When a new cargo handling facility opens at an airport, there is inevitably a period of overcapacity until volumes, hopefully, grow and begin to catch up with the new capacity available. But adding a new facility that alone has a capacity of 2.6 million tonnes – more capacity than most airports have in total – would seem to be an extraordinary challenge. However, Hong Kong is not most airports, and with the local government recently giving the go-ahead for a third runway, the world’s busiest international cargo airport and its home carrier Cathay Pacific could now be seen as preparing sensibly for the future. Even if those preparations cost Cathay HK$5.9 billion.
Growth in demand from the pharmaceutical sector has been one of the defining trends within the air cargo business in recent years, going some way towards compensating for declines in other commodity types that had previously been shipped by air.
But with modal competitors to air working hard to win this business and with increasing amounts of regulation from global authorities, the industry is under pressure to do more to meet the ever-more rigorous customer demands regarding the integrity of their pharma goods. And if these expectations are not met, air cargo risks losing the opportunity presented by the huge pharmaceutical logistics market, which IATA estimates is worth a staggering US$60 billion a year.
However, transporting such time- and temperature-sensitive cargo requires a complex supply chain that is reliable and that can be monitored in real-time throughout. IATA CEO Tony Tyler describes it as “a twin-track challenge. In addition to their usual expectations for reliability and speed, customers need adequate facilities and handling procedures that guarantee a constant temperature range, and the absolute integrity of the package.”
Key to maintaining the integrity of delicate pharma cargo throughout its movement along the entire supply chain are the efforts of carriers to ensure the consignment remains at a steady temperature during its care. Numerous airlines now offer their own specialised pharma transport service, which each boast their own capabilities to maintain the necessary environmental conditions.
These include active and passive cooling or temperature-control techniques, ranging from specialised active containers with full environmental monitoring to insulated boxes and insulated pallet covers, while some aircraft – particularly newer types such as the B787 and B747-8F – offer temperature selection in their cargo compartments to varying degrees. And on the subject of varying degrees, the temperature bands offered by the various airline pharma and cool-chain services and products also differ, although there is some alignment among those that have developed their products in cooperation and consultation with their customers.
Fit for purpose?
But do these airline pharma and cool-chain products provide the service that the industry needs? Some within the air cargo sector observe that there may be a wealth of airline temperature-controlled ‘solutions’, but only a little more than a handful are genuinely worthy of the title and can honestly guarantee the integrity of a pharma shipment throughout its time with the carrier. Phil Abbate, global vice president for pharmaceutical & healthcare at US forwarder and logistics group UTi, estimates the number at only around half a dozen.
“There are still numerous temperature incursions involved with many pharma shipments,” he points out. But he adds that there is a built-in paradox here: To ensure there are no temperature deviations, carriers must invest heavily, but he suggests that pharmaceutical companies are now afraid to charge the sort of high prices for many types of pharma product that might be expected; thus there are not the margins available for the carriers to pass on their own potentially high costs.
This isn’t the case for all pharma types, of course. Vaccines and the biotechnologies generally move under tightly controlled cool-chain conditions because of the premium prices charged throughout the supply chain. But many pharma shipments that perhaps should be moved under controlled 15-25 degree conditions are now being transported as little better than general cargo, Abbate observes.
And even the handful of airlines that can offer a reliable pharma shipping service, still have to be “managed” on a lane-by-lane basis. “Collaboration is the key in order to mitigate the risks,” Abbate adds.
While the variation between the various products makes direct and sweeping comparisons difficult and complex, some of the forwarders that CAAS has spoken with for this article highlight carriers including Lufthansa Cargo, British Airways, Air France-KLM and United as among those that they regard as offering a particularly trustworthy pharma shipment product.
David Mallinson, air product manager at Kerry Logistics, comments: “Generally speaking, carriers either proficiently engage in the carriage of pharmaceuticals, or they don’t. The carriers that are aligned correctly generally offer a service from the point of cargo acceptance and can offer a service and an audit trail right the way through the process to arrival and collection of the goods at the point of destination.”
Market leader carriers in this space, he notes, have fully trained and experienced staff in all locations and have invested heavily in cool-chain technology. But, Mallinson warns, some other carriers have a limited offering in real terms, while nevertheless still trying to convince clients that their product is fully functional. “Where these carriers let themselves down is by coming into the market without correctly trained staff, without any practical knowledge or partners at destination who are capable of offering the service, which is every bit as critical at origin as it is at destination,” he remarks.
