UPS Germany CEO on Vaccine Distribution Challenges and Developments

This episode of The Vaccine Challenge is hosted by Priyanka Asera and features Frank Sportolari, CEO of UPS Germany. Frank has 35 years of experience in the industry and is originally from Chicago.

2020 was all about the pandemic. 2021 is all about the COVID-19 vaccines.

With different pharma companies rolling out their respective vaccines consisting of various types of storage requirements, we talk to Frank about the developments in this space from a vaccine distribution perspective and how UPS is contributing to this mega task.

Topics touched upon:

Lay of the land from a distribution perspective for the COVID-19 vaccines and what UPS is doing:

  • Bottlenecks and issues are more around producing adequate amounts of the vaccines and in the last mile getting the inoculations actually done. The middle mile is not as challenging.
  • Different countries have different requirements. Some are using the military, some are asking to ship it to one supplier within the country for further distribution, some are asking to deliver directly to the healthcare site it’s going to be used at

New developments that have had to happen for successful distribution

  • The network and capacity to move the vaccines already exists from moving 30 million shipments a day
  • Producing a significant amount of dry ice and special packaging to maintain the cold chain and safe packaging of the vaccines

Biggest challenges around vaccines distribution

  • Capacity crunch from lack of passenger aircrafts, but plenty of old aircrafts being converted for additional capacity
  • Keeping UPS workforce and essential workers safe
  • BREXIT is an additional challenge at the border and free movement that was taken for granted

Things that will likely change permanently in the world of supply chain as a result of COVID:

  • Will prove to be an accelerator for existing trends - such as the move from B2B2C, multi channel, hybrid models
  • Boom in eCommerce has gone into overdrive as a result of COVID which is putting a pressure on global supply chains. This will continue to rise.
  • Nearshoring and moving suppliers closer is something that’s talked about, but changing global supply chains like that isn’t that easy to do. In fact, the change in this is more likely to happen from the changes in the auto industry from gas to electrical vehicles which would imply lesser parts and therefore lesser suppliers in general. This is more likely to impact global supply chains in the longer term than COVID is

They conclude the episode discussing how things will slowly return to normal and how long it will take.

About Frank

Frank Sportolari holds a BA degree in Economics from the University of Illinois, has done Management programs at Emory University in Atlanta and the London Business School. He joined UPS in Munich, Germany in 1986 and held various positions of increasing responsibility in Germany, Spain, Italy and Brussels.

In September 2011 he was appointed as President of UPS Germany (till date). In April 2018 he was elected President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, while also serving as vice-chairmen of the CDU Business Council International Commission and is on the board of several industries and charitable organizations.