Not so long ago I published a post about the challenges that products that need cold temperatures to be preservedface, and the different aspects that make the cold chain a very particular type of Supply Chain and probably the fiddliest in terms of transportand reliability (you can find the post here).
Continuing with this topic, this post is an approach to what probably is the most challenging type of delivery and hence the one that entitles most complications. Organ transplant.
Organs for transplant are one of the most critical shipments. To ensure viability of the organs, transportation and logistics must be flawless and perfectly coordinated, quality and speed are the key factors.
Organ transport requires an extraordinary level of 24/7 readiness over a wide geographic area. Some organs, such as a heart or lungs, can stay viable for only 4-6 hours, the cold ischemia time, (the maximal time that the organ outside the body can be kept in a storage solution), making their delivery to the operating room a true race with time.
The transplantation process starts in the hospital when a potential donor is notified. The organ is then prepared and stored before it can be transported.
Considering the limited time for transport and the fact that the smallest mistakewill probably hinder the success of the transplant, reliability in transport is a must in these cases.
Thinking of organ donation as an end-to-end Supply Chain we should also consider a few facts that make things even more complicated:
- You never know when your “product” will become available
- You have multiple products coming from the same “supplier”, which are going to different destinations, with a limited shelf life.
- You need to obtain the “product” from the “supplier” with specialists and each extraction requires a different approach. Furthermore, until the “product” is actually extracted, its viability is unknown.
- When it is known that a “product” is becoming available, there is a search to find who the customer is who is most in need. The customer could be a few (or a hundreds)kilometres away.
- As the customer is identified, there is a need to assemble specialists at the “customer’s” location for “installation” of the part.
- And during this entire time, the actual logistics for the transport will need to be put in place in a last minute scenario, with transportation “experts” accompanying the “product”
If you though your Supply Chain was challenging and stressful and your customers too demanding, I guess it’s time torecap!