Packaging plays a vital role for most organizations but specifically, in the pharmaceutical market, bound by strict regulatory demands to manage temperature, packaging is critical, and the ongoing pandemic has further increased the market’s specific logistics needs. Shipping temperature-critical pharmaceutical goods requires packaging that is robust, thermally efficient and that records an audit trail showing conformity with the regulated temperature requirements.
With investment from one of the world’s most respected investment banks, Investec, TOWER has harnessed innovative product design to great leadership to effectively address the expansion of the pharma logistics market.
There are various manufacturers delivering excellent container solutions for the pharmaceutical industry globally, but TOWER stands out. TOWER supplies over 30 of the world’s top pharma and third-party logistics (3PL) companies with market-leading temperature-controlled shipping containers. The range of solutions (double & single pallet, and sub pallet) are configured to provide 120+ hours of product protection at temperatures from <-60°C, -20°C, +5°C, to +25°C. Easy rental options and innovative models provide the pharmaceutical, 3PL, and life science industries with total flexibility and reliability within their cold chain. TOWER operates across a global infrastructure with full-service centres in the US, UK & Europe, Asia-Pacific, South Africa and, shortly, India.
In conversation with Niall Balfour, CEO of TOWER Cold Chain Solutions
Q. Developing containers to transport pharmaceutical products needs support of high-level talent and dedication. How did you manage to form your dream team?
Harnessing the expertise of those who have lived and breathed TOWER to broader industry experience to freshen leadership, providing the energy and insights to take TOWER to a new level.
Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful CEO?
- Strategic Direction
- Energetic Multi-tasker to maintain the pace of a fast-growing SME
Q. Tell us about the benefits of Bluetooth datalogger.
The InTemp CX series of data loggers are designed specifically to monitor vaccines and pharmaceuticals in storage and transportation environments within a wide range of temperatures. The logger uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to communicate wirelessly with the InTemp CX5000 Gateway and/or the free InTemp mobile app and send data to the free InTempConnect cloud platform. Specifically, the CX405-RTD has a built-in 1.5 m external probe that can measure temperatures as low as -95°C (-139°F) and up to 50°C (122°F) with a high degree of accuracy.
Q. What are your key differentiators as a supplier within the cold chain sector?
- Robustness: All TOWER containers are built to last and maintain integrity, which means they can take a tumble without risk or damage to their vital pharmaceutical payload
- Reliability: In our last 15,000 shipments we have had less than 0.1% temperature excursions. Fewer still if you don’t count human error
- Reusability: All our containers, and the phase-change materials that power them, can be reconditioned time and time again, supporting TOWER’s goal of sustainability operating within athesiliconreview-30-fastest-growing-private-companies-tower-cold-chain-solutions-cover-21 circular economy
- Flexibility: Our flagship KT400 and KTM42 can both be pre-configured to <-60°C, -20°C, +5°C and +25°C giving our logistics partners complete flexibility for their clients and their payloads
- Innovation: TOWER has consistently been first to market and continue to define new enhancements for their products without impacting the core functionality
Q. What are the important factors that you address while designing and developing a new container?
- Listen to your customer
- Retain the company ethos of reliability /reusability /robustness
- Must differentiate in market space, we’re not about “me2”
- Future proof market requirements by staying one step ahead of the markets needs
Q. What market conditions have enabled TOWER’s growth and why do you feel the time is right to capitalize on them?
In the last year, Investec’s Private Capital team has provided TOWER with significant new investment to accelerate the fleet expansion plan, allowing TOWER to grow its capacity, size, and scale to become an important partner in the cold chain pharma logistics sector. Where previously it lacked a fleet of sufficient size to meet demand from the larger global Pharma and Logistics players, now TOWER does. Not only does the fleet continue to grow bigger by the day, but TOWER is also innovating new designs and solutions to meet new types of client demands. The adaptive state of the cold-chain market due to Covid-19 and the need for global vaccination programs have meant that not only are more logistics companies showing interest in the pharma sector but also that the requirement for reusable, robust, and reliable containers is greater than ever.
Q. Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your employees?
- Constant and open communication
- Open door/flat hierarchy
- Cascade of information from board down, but as important a cascade from the team to board
Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?
Securing the funding and collaboration with Investec in 2020
Q. How do you market your services?
Word of mouth is, and always has been, the biggest driver of new clients and market growth. TOWER’s team is highly experienced with many years B2B direct market insight which also expedites the route to market. Through social media, webinars, focused content marketing and global marketing activity we are establishing TOWER as thought leaders and innovators within the pharma supply chain sector.
Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?
- New CX405 data logger
- New products including Ultra-cold pallet shippers
- Strategically located new global service centres
- A new ERP system to launch this year will offer clients real-time interaction, access and order monitoring
Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?
It’s an exciting time for TOWER; not only has the new investment increased our container inventory, but we have plans to expand the global team and expand on our already extensive global footprint, I hope this aligns well with market demand now and in the future. Its an understatement to say that 2020 has been a challenge for the world, and these challenges have continued into 2021; I don’t believe anyone could have predicted one year on and we’re only just starting to come out of lockdown, certainly in the UK. Our way of working has almost certainly changed, time will tell if for the better or worse, but I do look forward to f2f meetings and the opportunity to meet with current and new clients in the near future. Directly related to Covid-19 is the remarkable speed the pharmaceutical sector, and its supply chain partners have delivered vaccines safely and in high volume, but the hard work is only starting. We must ensure the distribution reaches across the globe and in a timely fashion. I recognize that TOWER offers niche products, but we fully intend to grow and diversify our product mix. But fundamentally, we work to offer the market robust, reliable, reusable products that match our vision of sustainability. We plan to launch our new ERP this year which will offer our clients a real-time order journey, but we’re equally excited working with our innovation team to develop our digital footprint optimizing data usage to further support our clients.
Meet the leader behind the success of TOWER Cold Chain Solutions
After over 30 years working within the pharmaceutical R&D, clinical and logistics space Niall Balfour joined TOWER as Sales Director before his promotion to MD. In 2020 he was further promoted to CEO of the company. Niall is a highly experienced CEO operating in the life science logistics & pharmaceutical supply markets, including central laboratories and incorporating vendor partnerships. Experienced and skilled at working with a global focus he has excellent leadership skills, gained through successfully creating, building and mentoring international teams on several occasions. His proven ability to discern customer needs and consistently deliver on schedule and above expectations whilst displaying integrity and initiative, with a demonstrated ability to work enthusiastically under pressure both in a team and individually. Excellent communicator, adept at productively dealing with people internally and externally at all levels and practiced at remaining calm in pressured situations he is motivated by a pursuit of excellence.