Planning Around Disasters and Anticipating Challenges

February 25, 2021

How Sentry maintained business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Sentry Biopharma Services has a long history of experience in providing customized cold chain storage and distribution solutions across many temperature ranges as well as labeling, kitting, and packaging of clinical trial materials (CTM).

Its clients require effective custom solutions for cold storage and distribution to increasingly exotic locales in order to conduct trials in specialized populations.

Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the business environment for many organizations around the globe, and highlighted the importance of being able to react, adapt, and set up crisis management mechanisms in order to weather situations of uncertainty.

How COVID-19 Impacted Business

Storage facility durability and safety in the face of natural disasters as well as business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic are of great concern to Sentry’s clients.

“Initially, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a drastic decrease in availability of transport due to airline slowdowns, etc., and a resulting steep increase in transport costs,” said Alex T. Mitchell, Director of Operations for Sentry. “Fortunately, this has stabilized somewhat, and overall activity is increasing rapidly due, in part, to COVID-19 vaccine activities. Activities seem to be rebounding vigorously to the point that previous levels may soon be exceeded.”

Still, according to Mitchell it is not clear at this time what ongoing effects COVID-19 vaccine activities may have on the availability of cold chain storage space globally as well as cost and availability of transport. “Sentry is increasing its cold chain storage space and diversifying its transport options to be prepared for any such effects,” he said.

Challenges Beyond COVID-19

Primary challenges other than COVID-19 include prompt provision of customized cold chain solutions over an ever-increasing geographical range in a manner that ensures continuity and regulatory compliance. Sentry meets these challenges for its clients by provision of consulting assistance and extensive pre-planning for movements with backup provisions in case of failure of primary transport lanes.

According to Tim J. Mitchell, President / CEO, pharma development activities continue to be well-funded with dramatically increased development of biological products requiring cold storage.  These include those directed toward orphan indications, as well as increased manufacturing of such products in U.S. and EU-based facilities.

“In the near future, increased development of biologicals including personalized gene and cell therapies, as well as increased manufacturing of such products in the U.S. and EU will drive the need for additional cold storage temperature space with various new temperature options, particularly in the colder ranges,” predicted Mitchell.

To meet these challenges, Sentry has expanded its Controlled Room Temperature and customized Ultra Low Temperature freezer storage options with enhanced security. Additionally, Sentry has implemented a renovated -40°C walk-in freezer with a new monitoring and control system; added vapor phase liquid nitrogen units for master cell banks and has strengthened its in-house regulatory consulting expertise. Sentry is in the process of adding a new Warehouse Management System which will enable advanced serialized labeling and tracking and has a second 250 U.S. pallet -20°C chamber under construction. Sentry is currently completing and expects to open a second facility in the EU in Q4 of 2020.

As Sentry moves on from the COVID-19 crisis, it is prepared for whatever obstacles may be thrown at it next.