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Companies pursue cool chain pharma developments

By Staff Reports on February 12, 2014

UPS and Singapore Air Terminal Services Ltd. (SATS) both announced cool chain developments for the pharma industry.

UPS has completed the purchase of UK-based Polar Speed, a provider of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical supply chain services in the UK.

The purchase is part of UPS's health care strategy. Polar Speed specializes in active temperature-controlled deliveries to hospitals, pharmacies, wholesalers and surgery centers as well as end patients. Polar Speed also offers capabilities within the growing homecare direct-to-consumer delivery market.

"The acquisition will help UPS meet the needs of health care customers who want to reach the important UK market offering increased value in managing more flexible and efficient health care supply chains," Cindy Miller, president UPS Europe, said. "Our combined services will ensure health care companies have access to the best temperature-sensitive transportation solutions and allow us to effectively handle the rising demand for temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical and biologic products."

Polar Speed uses a fleet of 118 actively monitored temperature-controlled vehicles for transporting both 2-8 degrees celsius refrigerated and 15-25 degrees celsius products. The fleet is outfitted with PolarTrack, an online portal linked to a satellite navigation system allowing customers to access real-time delivery status and temperature conditions of their products.

"Our organization is extremely excited to join forces with UPS," Richard Holmes, managing director of Polar Speed, said. "With our combined solutions, we will continue to provide high-quality service to our customers, and at the same time provide our employees opportunities to help build on the growth momentum UPS has realized in the health care market."

This acquisition adds three facilities with advanced warehousing management systems, full quality assurance services and an experienced workforce to UPS's existing global health care network, now totaling 45 health care facilities.

Merrill Lynch International, a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, acted exclusively for UPS in connection with this transaction. Terms of this acquisition are not being disclosed.

SATS also announced expansion in the pharma market. Its perishable handling facility, SATS Coolport, is the world’s first Centre of Excellence in Pharmaceutical Handling, certified by the International Air Transport Association.

SATS decided to set up a Centre of Excellence in Pharmaceutical Handling to cater to the high growth in pharmaceutical airfreight. SATS Coolport handled more than 15,200 tonnes of pharmaceuticals in 2013.

The certification process, which took three months to complete, encompassed some upgrading of the facility, including enhancements to Coolport’s dedicated pharmaceutical zone for both acceptance and delivery of shipments.

“The development of SATS Coolport as the first Centre of Excellence in Pharmaceutical Handling will give our airline customers and global shippers further assurance that their pharmaceutical shipments are handled to the most exacting standards,” Alex Hungate, president and CEO of SATS, said. “With this milestone and the growing demand for end-to-end, assured handling of high-value pharmaceutical products, SATS will look at extending our state-of-the-art cold chain capabilities to our other operations across Asia.”

More than 80 SATS employees working at the facility are undergoing a specialized training program for pharmaceutical handling conducted by IATA. Upon passing their examinations at the end of the program, which can take up to 12 months, the staff will receive a Diploma in Pharmaceutical Handling from IATA. The first batch of trainees is expected to graduate in October.

“SATS Coolport’s certification as the world’s first Centre of Excellence in Pharmaceutical Handling reinforces a niche of excellence that will strengthen the Singapore aviation hub and the air cargo and logistics sector here,” Yap Ong Heng, director-general of Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), said. “This achievement will certainly enhance Changi Airport and Singapore’s position as a choice location for pharmaceutical airfreight. CAAS is pleased to support the SATS collaboration with IATA in building this novel, distinctive capability through our Aviation Innovation Programme.”