UPS is ready for seasonal deliveries including vaccines

UPS Airlines will be a major transporter of the newly approved vaccine by Pfizer, especially from Portage, MI (south of Kalamazoo) in the eastern United States.

UPS issued this report on holiday shipments including the vaccines:

Atlanta, GA

Network running smoothly, with industry-leading on-time delivery performance

UPS continues to deliver on customer expectations and the company’s network is running smoothly through the first two weeks of December.

“UPS is running one of the most successful peak holiday shipping seasons ever,” said UPS CEO Carol Tomé. “With great discipline and precision, we are delivering industry-leading on-time delivery performance – all part of our focus on ensuring we maintain a reliable delivery network that all of our customers can depend on. A huge thank you goes to each of our UPS frontline heroes, who are the heartbeat of our company. Because of them, we also stand ready to begin delivering vaccines as soon as they are available for distribution.”

On-Time Delivery Performance

UPS does not publicly report its own on-time delivery information. The most recently available information from ShipMatrix has shown UPS leading the industry:

  • For Oct 1 thru 31:  FedEx at 96%, UPS at 97.9% and USPS at 95.8%
  • For Nov 1 thru 14: FedEx at 96.5%, UPS at 97.3% and USPS at 96.6%
  • For Nov 15 to 21: FedEx at 96.6%, UPS at 96.9%, and USPS at 95.4%
  • For Nov 22 to Dec 5: FedEx was at 94.9%, UPS at 96.3 percent, and USPS at 92.8%.

UPS Planning, Preparation and Investments Have Made All the Difference

The company’s ability to control and manage peak surges in volume is a direct result of the following:

Collaboration:  UPS works closely with our customers to align volume with capacity during the holidays and throughout the year; this collaboration has been particularly strong this year.

CapacityUPS has invested in its physical network as well as in our people – those efforts have allowed the company to fine-tune capacity and delivery, and align it with our customers’ needs.

o   Hired approximately 100,000 seasonal employees

o   Hired 39,000 permanent, new employees between April and June.

o   Built 20 new facilities and brought on 14 additional aircraft for the peak season (in addition to the approximately 500 owned and leased aircraft in the company’s global fleet).

o   Expanded our weekend operations; only carrier to provide both commercial and residential pickup and delivery on Saturdays.

o   Significantly improved the speed of our ground delivery network – UPS is now at parity or faster than FedEx in 22 of the 25 most populated areas of the U.S.

ControlWe are closely managing the package volume that we take into our network, not only through close and continuous collaboration with our customers, but also by making use of advanced technologies and tools:

o   Our technology tools control package flow on critical days when volume is high, and provide visibility into specific delivery windows when there is more available capacity.

Preparing to Deliver Vaccines

UPS is proud to be a key player in the global public-private partnerships preparing to distribute vaccines to the world. We have significant knowledge and extensive expertise to meet the needs and demands of our customers for testing kit and vaccine distribution. Together with other critical players in these supply chains, we are ready to deliver what matters most. UPS is preparing highly orchestrated logistics and distribution services to support global lifesaving operations.

Why UPS Healthcare is Uniquely Ready

UPS is uniquely equipped to deliver sterile and temperature sensitive healthcare products. For more than 15 years, and under our newly organized UPS Healthcare division, UPS has been methodically building its expertise and capabilities in this highly specialized area of logistics.

Years ago, UPS recognized the need for these complex services. We made it our mission to bring the size and scale of our operations, combined with more than 113 years of experience, to the table in ways that few others can. This is a moment like no other, and it demands the expertise that UPS has developed in Healthcare Logistics. We have significant experience with distributing other vaccines, an unparalleled GMP facility footprint, clinical trials expertise through the company’s Marken subsidiary, a sophisticated real-time package tracking capability called UPS Premier, dedicated freezer farms and cold chain experience, an intricate Quality System, and growing experience in home healthcare and Direct to Patient (DTP) logistics solutions. UPS will deliver.

