Proprietary Tracking and Visibility Tools Ensure Secure Transportation

March 19, 2020


Pharma's Almanac Q1, 2020

To ensure the highest security and most efficient delivery of high-value pharmaceutical shipments, Boyle Transportation uses proprietary software solutions and web and mobile applications (apps) to continuously communicate with both its drivers and customers.

Visibility Solutions for Secure Shipments

Boyle Transportation is a specialized trucking firm that provides exceptional quality, safety, and security to select clients in life sciences and defense. We operate throughout the United States and Canada, and our Operations Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Customers today don’t just want to know where their shipments are; for high value items, they want to know that their product is being transported properly, and they want to be notified immediately of any exceptions. They’re also concerned about who has access to their shipment data. We have elected to develop propriety software systems and web and mobile apps to meet our customers’ requirements and to control what data is collected, how it is collected and stored, and who has access to it. Our professional drivers are issued company-owned android phones with pre-installed apps combined with multiple telematics systems in our trucks that are tied directly into our own back-end systems using military-grade encryption technology. The back-end systems are hosted on Amazon Web Services in a secure configuration that meets NIST standards.

The design of our systems allows us to keep sensitive data, such as the specific details about each shipment, in a closed loop within the company. Multiple tracking systems are in place to ensure availability and avoid a single point of failure that is so common in the industry.


Multiple Layers of Security

The best approach to ensuring the security of sensitive and valuable pharmaceutical shipments is to apply multiple layers of security. Pharmaceutical customers benefit from our experience hauling military cargo; similar protocols are used for both types of shipments, including dual-driver protective service. All of our employees undergo an extensive background investigation by the federal government, and our drivers receive extensive training and credentialing.

Boyle also provides customers visibility into their supply chains through the use of state-of-the-art tracking and real-time monitoring tools, including electronic shipment temperature history. Vehicles and personnel are monitored and geo-fenced 24/7 from our Operations Center, and this data can be viewed live through our customer app.


Assured Temperature Control

All Boyle temperature-controlled trailers are outfitted with operating sensors within the refrigeration unit and strategically located independent probes to provide a measure of redundancy, allowing constant monitoring of the temperature of each shipment en route. In the event of a temperature excursion, an alert is sent automatically to our 24/7 Operations Center. Staff members follow detailed instructions to engage equipment service providers and customer contacts.

All of Boyle temperature-controlled trailers undergo both calibration and thermal mapping processes at regularly scheduled intervals. Temperature probe and sensor accuracy is ensured by testing them with a reference instrument that has been calibrated to NIST standards.


Extensive Data Capture for Shipment Tracking and Visibility

All of the telematic and video systems installed on Boyle’s tractors and trailers allow us to track over a dozen different potential alert conditions depending on the specific requirements of the customer or a specific shipment.

Our proprietary back-end system collects, integrates, and analyzes all of this data and extracts information useful to our customers. Email notifications provide information on the driver and the specific trailer before shipment, updates as the shipment proceeds through the route, and confirmation of delivery. In the unlikely event of a delay, customers are contacted immediately to discuss possible actions that can be taken.

Boyle also establishes a chain of custody for each shipment. Shipping papers, bills of lading, and proof of delivery are available electronically. Recording of the temperature in the trailer begins once the doors are closed and the shipment is sealed. Tracking is provided throughout the route until the time the doors are opened at the delivery site. Vehicle data and driver credentials are also maintained in the system and accessible to customers.


Continuous Improvement of Customer Apps

Using our web app, Boyle customers can continually monitor the location of their shipment and the inside temperature of the freight compartment. They have access to the planned route with continually updated estimated arrival time, as well as all documents related to the shipment.

Importantly, we have significant flexibility in terms of how we provide this information electronically. We can link with customer ERP systems via electronic data interchange (EDI) or using more advanced application program interfaces ((APIs) for server-to-server communications using REST/JSON or SOAP/XML). We also have great relationships with complemetary third-party providers that place tracking systems into the freight itself, and we can integrate our data with theirs to provide context. In addition, the data package that is shared with each customer is tailored to their specific needs.

We are currently expanding the capability of the application, incorporating information on our standard operating procedures and the secure operating practices developed for each customer and working to provide more analytics for customers with whom Boyle has an ongoing relationship. The intent is to analyze historical performance on multiple shipments, as well as benchmarks for measures such as dwell times to identify areas in need of improvement, which will then be addressed jointly with the customer.


Placing a High Value on Communications

At Boyle Transportation, we place a high value on communication — within our company and with our customers. We have invested in advanced technologies to enable efficient and effective communication with our drivers and to provide our customers with the crucial information they need about their valuable cargo. There are many third-party systems that purport to provide life science companies with shipment visibility, but they are mostly limited to periodic location updates. We continually provide condition of the shipment (temperature readings), alert monitoring (late arrival, prolonged stops, trailer door open en route, trailer disconnect, out-of-route), and accurate estimated times of arrival based on assigned routes.

Going forward, we hope to see the industry realize even greater connectivity, so that more monitoring and control can be achieved. We are also looking forward to the wider application of technology to assist our pharmaceutical customers with serialization. The application of artificial intelligence and machine learning for the identification of anomalies and to optimize load patterns and configurations will also be beneficial.

Our focus at Boyle Transportation is to provide the most secure, efficient, and effective means for transporting high-value pharmaceutical products.