Supporting a Global Healthcare Supply Chain

UPS is expanding its global healthcare distribution network in five locations in North America: Burlington, Ontario, Canada; Louisville, KY; Mira Loma, CA; Atlanta, GA; and Reno, NV. The expansions add nearly 800,000 sq ft to UPS’s global network of 37 dedicated healthcare facilities, which now add up to nearly six million sq. ft. of distribution space. The growth represents UPS’s continuing mission to support a global healthcare supply chain. UPS previously expanded its healthcare distribution network in the Asia-Pacific region in October 2012, opening three new facilities in Hangzhou, China; Shanghai, China; and Sydney, Australia.

“UPS is investing heavily so that healthcare companies have the ability to access a broader, global network of compliant supply-chain facilities,” said Bill Hook, vice president, global strategy, UPS Healthcare Logistics. “We are seeing companies move in a broader way, even globally, so we are able to develop much deeper partnerships with them. We are building a strategically located network to provide broad coverage.”

UPS’s 37 dedicated healthcare facilities hold all applicable government accreditations and licenses and maintain geographic-specific regulatory requirements for handling pharmaceutical and regulated medical devices, such as those of FDA, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Health Canada, and hundreds of others, explains Hook. For instance, “UPS is licensed in all 50 U.S. states, so we can ship to many states out of one facility. Our licensing offers business continuity support throughout the United States,” he says. In total, “UPS holds more than 900 licenses and/or certifications worldwide. We have a team of compliance-focused professionals for handling more-specialized products.”

The global UPS healthcare network can support a full range of temperature-handling and storage requirements, from deep freeze through ambient conditions. The five recently expanded facilities also provide Internet-based inventory management, which can also accommodate specialty products for direct-to-dispense or direct-to-patient fulfillment. “We offer visibility across multiple facilities with one IT platform used globally,” says Hook. “It provides one standard approach for compliance, service, and information transmission.

“One platform resonates with clients,” adds Hook. “In our Pain in the Supply Chain survey, respondents revealed they seek product integrity, compliance, and security along with speed in a network.”

With the healthcare facility network already at 80% utilization, UPS is already in the planning stages for further expansion. “It takes time to open healthcare facilities, in terms of licensing and establishing the ability to handle temperature-controlled products,” says Hook.

As UPS has increased its physical network, it has been able to hold deeper discussions with clients, says Hook. “We have been able to increase our expertise in optimizing packaging to maintain temperatures and reduce costs. We are holding quarterly business reviews with our customers to review key performance indicators and review opportunities for continuity and packaging optimization. Customers often overpackage, and they could make adjustments on specific lanes.”

Because UPS tracks inventory down to quantity and lot number, it is able to leverage its network to demonstrate where products have gone, says Hook. It is also able to identify potential cost savings. “We are working to leverage our integrated network to eliminate product loss because of excursions or security issues and better utilize inventory,” says Hook. “We can take cost out because we do not have to hand product off to other companies. We can manage the process from end to end.”

For instance, “we can pick up product from Europe in Cologne, Germany, and preclear it so that when it arrives in Kentucky we can place it in our coolers and have it ready for doctors’ orders,” says Hook. “With this network in place we are able to fulfill product orders from Europe within 48 hours.”

Hook says that UPS’s expanding network truly serves patients. “We always say, ‘It’s a patient, not a package.’ It’s more than a slogan for us—it’s a culture. We are helping someone at the end of the supply chain.”

For more information on UPS’s healthcare services, visit


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