Naomi Attali-Landman, director commercial development for logistics services provider IJS Global, comments: “There is no doubt that over recent years the number of airlines that offer a pharma service has increased considerably. Investments have been made in equipment, procedures, quality systems and certification programmes. The challenge, however, remains in offering a fully temperature-controlled solution, including the time on tarmac and within the airline warehouses at both origin and destination.”
So, what exactly do customers require from such a service? Attali-Landman says shipping healthcare or pharmaceutical products is unlike moving general cargo. “It requires a different mindset: it’s not about the pallet, it’s about the patient,” she says.
While maintaining the temperature integrity of the product is obviously one of the key elements, forwarders say there are many others considerations to be borne in mind if air freight pharma shipping is to justify a premium rate – for example, that it must be secure. The goods may be insured but that doesn’t compensate for the problems that theft, loss, or damage to pharma goods is going to mean for the end customer, nor the risks potentially that drugs can end up in the wrong hands, become ineffective, or dangerous, forwarders say, with some of the responsibility here lying with the carriers, and some elsewhere.
Airlines certainly can’t do it all themselves, even with the best possible temperature-controlled services in their armoury. As well as working closely with ground handlers and airport authorities, co-operation with their customers is vital, forwarders say. For example, forwarders suggest that when things do go wrong and a pharma shipment is compromised, the carrier frequently argues that the agent provided insufficient or wrong information about the consignment, or about the requirements to ensure its integrity on its journey through the supply chain. The shipper’s role here can also be fundamental, and bringing the shipper and the carrier together to discuss a given pharma shipment’s requirements can often be a useful step, one forwarder suggests.
Attali-Landman argues that forwarders and handlers both play a vital role in looking after pharma air cargo’s integrity on the ground. Typically, it is their on-airport facilities that will be required to keep the shipment at a constant temperature before or after the flight. Hence, the need for state-of-the-art facilities like the one opened at the end of last year by IJS at Frankfurt airport, where a significant amount of the business within the facility is specialist pharma and time-critical traffic, she says.
For many logistics service providers, their pharma offering relies on network reach and their efficiency in moving temperature-sensitive cargo through the air freight supply chain. Agility, for instance, has developed internal accountability and expertise in three interlocking areas of responsibility: operational, commercial, and technical, says the company’s vice president for global life sciences, Leif Kronkvist. This “three pillar” approach means monitoring and managing all processes and suppliers for pharma air freight, he says.
Kronkvist says life science customers need “operational leaders” who can build and maintain operational service excellence, develop standard operating procedures (SOPs), manage suppliers and measure performance against key performance indicators (KPIs). They also need strong “commercial leaders” who can determine customer requirements and act as a bridge between the customer and operations, he argues. Finally, they need “technical leaders” who aggressively monitor the industry and regulatory landscape, communicate changes, oversee training and maintain high standards.
Ideally, he says, these three types of leaders act as partners and support each other, improving the flow of goods and data and enabling pharmaceutical manufacturers to reduce costs through better efficiency.
Those sorts of pharma business leaders are important throughout the supply chain, and forwarders have their own preferred airline partners. IJS Global says it has turned to carriers that are willing and able to offer a quality service, as well as those that are flexible enough to accommodate the requirements of the forwarder’s customers. Audits ensure that the product offering meets requirements and that IJS remains up-to-date on developments at the relevant airlines.
These audits of the airline – and airport – are conducted at regular intervals, often in conjunction with its healthcare clients, Attali-Landman says. The first audit is most likely to take place before the first shipment is booked to ensure processes are clear and can be logged into an SOP. Ongoing performance monitoring of airlines continues by means of a set of KPI reports that are shared by IJS with its customers. In the case of any unforeseen issues, a Corrective and Preventative Action (CAPA) is raised with the airline.
“We want to understand what has happened, how it happened and how we can prevent this issue from happening in the future. This preventative action is then closely monitored for a predefined period of time until we are absolutely certain the issue has been solved,” Attali-Landman observes.
Such procedures are fairly typical for the big cargo agents. As part of Agility’s “three pillar” approach, the forwarder’s technical lead on pharma manages service supplier evaluation and approves preferred carriers according to the requirements of Good Distribution Practice (GDP), the guidelines offered by the European Commission on the distribution of medicinal products. Like IJS, it has implemented pharma SOPs covering KPIs, which are monitored within its Pharma Competence Center (PCC) and performance issues followed up according to GDP guidelines.
