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News | Sept. 5, 2017

Susquehanna Cold Chain Packaging Team members earn awards for flu vaccine processing, ‘zero fail rate’ in CY16

By Brian Sipp DLA Distribution Public Affairs

Thirteen members of the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania Cold Chain Packaging Team were presented Superior Civilian Service Awards during a ceremony held Aug. 23, 2017, in Bldg. 89 at the DDSP Center.

Superior Civilian Service Award recipients include: Materials Handlers – Carl Black, Larry Cassatt, John Kanczuga, and Harold Mueller; Supply Technicians – Jason Marcocelli, Larry Rager, Kingsley Thomas, and Marsha Wood (Team Lead); Distro Facilities Specialists – Gary C. Reid and Bradley Schmick; General Supply Specialist – James Earp; Production Controller – Richard Markel; and Supervisor Distro Facilities Specialist – Bryan Ward. 

Each awardee was nominated for their efforts, work ethic, and exceeding in demonstrating the elements of Character, Ownership, Respect and Excellence (core DLA values) during the 2016 calendar year. Working with a slightly a smaller workforce than in previous years, each member needed to rely on fellow team members and multilevel coordination with other sections of the Bulk Operations Division in order to accomplish their incredibly vital mission.    

“The Cold Chain Team collectively has over 165 years of experience in all functions of consolidation, packing and shipping temperature-sensitive product shipments,” explained Michael Watt, DDSP Bulk Operations Division Chief.

This experience is considered by many to be vital to the success of the team, as cold chain packaging and shipping has significant challenges specific to temperature sensitive product shipments.

“Each shipping container requires explicit protocol compliance and adherence depending on the type of shipment and where the customer is located (within the continental United States, overseas, on ships, forward operating bases, and remote sites),” Watt added. 

The dynamic(s) of shipping perishable items (i.e. cold chain processing) makes proper coordination between carrier pickup and delivery, to include ensuring that each carrier’s unique rules and requirements are met, especially critical.

While these are tasks that the Susquehanna Cold Chain Packaging Team has made look routine, the proof of their efficiency and expertise can be measured in the hard numbers.

The most predominant yearly obligation for the Cold Chain team is the flu vaccine project that happens each year starting in the June period.  This project oversees the shipment of all vaccines around the world.  Garrison military personnel, Department of Defense-affiliated personnel, allied soldiers and U.S. Warfighters all benefit from these vaccines and the demand has increased each year. 

During 2014 and 2015, there was just below a five percent increase in vaccine shipments.  In 2015, the team processed 2,359 shipments, comprised of 3,816 separate shipping containers and volume levels of 2,723,240 doses of vaccine. 

In 2016, the team processed 2,745 shipments, equating to 4,588 separate shipping containers, with contents volume levels of 3,631,190 doses of Vaccine.  

This equates to almost a 20 percent increase in demand.

While the flu vaccine mission demonstrated the team’s flexibility in adjusting to a higher worldwide demand, they also processed other vaccines and temperature-sensitive items including: Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, Typhoid vaccine, Bromide Tablets, and Permeation Tubes.  

With countless trans-shipments of refrigerated material, both within and outside the continental United States, the team was forced to continuously adjust and prioritize their workload throughout the year to ensure a balance of demand with the safe transportation of all items.  This included adapting the shipment protocols for large overseas orders to integrate the use of the Envirotainer RKN-e1 container.  While new to the DLA, this specialty container has been a staple for the private healthcare industry and increases the viability of long haul and air shipments.

The Susquehanna Cold Chain Team also had to focus on cultivating internal and external relationships which allowed them to conduct systemic tracking for all shipments through the various carriers’ web sites, ensuring timely delivery while safeguarding the integrity of the cargo.

“This is a team approach, with all member within the Branch helping during the flu season as we annually ship over 3.5 million doses all over the world.  Their initiative, drive, motivation and diligence to succeed enable the team to meet ALL mission requirements and complete their mission while consistently delivering a zero fail rate every time,” added Watt.