Membership quadruples in just three years

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Ferry van der Ent, director business development at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Following the launch of Pharma Gateway Amsterdam three years ago, the number of members has almost quadrupled while resulting in better and clearer processes.

The programme was launched at the IATA World Cargo Symposium 2016 in Berlin, Germany to support a certified track from the shipper to the consignee.

Members come from across the supply chain, representing forwarders, handlers, airlines and hauliers. Having started with six members, it has grown to 23 with almost all of them CEIV-certified. The last two are in the final stages of the certification process.

Certifying the supply chain in this way ensures that all companies operate according to the same standardised procedures, reducing the risk of temperature deviations for pharmaceutical shipments.

Modal shift

Something that has been noticeable is the modal shift from airfreight. Ferry van der Ent, director business development at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol says: “One thing we have noticed is that mid-value pharma shipments are slowly shifting to other modalities, but there is still an increase in overall volume using airfreight. However, it is becoming more difficult to present accurate data.”

He adds that the evolution of passive packaging is influencing the use of active containers, and also impacting the number of pharma shipments booked with a special handling code.

Undergoing CEIV Pharma is no easy feat, but it is a good way to show customers that you are serious about handling their shipments with care. Some customers will never be completely happy but even the fussiest shipper must acknowledge that investments in cooling storages and facilities and operational processes have resulted in improvements.

Van der Ent stresses that CEIV is “not a goal itself, it is a means to achieving a goal”.

He says: “It is a tool to ensure that parties between the shipper and the consignee are on the same level (or better) of awareness, staff training, and operating procedures. Not only in Amsterdam, but also in the connecting origins and destinations.”

“The more stakeholders that are CEIV certified, the stronger the standard will become. It gives shippers the opportunity in order to set out request to limited suppliers” van der Ent adds.

Van der Ent believes that all this work has given Schiphol a competitive advantage over airports who are not certified, saying: “The IATA CEIV audit is not a walk in the park. All certified companies made an effort, and at Schiphol there have been a number of side-effects. For example, it became a driver for collaboration between the PGA members, for increasing efficiency and innovation, and for doing business together.”

Standards are not slipping, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo has recently undergone re-certification, something that makes van der Ent happy.

He says: “We have a lot of confidence in our stakeholders, and we know they will not be letting standards slip. But it is good to learn that IATA came to the same conclusion by performing an independent audit.”