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Radical Advancement in Technology: How This Affects the Cold Chain

Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 11:44 AM | | Technology

I find myself standing in front of a group of medical physicians in training, fumbling with my meeting notes, feeling somewhat intimidated. I mean, these are the best and brightest of our society, who am I to give them a talk about...well...anything! And I had the nerve to title it: The Last 10 Days in the Rapid Development of Humanity. Who did I think I was?

I spend my free time scouring the net, devouring bleeding edge technological innovation. I’m basically a nerd. But I digress…what transpired during my lecture to the young physicians somewhat shocked me. I remember it like it was yesterday, “On March 13th, Google will start to launch applications to their developers for their Glass device. It is a wearable technology device.” I snuck a quick peek at the audience to gauge their reaction. Humans started to look up from their smart phones - always a good sign in this day and age.  Some of them even put their smart phones in their lab coat pockets. A big step. I decided to pose the following questions, “How will the utilization of google glass affect privacy and regulatory compliance in your industry? And furthermore, how will the wonton usage of this type of device potentially affect the data security, i.e. the electronic medical records of your patients?” 

These people, these thoroughbreds of the intellectual world, these that we all considered to be the best and brightest, who go to school practically forever - simply had no clue in this area. Feeling more confident, I pressed my advantage, “For those of you potentially specializing in gastroenterology, a rigid single-fiber micro-endoscope could enable a myriad of new procedures for microscopic imaging inside living organisms. These range from analyzing neuronal cellular biology in brain tissue to studying muscle physiology and disease to the early detection of various forms of cancer. It could be the future.” 

Now I had everyone’s attention.  We went on to discuss recent findings in biological tooth replacement, how nanoparticles loaded with bee venom kill HIV, and how green tea extract can potentially interfere with the formation of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease. These were all innovations that took place during one week in March of last year. The sheer magnitude of what we humans are accomplishing in this age, the technological/information age, is astounding. 

In the end, the presentation was well received and the participants wanted to know a little more about me. “What do you do exactly?” “I work with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to position their products around the world, ensuring that they are transported in the appropriate conditions,” I replied. My audience tested me, “Well then, how will radical advancement in technology shape your industry?”

I looked long and hard at them before giving my honest answer. “My particular nitch will be no more at some point,” I told them. The speed of our technological advancement will swallow it whole. “How so?” they asked. My response: Additive manufacturing or what you might commonly hear referred to as 3-D printing. When I first saw this type of technology, it had me at hello. I knew that it would dramatically affect the supply chain industry and that I should stay close to it. Coupled with drone technology, efficient rail systems connecting pharmaceutical hubs (we won’t be able to afford moving products by airplanes forever!) and additive printing, my industry could slowly go the way of the dinosaurs. We are in the midst of 3D-printer-style machines printing drugs instantly:

Drug Printer: print any drug instantly

Print Your Own Medicine

These are some of my favorite bleeding edge technology sites:

Take a look at the future. What do you think about technology advancement? How does your organization educate forward thinking? Share your tips with the community by leaving a comment below!


1. Hessman T. (2013, July 15). "The Impact of 3-D Printing on Supply Chains [INFOGRAPHIC]". Industryweek.


Gordon Johnson      

Gordon Johnson, Global Head of Optimisation

Thanks for reading! I am an admitted science and tech addict who is constantly studying emerging trends in these areas. Within LifeConEx/DHL, I contribute to the design of customized logistics solutions aimed at providing cost and process efficiencies for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Ask yourself the right questions! Design good work! Force the discovery! Easier said than done…You can connect with me on LinkedIn or shoot me an email if you have any questions or comments you’d like to chat about.

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