Forwarders agree that, if the most likely time for cool-chain air cargo to suffer temperature incursions is on the ramp, next most likely is within freight warehouses. All of Panalpina’s preferred carriers must also be GDP-compliant, both in the air and on the ground. And what happens on the ramp is vital, according to Andreas Sahli, global head of Panalpina’s healthcare industry vertical – the performance of many ground handlers is much more of a concern to him than that of the airlines.
He says most pharma production is still centred in Europe and the US – about 70% – and it is from here that most healthcare exports are flown. But the final destination can be pretty much anywhere in the world, and Panalpina has no less than 35 stations it regards as Good Distribution Practice-compliant, although only a handful are officially certified as such.
The risks can obviously be particularly great in locations that are naturally very hot – the Middle East, for example – while some of the locations that are now handling ever-larger pharma volumes are not always known for the quality of their handling. Forwarders point to many locations in India – Hyderabad is mentioned by one – and some locations China, for instance. Having its own “controlled” air freight network (see Forwarder focus article on page XX) of course also allows Panalpina on certain key lanes to control the time spent by pharma consignments on the tarmac, as well as to closely monitor its status within the handling facility.
Airports, too, have their role to play, and many of them are now investing heavily in pharma handling facilities and processes. Brussels International Airport, the first IATA-certified ‘Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Pharma’ community in Europe, is one such, another is Basel. Away from Europe, Singapore Changi and Shanghai are among the big cargo gateways that have also seen fit to invest large sums in pharma handling, forwarders observe.
Together, the performance of the airport authorities and the handlers is key, Sahli insists. Even the most conscientious of carriers are at last partially in the hands of their handlers and the airports to which they fly, he says, and hence Panalpina performs extensive route assessments that incorporate risk analyses of the airports and handlers involved in any potential new pharma lane before deciding whether to open such a route.
The infrastructure of various hub airports is also a concern for IJS. But Attali-Landman believes that, thanks at last in part to the current industry focus on the pharmaceutical industry, new or redesigned airports often take this into considerations.
Either way, Agility’s Kronkvist points out, there is really no complete solution for keeping cargo cool from origin to destination without using passive or active packaging. The demand for real-time monitoring of temperature deviations is certainly becoming more and more apparent, and will be a major challenge to implement. However, a whole new high-tech industry seems to now be springing up to serve that need.
Bringing together the various links in the cool chain is one of the big success stories of the IATA CEIV programme, UTi’s Abbate believes, and he is hopeful that the initiative is one step down the road towards bringing together all the pharma stakeholders together. One issue he would like to see addressed is the creation of an accepted and standardised rate structure for pharma types – including identifying which types of pharma shipments move under what level of controlled conditions.
With more and more national Customs authorities now starting to include requirements for temperature control records for pharma shipments as part of their clearance procedures, there is growing pressure for further quality throughout the entire cool chain – and the ability to demonstrate that via an end-to-end audit trail. And to help customers select from the various air cargo pharma products, some kind of standardization of the various services or levels of support offered would seem a potentially helpful additional step.
American Airlines Cargo
Product outline: American’s ExpediteTC° Active Solution employs advanced, temperature-controlled containers to actively regulate temperature levels. The Passive side of our solution protects pre-packaged shipments that require additional control during transport. Cold packs or dry ice used in packaging are aided by our expert handling and temperature-controlled environments along the cold chain.
In both cases, key features include Highest Boarding Priority, 100% Money Back Guarantee, High Visibility Monitoring, 24/7 Resource Desk, Detailed Checklist/Control Record for each shipment, Structured Contingency Planning, Active Container Management (ACM) areas for container plug-in, and Re-icing & Battery Maintenance (Active t2 units). We have also implemented an Extensive Worldwide Cold Chain Training Program. Our vast network capability is coupled with the robust and reliable processes built into ExpediteTC°, which are designed to protect delicate healthcare shipments. This is complemented by the recent roll-out of the ExpediteTC° processes across the American Airlines’ extended network following our merger with US Airways. ExpediteTC° is currently available in 157 cities across 45 countries.
