities in 37 countries and territories, who are committed to being ‘Quality Focused. Patient Driven.’ In the last 12 months, UPS has delivered 490m shipments and 1.7m clinical trials globally. The company also has a strong track record for acquisitions and integrations, recent examples include Marken, Bomi and recently, the acquisition of Transports Chabas Santé in France. UPS has also entered into an agreement to acquire MNX Global Logistics, a global time-critical logistics provider. 

Clinical laboratory logistics are now more complex than ever. The push for rapid clinical trials and new drug development, combined with the growth of decentralised and virtual trials, calls for change and innovation. UPS’ new reverse logistics service, UPS® Pickup Point is designed to fix this. 

“Our solution to embrace this growth and better support healthcare facilities was to launch UPS® Pickup Point locations for laboratory customers across key European healthcare markets, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France and Spain,” explains Cathy O’Brien, UPS Healthcare’s Vice President of International Sales. 

O’Brien spoke exclusively to Healthcare Digital to discuss her role at UPS, how the company supports the healthcare sector and what the next 12 months holds for UPS.

Driving innovation in healthcare transportation

O’Brien has been working in the healthcare transportation and logistics sector 17 years, undertaking various leadership roles within sales and marketing. 

“I am proud to have participated in many leading innovation projects particularly within specialty pharma and R&D, including delivering sustainable best-in-class quality solutions for cold chain transportation.”

O’Brien joined UPS in 2016 as a Managing Director for UPS Healthcare’s European business. While based in Ireland, O’Brien took on further responsibility for the ISMEA region in 2020. She is responsible for driving revenue growth across Europe, AMEA and Latin America for the end-to-end supply chain service. O’Brien offers dedicated support to pharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostic laboratory and other segments, such as dental. 

“I lead an international team that supports UPS Healthcare customers with their most complex global supply challenges,” she said. 

Working with some of the innovative global pharmaceutical manufacturers, O’Brien’s team tackles some of the most complex global logistics projects, including the recent expedited roll-out of cold chain supply chains for COVID-19 vaccines.

UPS healthcare's ongoing commitment to innovation and expansion in the European logistics market

The service UPS provides is unique among logistics providers in Europe and creates a ‘many-to-one’ reverse logistics solution, that establishes pickup confirmation and visibility of time-sensitive specimens. 

“This reduces complexity for healthcare companies by decreasing the number of collection sites, improving reliability, control and streamlining their shipment of samples to a central lab,” O’Brien said.

“Working with the recently expanded UPS Premier capability, UPS® Pickup Point locations mark another step in ongoing service and technology expansions to meet the evolving needs of critical time- and temperature-sensitive healthcare shippers. As a business, we pride ourselves on continually investing and upgrading our services to go beyond the competition and supplying a quality end-to-end solution.”

Over the next 12 months, UPS has plans to upgrade its healthcare offerings. 

“When you look to the future of healthcare, it’s all about innovations in biologics, specialty pharmaceuticals and personalised medicine,” O’Brien said. “These make up most of the new products in development and are driving significant demand for precision logistics.”

In terms of growth, UPS has seen the cold chain market rise steadily over the past five years with projections to grow by another 25% over the next few years, reaching US$21.3bn in 2024. 

“At UPS Healthcare, we are firmly monitoring this growth, ensuring we are adapting our planning and considering complexities, disruptions, costs and increased sustainability requirements.”

UPS Healthcare can support treatments from clinical trials right to the patient – something that no one else in the market can do right now.

“UPS Healthcare is rapidly growing its global footprint. The acquisition of Bomi Group, which has temperature-controlled facilities in 14 European and Latin American countries has more than doubled the footprint of our facilities since 2020,” said O’Brien. “The acquisition of Transports Chabas Santé further strengthens the network in Southern France helping to build a pan-European cold chain network enhancing UPS’s industry-leading capabilities, better connecting our customers to our global, tech-enabled network.”

This is set to continue; UPS will add about 200,000m2 in warehouse space in 2024, across Europe and the Americas, which will help the business offer customers access to faster shipping times and greater production flexibility. 

“As we expand, UPS remains committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050; we are building new dedicated Healthcare facilities to the highest sustainability standards. Our new facilities adhere to LEED standards – the most widely recognised green building rating system in the world and we are increasing automation across our network, resulting in increased energy efficiency.”

UPS also continues to invest in the next generation of products, which saw the recent launch and expansion of UPS Premier across Europe – a unique track, trace, and redirect technology-led service that prioritises and tracks critical shipments within 3 metres of their location anywhere in UPS’s global network. 

“UPS’s commitment to expansion and innovation promises our customers access to faster shipping times, greater production flexibility, and new offerings to help them attract new business,” said O’Brien.

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