Pharma logistics grow while challenges remain


2016 has been a challenging year but pharma logistics are still growing, and Air France KLM Martinair Cargo (AF-KL-MP) is working on improving processes, director of pharmaceutical logistics, Renate de Walle (pictured) tells Air Cargo Week.

The start of the year was volatile but the final three months of 2016 made up for this, and compared to 2015, pharma logistics kept growing.

De Walle says AF-KL-MP has been working on improving processes and investing in new facilities, and that global quality, specifically flown as booked and maintaining the cool chain, requires attention.

She says: “With all the efforts of the colleagues in the origins, the AMS & CDG Hub’s and the final destinations, we realised better kpi’s compared to 2015.”

De Walle says AF-KL-MP is seeing the largest growth under pharma 15-25°, up 40 per cent and for pharma containers. The former is sold under the brand and solutions “Pharma Controlled Cool Chain” composed of 2-25, 2-8 and 15-25.

The containers are sold under the name “Pharma Closed Cool Chain” developed with four container suppliers, CSafe, Dokasch, Envirotainer and Va-Q-Tec.

Modal shift remains a concern to de Walle, who says: “[The] worrisome part is still the ongoing modal shift from air into ocean from our core shippers.”

This year started at the same level as 2016, with double-digit growth in France and the Americas. Asia has been slow but AF-KL-MP will have a more complete picture at the end of the quarter.

Describing the outlook, de Walle comments: “All in all we expect to achieve a better semester than 2016 due to positive developments in Europe and Americas and also globally on the +15+25°C solution because there is a high demand on that temperature range.”

De Walle says AF-KL-MP has been able to integrate and sell a wide range of temperature and solutions, from -60 to +40°C, and that customers not only benefit from the choice but the different services.

“We highly enhanced our pharma stations capabilities so that we cover more than 280 destinations able to offer one of our pharma products.”

She adds: “Thanks to our close cooperation with our customers and pharma industry we are also working on new tools and new products taking into consideration a more and more regulated pharma world.”

De Walle says pharma products are in safe hands with AF-KL-MP, with its wide network with direct destinations and it is constantly enhancing and analysing processes to adapt to the supply chain.

She says: “You have with our pharma solutions the capacity to choose best products and you are under dedicated teams hands. Our commitment is to provide you with the right information based on a close collaboration.”

To further ensure pharmaceuticals are handled properly, AF-KL-MP underwent and achieved International Air Transport Association (IATA) Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV) at both its hubs – Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

De Walle says IATA CEIV is very important, explaining: “It brings transparency, standardisation and efficiency to all the stakeholders. This certification is the insurance of quality and compliancy to the regulations.”

AF-KL-MP is part of programmes including Schiphol’s Pharma Gateway Amsterdam, to create a ‘closed’ pharma chain at the airport.

De Walle says the benefits include better communication, saying: “Raising issues we are all facing and sharing best practices can only benefit to all and especially to the shippers. PGA and other associations in which we participate (Pharma Logistics Club in France) are a need in an ever so specific and complex supply chain.”

De Walle believes pharma by air will always exist and will increase over the coming years, though modal shift, more air cargo players and complex regulations are making the market very challenging and demanding.

She says: “We believe it cannot go without more certifications and compliancy towards Good Distribution Practices. We are preparing ourselves to improve and make our offer and product the more reliable and connectable possible.”