Healthcare industry fleets have had to meet the demands of a world in the midst of a pandemic and utilize as many safety-focused operational methods as possible during this new reality.
McKesson Medical-Surgical vice president of transportation, Mark Rigdon, said that his company had to find a way to make faster and more efficient decisions in order to help everyone calling on them.
“There were many complex areas we had to work through,” he explained. “I think our teams were very effective at identifying problems, developing alternatives, making the decisions they could, and escalating other alternatives to senior leadership.”
McKesson put in place new protocols to protect its delivery drivers who joined other truckers working on the pandemic’s front lines. The safety procedures included implementing mandatory mask wearing, regular temperature checks, vehicle and equipment sanitization, and maintaining a 10-feet distance between drivers and others at all times.
McKesson also prefers that its more than 1,000 delivery workers use curbside delivery options when possible.
Cintas Corp. has been stepping up the plate too, and has been working hard to get N95 respirators and hand sanitizer where needed throughout the current health crisis.
“Our supply chain has worked feverishly to satisfy this demand,” said Cintas CEO, Scott Farmer. “I’m proud of their ability to adapt and persevere in the midst of unprecedented adversity.”
Cintas has also been delivering pandemic staples such as scrubs, towels, sanitizer sprays, disinfectants, and personal protective equipment–including face masks and face shields–to its healthcare customers as efficiently as possible.
“Our employee partners have been consistent and diligent in their care of our customers, providing essential products and services to healthcare facilities, pharmaceutical companies, grocery store chains, food processing plants, and many others,” Farmer explained.
Private fleets have the ability to make sure quality service levels can be provided to customers when the industry sees major spikes in demand, according to SJ Consulting Group founder, Satish Jindel. This is especially true when healthcare companies make use of contract carriers, and in times like these, the partnership stays strong.
“It is almost like a private fleet committed to you, but they operate the truck and provide the driver,” said Jindel.
In regards to a dedicated contract carrier model, various distribution companies have been utilizing the concept due to the continuity it can bring to employees, said Kenco Logistics vice president of operations, Michelle Kunde.
“We developed a corporate response team that worked with customers to ensure it adhered to all of the various regulations,” she said. Kenco brings a dedicated service to an array of customers throughout the healthcare sector, and has adapted its resources to the needs of that industry during this time.
Speaking of which, the COVID era has in fact increased the need for transportation companies to boost responses to industry changes, according to Ryder Supply Chain Solutions senior vice president of dedicated transportation solutions, Steve Martin.
“Now, you just have to be ready for it to be part of your day, every day,” he explained.
Ryder brings contract carriage service to healthcare customers, such as those requiring medical equipment and in-home respiratory services. The need for oxygen therapy hit a spike this year, so drivers had to be able to deliver the equipment when needed and also be able pick it back up to be cleaned and redistributed.
“We had to make sure the drivers had the oxygen equipment as a priority as a return shipment,” said Martin.
For Greenwich, Connecticut-based XPO Logistics, shipments to hospital networks rose by up to 40% as compared to typical numbers.
“The shipments were critical medical supplies, including masks, gloves, gowns, IV components, trays, and surgical kits,” said XPO North American transportation group president, Drew Wilkerson.
As trucking companies work to keep their drivers safe, they know the priority is getting PPE and other medical resources to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies quickly and efficiently, and to ensure all patients can receive their medications as expected during this time of astronomical demand.
Unitrans International Corp. president, Andrew Schadegg put it best: “That supply chain needs to remain intact.”