NASHVILLE – At present 28 certifications have been completed and 850 people have been trained in IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validator’s (CEIV) program, said Ronald Schaefer, project lead, CEIV Pharma, IATA, during Tuesday’s session at the CNS Partnership Conference. By the end of the year, Schaefer said he expects 80 entities in 34 locations to be certified— “with the number growing on a daily basis.”
Schaefer reiterated that the program was not simply a new symbol that could be bought, but rather an effort to regain shipper confidence. “If we do not jointly create our own standards as an industry, somebody else will. We still have a chance to say we have understood the message, and that we understand that harmonization and standardization are key.”
In an overview of the program, Schaefer said the justification was to counteract the modal shift that had has eroded airfreight’s share of valuable pharmaceutical cargo in recent years. From 2000 to 2013, airfreight’s market share of the burgeoning market fell from 17 percent to 11 percent. In an effort to secure the logistics supply chain from the incidence of temperature excursions — fluctuations that can destroy the cargo during the handling process — CEIV strives to target and resolve issues with pharma handling with a global standard and certification program to solidify shipper confidence in airfreight pharma handling.
Schaefer said the program is IATA’s response to handlers calling for a standard. With competing global and regional standards ranging from the World Health Organization’s Appendix 5, to country-specific GSPs in China and Singapore, the airfreight supply chain lacks a coherent standard as freight moves from one entity to another. Schaffer gave the example of how a single shipment from Brussels to Sydney changed hands 14 times as it was transferred from ground-handler to carrier, back and forth along multiple flight segments through different countries. A single mistake at any milestone during the shipment could have spoiled the precious cargo.
Yet, the ability to properly handle the cargo is in reach of most stakeholders. Most frequently it is not a lack of infrastructure, but rather improper training or practices that leads to the incidence of excursions. The simple aim of the CEIV program is, then, “to prevent sanitary issues for the transport of pharma, by harmonizing standards and elevating staff competence through a consistent global certification program” according to Schafer.
Given the comprehensive nature of the process, it can take an organization anywhere from two to eight months to receive CEIV validation. Beginning with a facilities audit — which Schafer described as a “line-by-line comparison” of the new standard with the practices of the organization — a gap analysis report is generated to serve as the basis for improvement.
The concept is very top-down in nature, one global standard, which is the product of existing regulations serves as the pillar for the program’s other elements. It is applicable and comprehensive for all links along the pharma supply chain, ranging from freight forwarders to carriers and the ground handlers and logistics providers in-between. Intensive multi-day trainings focused on temperature controlled cargo operations are then the medium through which the standard is disseminated.