ABU DHABI, UAE -- “The two areas that are the weakest links are ground handling and temperature mapping, there is still a lot of black area in the cargo hold,” Aynur Rasulova-Rzepa, independent validator for IATA told a CEIV Pharma workshop at the 11th IATA World Cargo Symposium in Abu Dhabi. “We need to be more transparent about the realities in the cargo hold.”
Rasulova-Rzepa’s comments followed sobering numbers that showed that 25 percent of vaccines reach the end location in, “degraded condition.” That volume adds up to some US$34.1 billion in losses associated with temperature excursions on pharma shipments moved via air freight.
The CEIV program has succeeded in making air freight a less risky proposition for pharma shippers, but as losses mount, the industry is acknowledging that air freight shouldn’t oversell its capabilities, and barring that, companies should be clear about the risks. “We need to understand what we are capable of and communicate that transparently,” explained Andrea Gruber, senior manager for special cargo at IATA.
While there are inherent risks to transporting pharma in hot MENA climates such as the UAE, Claus Nickel, manager planning & operations support for dnata said the company planned to provide customized solutions to mitigate the risks for potential temperature deviations.
Participants noted that this transparency extends to the sales side of the business. “It’s important to talk about this information on your website… understand these limitations about yourself,” Rasulova-Rzepa suggested.
Sunil Doshi, managing director, Pharmsol GMBH also raised the example of Saudi Arabia, where the country’s geography and climate make it remarkably hard to be fully compliant when pharmaceuticals are delivered to remote outposts in some of the hottest conditions on earth.
In the current market, certification alone is not enough. Companies have to strive for continued compliance. That means sharing knowledge with the pharma industry, which in turn involves honest communication about weak points along the supply chain.
Dnata’s Nickel recalled that when he started with Emirates in Germany two decades ago, he could only recall two KPIs that were signed. They were “to keep the shipments in the warehouse,” and, “avoid direct sunlight,” reminding the audience how much the industry has developed in recent years.
Nickel cited research that 8 out of 10 pharma shipments will require cold chain services. “CEIV was GDP plus,” he said. “It’s more comprehensive.” He anticipates that dnata will receive CEIV validation later this month, also noting that the process allowed his company to identify and address quality gaps in their operations.
Bruno Guella, cargo corporate director for Corporacion America Airports, added the perspective of airport operators in South America. He raised the extensive bureaucratic impediments to streamlined air cargo, where customs regulations can change overnight. “The supply chain is hard to control in Latin America,” he explained. Certification is a smart way to overcome these weaknesses.
Athens Airport joined the CEIV community last month. Alexios Sioris, the airport’s manager for ground handling and cargo development discussed ways that the airport was looking to boost pharma exports as the Greek economy works to dig out of its economic downturn. He said that they were working with two national pharma associations to build support for certification. Sioris said that there were six initial participating companies. He hopes that they can receive validation and certification later this year.
The takeaways from the morning’s sessions are that while CEIV is a valuable tool for addressing weaknesses in pharma transport, it’s a work in progress. The numbers still aren’t where IATA or it’s certificate holders want them to be, and pharma shippers are still looking for better service. Today’s discourse is good news in that regard, and represents an industry that is actively looking to close the gaps.
Those interested in learning more about airfreight in 2017, should join us at Cargo Facts Asia in Shanghai, 25 – 26 April. To register, or for more information, go to CargoFactsAsia.com...