Organs ready for transplantation; vaccinations destined for babies and small children; emergency medicines for the ER – pharmaceuticals are some of the most integral cargo a company can carry and require specialist handling. The transportation of vaccines and medicines is estimated to have been worth $10.2bn in 2018, and is predicted to be worth $12.6bn by 2020. With such sensitive cargo in mind, it is no wonder that the industry is increasingly working towards certification, to ensure that cargo maintains its integrity.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) supports aviation with set global standards for safety, security, efficiency and sustainability and is campaigning for tighter, more stringent regulations around the transportation via air of pharmaceutical products. IATA is aiming to increase air cargo’s share of this lucrative market and has produced a voluntary accreditation in response.

The Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) accreditation helps organisations gain an official statement of excellence when it comes to handling pharmaceuticals. CEIV Pharma follows IATA’s pattern of advocating high standards in safety and security and has established a checklist of validation for locations or operators in order to become certified. IATA hopes this will increase compliance and accountability within the air transportation supply chain, as well as saving billions in annual losses, which most often are due to temperature deviations.

IATA aren’t the only ones endorsing improved standards when it comes to the shipment of pharmaceuticals: Pharma.Aero, a cross-industry collaborative initiative which aims to foster collaboration between CEIV certified airport communities and achieve reliable end-to-end air transportation for pharma shippers. Just this month, Pharma.Aero announced a three-way agreement between themselves and both Hong Kong International and Brussels Airports to launch a new pharma corridor between the two hubs. The two airports will utilise CEIV-certified airlines to carry pharma cargo, handling shipments in compliance with the IATA-issued guidelines, in a move which the industry hopes will promote transparency. Pharma.Aero soon hope to widen the initiative to other member airports.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) also harbours its own solo goals for pharma transportation, after revealing in 2017 that it intended to develop a premium logistics centre complete with automated temperature control. The idea behind the logistics centre is to provide specifically for the healthcare sector
– no small investment, but one that is crucial when considering the airport’s reputation as the world’s busiest cargo gateway. Qatar Airways, which has expanded its pharma network to more than 70 stations worldwide, recorded 45% year-on-year growth in pharma tonnage for the January–October 2018 period. Qatar Airways’ Chief Cargo Officer, Guillaume Halleux, reports that cargo requiring passive temperature-control solutions makes up the ‘majority’ of the traffic.

So…beyond industry-recognised certification, what is left?
What gaps are there to cement any company – newcoming or already established – as the one to trust with your precious, sensitive and time-critical cargo? The answer could be one we hear time and time again: technology.

The IoT (‘internet of things’) has been long fabled as the ‘end-all’ to problems in almost any industry you look at. However, when it comes to the cold chain, it doesn’t take much to figure out that when the precise monitoring and control of ambient temperature is involved, the IoT is a blessing.  

The authors of the ‘Cold Chain Logistics Market for Healthcare: Focus on Cell Therapies, Vaccines and Human Organs 2018- 2030’ report, stated: 

Given the recent technological breakthroughs, advances and the steadily rising demand for bio-pharmaceuticals, the reliance on cold chain is expected to increase substantially, causing logistics service providers to contemplate, devise and implement business strategies and operational models to cope with the future needs. 

So, whether it is well-established technology such as GPS tracking the whereabouts of valuable medicines, or an internet-connected thermometer which is able to mediate the temperature within a container, given the immense value of the market, it is worth investing in high-quality equipment when considering the competitive nature of the market. It will be interesting to see how current weak spots in the transit of temperature-controlled goods are managed to improve processes and prevent losses moving forward, and how the most innovative companies will excel in time, becoming ‘the household name’ for pharma logistics.

Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine 

Organs ready for transplantation; vaccinations destined for babies and small children; emergency medicines for the ER – pharmaceuticals are some of the most integral cargo a company can carry and require specialist handling. The transportation of vaccines and medicines is estimated to have been worth $10.2bn in 2018, and is predicted to be worth $12.6bn by 2020. With such sensitive cargo in mind, it is no wonder that the industry is increasingly working towards certification, to ensure that cargo maintains its integrity.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) supports aviation with set global standards for safety, security, efficiency and sustainability and is campaigning for tighter, more stringent regulations around the transportation via air of pharmaceutical products. IATA is aiming to increase air cargo’s share of this lucrative market and has produced a voluntary accreditation in response.

The Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) accreditation helps organisations gain an official statement of excellence when it comes to handling pharmaceuticals. CEIV Pharma follows IATA’s pattern of advocating high standards in safety and security and has established a checklist of validation for locations or operators in order to become certified. IATA hopes this will increase compliance and accountability within the air transportation supply chain, as well as saving billions in annual losses, which most often are due to temperature deviations.

IATA aren’t the only ones endorsing improved standards when it comes to the shipment of pharmaceuticals: Pharma.Aero, a cross-industry collaborative initiative which aims to foster collaboration between CEIV certified airport communities and achieve reliable end-to-end air transportation for pharma shippers. Just this month, Pharma.Aero announced a three-way agreement between themselves and both Hong Kong International and Brussels Airports to launch a new pharma corridor between the two hubs. The two airports will utilise CEIV-certified airlines to carry pharma cargo, handling shipments in compliance with the IATA-issued guidelines, in a move which the industry hopes will promote transparency. Pharma.Aero soon hope to widen the initiative to other member airports.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) also harbours its own solo goals for pharma transportation, after revealing in 2017 that it intended to develop a premium logistics centre complete with automated temperature control. The idea behind the logistics centre is to provide specifically for the healthcare sector
– no small investment, but one that is crucial when considering the airport’s reputation as the world’s busiest cargo gateway. Qatar Airways, which has expanded its pharma network to more than 70 stations worldwide, recorded 45% year-on-year growth in pharma tonnage for the January–October 2018 period. Qatar Airways’ Chief Cargo Officer, Guillaume Halleux, reports that cargo requiring passive temperature-control solutions makes up the ‘majority’ of the traffic.

So…beyond industry-recognised certification, what is left?
What gaps are there to cement any company – newcoming or already established – as the one to trust with your precious, sensitive and time-critical cargo? The answer could be one we hear time and time again: technology.

The IoT (‘internet of things’) has been long fabled as the ‘end-all’ to problems in almost any industry you look at. However, when it comes to the cold chain, it doesn’t take much to figure out that when the precise monitoring and control of ambient temperature is involved, the IoT is a blessing. 

The authors of the ‘Cold Chain Logistics Market for Healthcare: Focus on Cell Therapies, Vaccines and Human Organs 2018- 2030’ report, stated:

Given the recent technological breakthroughs, advances and the steadily rising demand for bio-pharmaceuticals, the reliance on cold chain is expected to increase substantially, causing logistics service providers to contemplate, devise and implement business strategies and operational models to cope with the future needs.

So, whether it is well-established technology such as GPS tracking the whereabouts of valuable medicines, or an internet-connected thermometer which is able to mediate the temperature within a container, given the immense value of the market, it is worth investing in high-quality equipment when considering the competitive nature of the market. It will be interesting to see how current weak spots in the transit of temperature-controlled goods are managed to improve processes and prevent losses moving forward, and how the most innovative companies will excel in time, becoming ‘the household name’ for pharma logistics.

Sarah O’Connell, Senior Editor, FORWARDER magazine