Improvements in the last 12 months: We continue to invest in our ExpediteTC° program in terms of process evaluation, program features, and infrastructure – including implementation of Controlled Room Temperature (CRT +15°C to +25°C) facilities in key stations across our network, the most recent of which is at our cargo facility at LHR. We were one of the very first air carriers to implement annual recurrent training, globally, for all our employees responsible for temperature-controlled shipments and this extends to our ground-handling partners. We are currently working on new training tools this year to ensure the very best cold chain understanding for our employees.
Plans for this year: In April we opened a dedicated, state of the art, Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Handling Facility at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). The facility has significant capacity for Controlled Room Temperature (CRT: +15°C to +25°C) as well as a refrigerated cold room (COL: +2°C to +8°C). There is an dedicated active container management (ACM) area with plug-in stations for up to 30 equivalent RKN electronic-type units and the facility has an independent power backup system, as well as advanced monitoring and proactive alarming systems.
Cathay Pacific Cargo
Product outline: We offer four service levels: Active Pharma using Envirotainer t2 container;
Heat & Cooling Pharma using Environtainer e1/e2, CSafe RKN, Opticooler RKN/RAP; Passive Pharma for 2-8c passive packaging; Room temperature Pharma for 2-25c passive packaging.
We have 64 Pharma LIFT qualified stations within our network. They can handle all four service levels we offer to market.
Improvements in the last 12 months: Our product is quite mature. In the past year, we approved wireless sensors that can be used on CX aircraft for temperature measurement. We also approved Pharma Port 360 on board CX aircraft last year.
Plans for this year: We continue to improve our Pharma LIFT product. We will be enhancing our ‘train the trainer’ programme on Pharma LIFT operation. We are also looking into CEIV and GDP certification. We just added Opticooler as one of our solutions to market this year.
Product outline: Variation pharma 1: Medical, pharmaceutical product, fine chemicals and biotechnology that need to be kept in active temperature-controlled container between -20ºC to +20ºC (-4ºF to +68ºF). Variation Pharma 2: Medical, pharmaceutical products, fine chemicals and biotechnology that need to be kept in +2ºC to +8ºC (+35ºF to +46ºF). Variation Pharma 3: Provide controlled room temperature (+2ºC~+25ºC) storage when necessary and normal & standard handling procedures.
Variation fresh 1: Any perishable cargo requiring active temperature-controlled air cargo containers during transportation to ensure quality. Variation Fresh 2: Provide temperature-controlled storage for temperature-sensitive products in the warehouse and during transportation. Variation Fresh 3: Provide controlled room temperature (+2ºC~+25ºC) storage when necessary and normal & standard handling procedures.
Recent improvements: Since joining Skyteam Cargo in Oct 2012, CI started following the standard operation procedure from Skyteam Cargo Alliance. Since Feb 2013, China Airlines has cooperated with Envirotainer to introduce air freight services for high-value pharmaceutical products that need strict temperature control. In April 2014, China Airlines (CI) was accreditated as a ‘Qualified Envirotainer Provider’ (QEP), awarded to five global stations: Taipei, Tokyo, San Francisco, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. Cool chain services are now available in most stations across Asia, Europe and the US.
Planned upgrades: Once Civil Aeronautics Administration approved, CI is to provide electronic cargo monitoring devices, which allow customer monitoring of the environmental condition and position of their cargo in real time, online.
Product outline: We launched our branded Pharmaceutical product TEMP-CHECK in March, featuring: Active containers – offering the leasing of temperature controlled unit load devices; Pre-cooled thermo blanket protection – to and from the aircraft to the cool facility; Prioritised ground handling and loading – a maximum of 30 minutes to the cool facility; Highest priority uplift; Temperature controlled storage (2-8oC / 15-25oC); Dedicated pharma customer service team; Temperature controlled cargo hold in aircraft, with captains notified pre-flight; Trained and experience pharma ground handling; Special handing service-pharma oversight from special products operations manager
TEMP-CHECK destinations include: San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare, New York JFK, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Dublin, Manchester, London Heathrow, Paris Charles De Gaulle, Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Milan Malpensa, Rome Fiumicino, Zurich, Geneva, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Incheon, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Tokyo Narita, Kuala Lumpur and Johannesburg.
Recent improvements: We have made a substantial investment in renovating two cool rooms with full temperature monitoring at the Abu Dhabi Airport hub to allow for 200sqm 2-8 degree and 200 pallet 15-25 degree dedicated storage for pharmaceuticals. Ten active container racks and electric sockets have been installed to recharge active containers. A dedicated product operations manager and Special Handing Service-Pharma (SHS-P) team has been put in place to monitor all pharma shipments through the hub.
Planned upgrades: Work is about to commence on an existing building which will give additional capacity for the cargo business, as well as another dedicated pharma facility, which will see us through until the completion of our new cargo mega-terminal at Abu Dhabi Airport. We have been working with a new supplier of high density thermo-blankets to redesign a blanket to perfectly suit our needs, especially given the external temperature and handling efficiencies.
Q4 should see the launch of a new system to have live temperature tracking on all pharma shipments, allowing pre-defined temperature set points; enabling handling to react immediately should any rise in temperature occur.
Product outline: IAG Cargo’s Constant Climate dedicated service for time-and-temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, ensures temperature sensitive shipments maintain a stable internal temperature regardless of changes in the ambient temperature. This solution supports temperatures from -20˚C to +25˚C and thereby protects the integrity and quality of pharmaceutical products – for delivery in a pure, potent and stable condition for safe administration to patients. The dedicated vertical team responsible for the global development and delivery of Constant Climate are based at London Heathrow and Madrid and bring many years of experience from both the pharmaceutical industry and air cargo specialist products industry. This combination of skills provides a greater understanding and knowledge to shippers and freight forwarders alike.
Recent improvements: In 2014, IAG Cargo became the world’s first cargo carrier to be awarded a GDP (Good Distribution Practice) certification by a national government health agency. This achievement is widely recognised as meeting the diamond standard for pharmaceutical transport. In addition, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency granted IAG Cargo Wholesale Distribution Authorisation (WDA) for medicines intended for both human and veterinary use. The award was granted in recognition of pharmaceutical supply chain excellence at our Heathrow hub.
In the past year we have grown our Constant Climate network to more than 100 stations, one of the most extensive network offerings on the market. Each station provides customers with a quality assured service delivered by a dedicated team of specialists trained in Good Distribution Practice guidelines and IATA Chapter 17 regulations. The latest station to join our network was Bordeaux, which followed hot on the heels of new stations in key locations across the world, including Nairobi, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Osaka.
Planned upgrades: IAG Cargo will continue to execute its global investment programme in its Constant Climate product. This includes developing our dedicated Constant Climate team. In the past few months we have expanded our vertical team with the appointment of a Global Logistics Executive to manage our growing active container leasing business. We have also appointed a Regulatory Compliance Executive to support the Global Quality Assurance Manager and ensure compliance to reflect the increasing regulatory environment.
We have also recently improved our communication process, allowing customers to monitor the status of their shipments and worked with our suppliers to ensure climate control systems were built in to our latest fleet investments, including B787 and A380 aircraft. We also have in place a robust quality management System for excellence in GDP handling.
We anticipate building on the exceptional training programme we have put in place with our partners Exelsius. This pioneering certified training workshop in Good Distribution Practices combines classroom training in the correct handling of temperature sensitive pharmaceutical products with a ‘live’ visit to an airport airside area.
Product outline: The LAN Cargo Pharma Product is a highly specialized solution designed for the transportation of goods that need temperature control. The product was designed considering industry recommended practice, such as IATA PCR/Chapter 17 and GDP recommendations.
LAN Cargo’s Passive Pharma commitment is based on a detailed SLA that contains the following features: Procedures to ensure time spent out of controlled temperature rooms is minimized; Use of thermal blankets to minimize temperature exposure; Use of thermographs to monitor internal processes; Proactive communication with customers in the event of an incident; On-going process improvement program; KPIs; Specially trained personnel
Since we our introduced pharma product, six months ago, it’s been very successfully in our European operation. The product is currently implemented in our main European gateways (Amsterdam, Basel and Frankfurt) and will be rolled out in North America and South America during Q2 2015 (MIA, JFK, ORD, GRU, EZE.
Recent improvements: We have put together a centralized team to develop and continuously improve our pharma offering to the market. This has enabled us to achieve things like: Implemented new SOP and SLA for Passive Pharma; Acquired thermographs and thermal blankets; Improved cooler facilities; Partner with Envirotainer to offer direct container lease
Planned upgrades: This year LAN Cargo will continue to implement a Passive Pharma product in the main gateways of our network. Additionally, LAN Cargo will implement an Active Pharma product based on a detailed SLA featuring: Procedures to ensure containers optimum performance; Replacement of batteries/dry ice or plug in to proper electrical outlets; Proactive communication with customers in the event of an incident; On-going process improvement program; KPIs; Option to lease container directly from LAN Cargo; Specially trained personnel.
Product outline: Cool/td targets the needs of the Life Science and Health Care industry for reliable airport-to-airport transport of temperature-sensitive goods. Under the umbrella of the Cool/td services, Lufthansa Cargo provides a range of additional processes, infrastructure, information and trained personnel to enable and document that temperature-sensitive cargo is protected from unwanted temperature excursions wherever possible during air cargo transport.
Variants – Cool/td offers with the following variants a wide spectrum of options for air transport of almost any type and volume of temperature-sensitive cargo: Cool/td-Passive – transport in specialized thermal and insulated packaging solutions; Cool/td-Active – transport in specifically designed cool-containers; Cool/td & DGR – transport of temperature-sensitive Dangerous Goods either in thermal passive packaging (Cool/td-Passive & DGR) solutions or in cool-containers (Cool/td-Active & DGR)
Features – Minimal tarmac exposure times and storage in protected, temperature-controlled surroundings where available; Shipments travel in temperature-controlled cargo compartments wherever possible, depending on the aircraft type; Special containers with active temperature control (Cool/td-Active); Uninterrupted recording of temperature data for Opticooler and Unicooler; Documentation of the transport chain.
Facts & Figures – We fly three freighters worth of pharma tonnage per day, or about 1,800 m3 in volume; The amount of insulin we transport supplies 1.3 million diabetic patients per day; The tablets we fly each week could form a line longer than the Great Wall of China.
Recent improvements: Introduction of C-Safe Containers, and new pricing scheme based on a ‘pay for what you use’ with no minimum lease and no demurrage fees. GDP certification for Lufthansa Cargo Cool Center in Frankfurt
Upgrade plans: One goal will be to set up a new product line that will cater for customers with loose/single shipments, with a focus on fast and transparent processes, not only on temperature control. Second goal will be to set up a new product line especially for customers with BUP/ULD units and a special need for temperature-controlled storage and handling.
TempControl is United Cargo’s premium service for healthcare and pharmaceutical products, and a wide range of other commodities that require strict temperature controls and monitoring during transport. United Cargo first introduced TempControl in 2009. Following the United-Continental merger in 2011, TempControl was combined with the best features of Continental’s ClimateSecure product to create a leading integrated product for commodities requiring temperature-controlled transport.
TempControl uses temperature-controlled storage facilities on the ground and specially-trained staff to monitor shipment movement from the facility to the aircraft. Dedicated personnel ensure shipments are delivered planeside just in time for flight departure, minimizing exposure. At arrival, shipments are expedited off the plane to safe, temperature-controlled storage at the warehouse.
Physical battery checks, battery changes, re-icing, power supplies and corrective actions are taken on shipments as required. United Cargo is continuously focused on expanding our global TempControl network, and we recently reached the milestone of 50 certified locations worldwide. Three additional locations are in the approval process, with two more planned.
Temperature-controlled unit load devices accepted by United include the CSafe RKN, Envirotainer RKN e1, Envirotainer RKN t2 and Envirotainer RAP t2. Additional containers and services offered include the Pelican BioThermal 120hr Reusable Shipper, PharmaPort 360, Q-Products & Services and va-Q-tainer Euro, US and XL.
Recent improvements: We’re growing our TempControl business in a variety of ways: expanding our network, offering new product options, making new containers available and enhancing the efficiency of our operational processes and our customer service. United was the first US carrier to announce the Envirotainer RKN e1 temperature control container would be available for use by our customers. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the RKN e1 in July 2014, and United Cargo announced our approval effective October 1. On November 2, following additional collaboration between Envirotainer and United’s Engineering group, we flew the RKN e1 for the first time.
Planned upgrades: In addition to plans to further expand our TempControl network, United Cargo will continue to refine the product’s quality handling and features. Our TempControl Sales Team keeps in close contact with our customers, which allows us to base our product development on their needs. The features available with our TempControl products are tailored to our customers’ needs. Specific details are available through consultation with United Cargo Sales professionals.
