Skyports, Swoop Aero link with BD Rowa to automate drone logistics of pharmaceuticals

Skyports Swoop Aero drones

Drone delivery partners Skyports and Swoop Aero are extending their joint operations through an additional linkup with German pharmaceutical logistics specialist BD Rowa, with aims of integrating autonomous air transport in the supply chain of medication and healthcare supplies.

London-based Skyports and Australia’s Swoop Aero have worked together for months building common drone delivery services for goods internationally, as well as rapid transport of vaccines and medical supplies in response to crisis-level surges of COVID-19 in the UK. In broadening that latter activity to involve BD Rowa, the partners seek to offer automated technology and services for pharmaceutical and healthcare sector companies to at once increase speed and flow of distribution, enhance the value of goods and services involved, and cut operating costs compared to existing transport options.

“There are so many touch points along the journey pharmaceutical products take from the point of manufacture to the point of patient care,” says Swoop Aero CEO Eric Peck. “Deploying technology at any one of these provides opportunities to improve healthcare system outcomes. By seamlessly integrating sustainable air logistics to deliver medical supplies, we have already seen significant improvements to access to medicine through our operations.” 

In addition to its work with Skyports to provide faster drone delivery of vaccines and supplies in the UK during COVID-19 peaks – at times reaching remote destinations that would have taken ground transport days – Swoop Aero has been active in healthcare logistics in several African nations.

The company has been expanding its medical logistics and UAV transport services across the continent at a brisk clip, keeping pace with Zipline. In partnering with national and local African authorities seeking to broaden access to healthcare by flying medical supplies to areas often cut off from those, Peck says Swoop Aero has learned not only to overcome core challenges, but also keep watch for and respond to tangential ways the wider activity can be improved.

“Next level thinking is to look outside your immediate field of focus, at what other leading providers are doing in the supply chain, and explore opportunities where collaboration can create more value,” he says in explaining the new, three-way partnership. “BD Rowa has a strong pedigree in developing automated storing and dispensing solutions for wholesalers, pharmacies, hospitals and patients. We are looking forward to working with them to augment the value they bring to health systems by integrating autonomous air logistics.”

Their plan is to integrate automated technology solutions as a means of improving the healthcare sector’s supply chain, with pharmaceuticals a primary focus. They’ll also look to coordinate specialist providers to find ways of rendering the broader supply chain they all rely on more efficient, and unleash an ongoing process of transformative change.

“We already know the power that drone logistics can bring to healthcare settings from our work… in the UK, transporting pathology samples and COVID-19 tests,” says Skyports director of drone services Alex Brown. “With this partnership with BD Rowa, we’re bringing drone delivery to the pharmaceutical sector to provide speed, frequency and reliability to patients located in hard-to-reach communities across the UK, Europe and the Middle East.”

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