Pfizer issued this factsheet:

  • Pfizer is working closely with the U.S. government, including state officials, on vaccine distribution, and we are very grateful for their partnership.
  • Pfizer is a proven, reliable multinational vaccine producer, supplying vaccines to more than
    165 countries. Pfizer manufactures more than 200 million doses of Pfizer vaccines annually and is one of the largest sterile injectables suppliers in the world, producing more than 1 billion sterile units per year.
  • Our track record gives us confidence in our ability to quickly scale, manufacture and distribute large quantities of a high-quality COVID-19 vaccine, leveraging multiple sites in the United States and Europe. We have experience working with customers with different infrastructures in all markets.
  • During the initial stage, our contracts are with governments, and we will be providing doses according to their preferred channel and designated vaccination locations, subject to regulatory authorization or approval. We seek to work with governments to support distribution to their defined priority groups, and we anticipate that points of vaccination will vary but may include hospitals, outpatient clinics, community vaccination locations and pharmacies.
  • We have developed detailed logistical plans and tools to support effective vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring. Our distribution is built on a flexible, just-in-time system, which will ship the frozen vials direct to the point of vaccination.
  • In the U.S., our distribution approach will be to largely ship from our Kalamazoo, Michigan, site direct to the point of use (POU). We also will use our existing distribution center in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
  • We will be utilizing road and air modes of transportation in the United States, where we expect to be able to get product to any POU within a day or two.
  • We also have developed packaging and storage innovations to be fit for purpose for the range of locations where we believe vaccinations will take place. We have specially designed, temperature-controlled thermal shippers utilizing dry ice to maintain recommended storage temperature conditions of -70°C±10°C for up to 10 days unopened. The intent is to utilize Pfizer-strategic transportation partners to ship by air to major hubs within a country/region and by ground transport to dosing locations.
  • We will utilize GPS-enabled thermal sensors with a control tower that will track the location and temperature of each vaccine shipment across their pre-set routes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These GPS-enabled devices will allow Pfizer to proactively prevent unwanted deviations and act before they happen.
  • Once a POU receives a thermal shipper with our vaccine, they have three options for storage:
    • – Ultra-low-temperature freezers, which are commercially available and can extend shelf life for up to six months.
    • – The Pfizer thermal shippers, in which doses will arrive, that can be used as temporary storage units by refilling with dry ice every five days for up to 30 days of storage.
    • – Refrigeration units that are commonly available in hospitals. The vaccine can be stored for five days at refrigerated 2-8°C conditions.
  • After storage for up to 30 days in the Pfizer thermal shipper, vaccination centers can transfer the vials to 2-8°C storage conditions for an additional five days, for a total of up to 35 days. Once thawed and stored under 2-8°C conditions, the vials cannot be re-frozen or stored under frozen conditions.
  • The various storage options at the POU allow for equitable access to the Pfizer vaccine to areas with differing infrastructure.

Meanwhile the FAA provided guidance to airport and airlines on safety steps that must be taken for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided planning considerations to assist the nation’s airports to facilitate the safe and efficient transportation of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Airport operators have a unique role in the transport of vaccines to the American public,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “Each airport is different, and we are here to support them and make sure they have the information they need as vaccines move through our nation’s transportation network.”

Airports should consider the following aspects of their operating environment to ensure they are fully prepared for aircraft carrying COVID-19 vaccines. This includes both those airports identified for shipments that will transition at airports as well as those that that may serve as alternate/divert airports, even if they will not be a primary destination for aircraft carrying COVID-19 vaccines.

Considerations include (PDF):

  • Aircraft rescue and firefighting coverage. Part 139 certificated airports will generally have adequate personnel and equipment for aircraft transporting COVID-19 vaccines.  However, some aircraft used for vaccine shipment may be larger than the aircraft used for passenger-carrying flights that typically serve that airport. Therefore, an airport operator may opt to have extra aircraft rescue and firefighting coverage available.
  • Adequate snow removal equipment and procedures. The airport operator may consider having additional equipment and personnel available to assist with timely snow removal operations, to clear runway(s)/taxiway(s) for aircraft transporting vaccines.
  • Adequate aircraft parking areas. Airport operators may want to coordinate with other users so that appropriate parking locations to support the type(s) and numbers of aircraft involved are available for vaccine transport aircraft when needed.
  • Coordination with local air traffic control facilities. Airport operators should work with their local air traffic control facilities before and during any vaccine transport flight’s movement on the airfield.
  • Priority access to the airfield for freight vehicles.  Airport operators may consider landside vehicle control and a possible staging area for freight vehicles awaiting their cargo to quickly and safely move shipments of COVID-19 vaccines off-airport.
  • Engagement of federal security and local law enforcement.  Airport operators should consider advance coordination with the Transportation Security AdministrationU.S. Customs and Border Protection, and/or local law enforcement, as necessary for security needs, minimizing customs clearance delays and inspections, and vehicle traffic control.

UPS Airlines aircraft photo gallery:

UPS Airlines aircraft slide show: