Using best practices, and custom solutions to deliver COVID-19 diagnostics to Uganda

by | Sep 6, 2021

In May, The Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM) and one of its 3PL partners delivered a large consignment of temperature controlled COVID-19 diagnostics to a principal recipient (PR) in Uganda.

The shipment was another opportunity for PFSCM to showcase its 4PL model and proactive approach to logistics management through activities such as consolidating purchase orders, sending shipments in large batches, and consolidating and repacking cargo to meet client requirements.


Tendering as a best practice

PFSCM put the shipment of more than 165 m3 out to tender to drive competition among 3PLs ensuring the company receives the best-value offer from the most suitable freighter based on their experience and performance.

One of PFSCM’s newest 3PL partners, end-to-end logistics specialist GEODIS, won the bid based on their best-value offering, niche experience and performance track record.

PFSCM found GEODIS’s global presence, deep experience in humanitarian logistics, and proactive attitude to develop solutions that overcome bottlenecks in a challenging market environment, compelling.


GEODIS and Spedag Interfreight managed the re-palletization process, and exceeded expectations by achieving cost savings through the process. Photo: Courtesy of GEODIS


Re-palletization: saving costs, meeting client’s needs

To reduce freight costs, the shipment was air freighted using standard pallets, and then later re-palletized into smaller batches.

The 108-pallets were sent in batches from the Maastricht Aachen Airport in the Netherlands to Entebbe International Airport in Kampala, Uganda via Istanbul.

Once in Uganda, the cargo was consolidated and repacked from standard to euro pallets to meet the receiving requirements of the National Medical Stores (NMS).

GEODIS and its in-county agent Spedag Interfreight demonstrated their flexibility and willingness to go the extra mile by managing the whole re-palletization process, thereby delivering a net saving of several thousands of dollars, which can be reused by health programs.

At a time when the freight market is dominated by a capacity crunch and rising freight costs, any innovative method that helps achieve cost savings is most welcome. PFSCM does, however, assess whether the savings are worth the extra level of effort.

Further, the companies also planned diligently around the mid-May public holidays in Uganda; and were able to store the goods safely and compliantly in the Spedag warehouse, which boasts excellent security features, and proper ventilation, until the PR was ready to take receipt.

On completion of the repackaging, the number of pallets increased to 154. The final pallets were delivered to the NMS by truck on May 17.

PFSCM extends its warmest regards to GEODIS and Spedag Interfreight for capturing the moments in photos, and for their dedication in delivering this shipment.


Repacking from standard pallets to euro pallets taking place at the Spedag warehouse in Uganda. Photo: Courtesy of GEODIS


Uganda in a nutshell

COVID-19 diagnostics will continue to play a critical role in developing countries, where the uptake of vaccines have been slower than in the rest of the world.

Uganda is one of PFSCM’s top countries for the procurement and delivery of health products including COVID-19 diagnostics. Uganda was the first country to which PFSCM shipped COVID-19 diagnostics, and since May 2020 PFSCM has delivered more than $5.8 million worth of six different COVID-19 diagnostics products in more than 10 shipments to Uganda, while maintaining an OTIF of 90%.

Meanwhile, in May 2021 the Government of Uganda waived the National Drug Authority verification fees for diagnostics and PPE supplied through one of the COVID-19 response mechanisms. PFSCM is very grateful for the country’s effort to fast track the seamless importation of COVID-19 related products. This change goes a long way in improving the speed of clearance and reducing the number of processes involved.

In total, 154 pallets were delivered to the National Medical Stores in mid-May. Photo: Courtesy of GEODIS