Indian cold chain players gear up for COVID-19 vaccine challenges

India will likely face an elephantine logistics challenge regarding distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when the time comes, given its vast population and geographical size combined with other historical pain points.

Sensing such scalability and sensitivity factors, a handful of domestic niche cold chain solutions providers have already trained their sights on what could be a tough, but lucrative, market for them.

Leading that “vaccine midwifery” pack is Bangalore-headquartered Snowman Logistics, part of inland logistics leader Gateway Distriparks. Snowman runs 31 temperature-controlled warehousing facilities across 15 locations in the country, offering a combined capacity of 108,375 pallets, and has a fleet of about 300 refrigerated trucks.

Snowman CEO Sunil Nair told that, the company remains fully aligned with the dynamics of handling temperature-controlled vaccines and is concentrating on collaborating with other cold storage managers to explore the idea of a need-based pool model for deeper access through the interior.

“We are already managing vaccine distribution of influenza/swine flu and typhoid,” Nair said. “This experience of ours will come handy while managing COVID-19 vaccine storage and distribution.”

He noted with about 10,000 pallets and 200 trucks planned to be reserved, Snowman has the capability to handle 70 million vaccine doses at present and can significantly expand capacity over a short period to meet evolving domestic and global demands. “Our technology and process are the best in class and can be used for 24-7 tracking of temperature, whether the product is in our cold storage or in trucks on road,” Nair added.

Armed with 120 temperature-controlled vehicles operating in both primary and secondary routes, Gati Kausar is another notable cold chain player looking to target COVID-19 vaccine logistics activity.

“Gati Kausar has initiated a dialogue with the government and expressed its readiness to collaborate with industry peers and partners in the logistics domain to ensure the safe delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine within stipulated timelines and compliance parameters,” Bala Aghoramurthy, the company’s deputy managing director told.

He said the company intends to unveil a more robust operational strategy early next year, keeping a closer eye on the vaccine development. “Strong connectivity and improved linkages in the rural and urban areas of the country equip us with the competencies to ensure that risks associated with delays in vaccine deliveries are effectively managed and mitigated,” Aghoramurthy said.

Maersk inked vaccine logistics deal

Other Indian cold chain specialists reportedly betting on the COVID-19 vaccine logistics play include ColdEX, ColdStar, and JWL.

In addition, Maersk, close on the heels of inking a global logistics deal with US-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate COVAXX, seems poised to seize the new opportunity out of India, touting its strong expertise in integrated reefer transportation along with smartphone app “Captain Peter.”

“Vaccines, being sensitive cargo, require to be transported under defined atmospheric conditions such as specific temperate and humidity levels,” Maersk (India) told. “This [expertise] not only provides excellent visibility, but also instills a great deal of confidence in our customers’ mind while moving their cargo with us.”

Source: JoC