Cool School: Inside the CEIV-Pharma certification program

Classes begin

The official kick-off of the training came in June 2014, when each participant went through a pre-assessment phase to determine the level of training needed. Some companies wanted the certification to showcase their capabilities, while others used it as a guideline to improve their performance standard, Polmans said. After pre-assessment, training sessions were arranged in Brussels for all of the stakeholders during the months of September and October.

The instruction was broken into segments, including temperature-controlled cargo handling, temperature-controlled container operations, risk management of temperature-controlled cargo and quality of temperature-controlled cargo. Special emphasis was placed on vigilance during the transfer of containers to different parties, which is the point at which temperature excursions often occur. Also discussed was what to do if an aircraft departure was delayed. Should handlers leave the ULDs on the aircraft or bring them inside? An extra 15 minutes either way can easily destroy a shipment.

“This was not just textbook training,” Kleppers said. “We were actively involved with other partners in the supply chain. We had some great discussions about their problems. Just putting a cooler on your truck is not going to be enough.”

In one class, regulators from IATA and the Belgian Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products, who were also taking part in the classes, discussed the important issue of fake pharmaceuticals on the market and how to spot them. “We only knew our own business,” Leyssens said. “But this way, we saw how the regulators really work. Now we have an idea about what they do. It was a very practical and interesting discussion.”

Then each class visited real-world operations, such as a forwarder’s warehouse or a cargo facility to witness actual ramp operations. “Forwarders, we learned, live in a very competitive environment,” Leyssens said. “We were really surprised by the pressure placed on them by the shippers.”

Leyssens said he was impressed with the amount of time spent on risk management, such as the added levels of risk if a company, for instance, did something as seemingly innocuous as allowing a forklift repairman to enter a facility. The site visits also instructed the ground handlers about cool or warm spots that can go undetected on the main deck of cargo planes. “We also had an interesting discussion on temperature consistency,” he said. “Even the slightest temperature change can have a major impact on pharmaceutical goods. I’d like to think the other members learned some new things, too.”

By November, the classroom and workshop portion was complete and each company became subject to an auditing of their own processes. If the final audit was positive and all the training was completed, the company got its IATA CEIV certificate. In this case, all 11 participants were successful and given certificate stamps in December.

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