Qatar Airways Cargo
Product outline: QR Pharma was launched in January 2014, offering both active and passive solutions. The active solution provides temperature-controlled containers designed to maintain a constant temperature throughout the entire transport chain, while the passive solution keeps the product within a defined temperature band. QR Pharma is now available in 53 destinations and we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our clients. In September 2014, we expanded the pharma network for loose cargo. Since the launch until April 1, 2015, we have flown 12 million kilos of pharmaceutical shipments successfully.
Recent improvements: The transition to Hamad International Airport (HIA) commenced in December, 2013, with full operations transferring in May 2014. The new state-of-the-art cargo facility incorporates Automated Systems; 11 wide-body aircraft standing bays; 42 loading docks; 31 landside truck-loading facilities; advanced scanning technology to ensure safety and security of the facility, its staff and cargo.
There is a dedicated cold room for pharmaceutical shipments. The main features include: Use of reefer vehicles on the ramp that collect and deliver directly to and from the aircraft totally eliminating ramp exposure. Temperature-controlled handling and storage at the HIA Cargo Terminal in the appropriate temperature zones; 64 temperature-controlled cells for units requiring precise temperature; Fastest airline transfer at Doha through its Quick Ramp Transfer (QRT) solution; Only carrier in the Middle East to offer refrigerated or ‘reefer’ truck services for ramp transfers.
Speed and temperature play a crucial role in the transport of these products and we make sure that they are handled expertly throughout their journey. We adhere to the IATA regulations for the carriage of pharmaceuticals. Qatar Airways Cargo uses special containers in collaboration with Envirotainer and CSafe. We are always working closely with our customers to look at ways that we can improve the product and services offered to them.
Air France-KLM Cargo
Product outline: For Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo, the biggest markets are in order of priority Europe, Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa. ‘Pharma Control’ (2°C-25°C) is still the largest product category. The second largest product category is ‘Pharma Active’ (active containers), which keeps showing a steep growth. The fastest-growing product category is ‘Pharma Control’ (15°C-25°C) and we expect this trend to continue for the coming years.
A large number of airports/stations on our network are now equipped to handle pharma. In addition, we use the latest technology and equipment, including ‘Envirotainer’, ‘C-Safe’, and ‘Va-Q-tec’ containers, according to our customers’ needs and requests to help in achieving the transport of pharma products under good conditions.
Recent improvements: Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo was one of the first carriers to launch a 15°C-25°C solution (in 2013). Almost a third of the 300 stations within our Pharma Network are open for this ‘Pharma Control’ product, and we are continuing investments to enlarge the number of stations even further.
The pharmaceutical industry in Egypt has been steadily growing for the past five years, with an estimated value forecast at $8 billion in 2015. To cope with both this growth and natural conditions of average temperatures above 30°C for more than 6 months a year, we have invested in revamping the cool facilities at Cairo airport. A 124 m3 room is now available to accommodate pharmaceutical products between 15°C and 25°C. On top of this, the capacity of the 2°C-8°C cold room has been doubled to a total of 420m3 to cope with large pharmaceutical shipments.
Closer to home, we recently invested in our central cargo hub Paris-Charles de Gaulle. Our G1XL warehouse can now offer three additional cool rooms for pharmaceutical loose shipments to be kept between 2°C and 8°C. This is in addition of the current state-of-the-art cool room capable of storing up to 1130 m3 of loose pharmaceutical shipments and close to 90 aircraft pallets, all under 24/7 surveillance and monitoring.
Planned improvements: To stay at the forefront of the pharmaceutical/life science industry takes strong commitment to continuous innovation by listening to customer needs, to keep building on our successful legacy of shipping pharmaceuticals for more than 20 years and to boldly chart a new path when it makes sense.
To stay abreast, we have initiated informal discussion platforms to exchange views with pharmaceutical shippers on what matters most. The most recent conference, ‘GDP Practice in the Aviation Industry’, was co-organized with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the Dutch Association of Research Quality Assurance.
This conference led to two main takeaways: 1. To improve supply chain quality and thereby product integrity of the pharmaceutical goods we need to enhance partnership communication between shippers, forwarders and airlines. Transparency and collaboration is key to further improve the supply chain quality. 2. Decisions on how exactly GDP should be implemented in an airline and the air cargo industry need to be done based on a risk-based approach, where the product integrity of the transported goods should always be the goal.