Need support?

Please leave a message


Total quality control for cold chain: A-SMART and 5Cs method Listen with ReadSpeaker

Total quality control for cold chain: A-SMART and 5Cs method

In an article on cold chain vaccine delivery, Matthias, D.M. (et al), state that in developing countries 22% of the healthcare cold chain products are prone to damage during storage.

Although Asia is developing, it is yet to be fully matured in various aspects, especially when it comes to cold chain management. To address the challenges many companies face in cold chain management, DKSH has developed a unique, research-based approach called the “Total Quality Management (TQM) for Cold Chain” program.

The TQM for Cold Chain program is made up of two unique building blocks: the A-SMART method and the 5Cs. 

In our cold room designs, we identify redundancy, meaning alternate cooling units operating, back-up evaporators, etc. We also look at possibilities to segregate areas supporting creation of backup options. This means for example that we consciously choose two times 45-square meter cold room over one-time 90-square meter cold room. By doing so you we create backup options. In the context of the risk we manage with/for our clients and customers, this is a good example of an investment we do across our Asian network.

Asset control is elementary. Besides scheduled independent third-party maintenance, where reports are cross-verified on a group level, we have a ‘preventive predictive maintenance’ (PPM) schedule in place. Part of this PPM program is scanning our equipment with thermal imagers. These pro-active measures help to timely identify possible upcoming issues. This is supported by having critical (sensitive) spare parts available, as well as executing unannounced test scenarios with our vendors throughout the year. Related analysis feeds into the A-SMART method for strategic decision making.

Stable electricity supply is not a given in many countries and can be a real challenge in some markets. We therefore have generators in place with an auto cut-over functionality and alarm notification. Given the criticality and sensitivity of the products, we keep at least 24 hours of fuel on site and have agreements with fuel vendors to supply in case of emergency. This supply is also tested frequently. Throughout the Asian region our customized sensor based IoT approach for alarms is working very well. We also operate with dual alarm systems comprising both 24/7 voice calls as well as SMSs and e-mail alerts. Our PIC’s (person in charge) are always on the watch for situations and are ready to react immediately.

Besides meeting industry requirements, another fundamental choice we made is to work with best-fit solutions. This relates also to environmental impact reduction. Where practical, we opt for reusable packaging for example. For cold chain transport we apply various advanced packaging solutions such as VIP (vacuum insulated panels) boxes, polypropylene boxes, polystyrene boxes, air-conditioned vans, air-conditioned trucks, etc.

The TQM for Cold Chain program connects operations on a local and regional level and allows us to be both rigid and flexible depending on the situation. Findings in operations move through the organization quickly and can be adopted in other markets. This flexibility allows also for creating localized solutions. At the same time, management and operations have a clear understanding of what is expected at any given time. This allows for skills development, consistency, transparency and task ownership.

TQM for Cold Chain is a good example of an effective operational excellence program with clear companywide engagement and collaboration around continuous improvement. We all take great pride in ensuring our clients high quality products reach patients in good condition


Tim Broekhuizen

About the author

Tim Broekhuizen is Regional Manager, Center of Excellence, Supply Chain Management at DKSH. Before this, he was Country Head of Supply Chain Myanmar. Born and educated in The Netherlands, Tim holds a Master’s degree in Operations and Supply Chain Excellence and a Bachelor's degree in Logistics. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience in upstream and downstream perishable supply chains in developed and emerging markets.

Read more here.