Changi Airport aims to be the premier pharma hub

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Lim Ching Kiat, managing director for air hub development at Changi Airport Group

As a leading biomedical manufacturing hub in Asia Pacific, airfreight is very important to the industry in Singapore, who are benefitting from Changi Airport’s ambition of becoming the premier pharmaceutical air cargo hub in the region.

Lim Ching Kiat, managing director for air hub development at Changi Airport Group says that eight of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies have established facilities in Singapore, and due to the time-critical and high value nature of the shipments, strong and reliable airfreight services are essential.

Changi Airport became the first airport community in Asia Pacific to attain IATA CEIV Pharma certification and has the largest number of certified companies in the region.

Kiat says: “We see the value to embark on the IATA CEIV Pharma certification via a community approach, where at least one company in each node of the air cargo supply chain (in Singapore) adheres to the stringent requirements of the IATA CEIV Pharma standards. This is to ensure a secured and reliable air cargo supply chain through Singapore.”

After Changi formed the CEIV Pharma community, the Pharma@Changi initiative was launched in October 2017 where members can discuss best practices, assess new and emerging pharmaceutical logistics trends and technologies, as well as implement pilot projects.

Kiat says: “Over a year into the formation of Pharma@Changi, our members have collaborated on several joint-marketing activities, held several dialogues on best practices and discussed feedback from our two editions of the annual Pharma Shipper Forums – which are specially organised by Changi Airport to solicit the inputs from pharmaceutical shippers.”

In addition to working with the local community, Changi is also working with other like-minded airport communities through Pharma.Aero, which has helped Changi deepen knowledge of pharmaceutical shippers’ global supply chain needs and concerns. Pharma.Aero’s digitisation project is a response to shippers demanding greater visibility and real-time information on their shipments to ensure product integrity and minimise product losses.

Kiat says: “As part of the first phase of the digitisation project (also known as Digi 1.0), members of the project team have been at the forefront of developing a proof of concept model to consolidate various data on a near real-time basis from various supply chain players.”

Shippers will be able to collect relevant data, enhance visibility of pharma products along the supply chain and receive timely alerts to prevent temperature excursions, and visualise and perform analytics on a specific trade lane. A White Paper on the first phase will be published in the coming weeks.

The next phase, Digi 2.0, will involve Changi Airport and Brussels Airport, DHL Global Forwarding and carriers such as Singapore Airlines building a prototype using real data for selected trade lanes such as Brussels-Singapore-Sydney.

Following the success of CEIV Pharma, Kiat says Changi welcomes the programme being extended, saying: “On the recently launched IATA CEIV Live Animals and CEIV Fresh, we welcome such initiatives by IATA as they further raise the standard for air cargo transportation of specialised cargo. These new CEIV standards would ensure the supply chain partners have the right infrastructure and training to handle these cargo segments and ultimately reduce losses during air transportation.”