Schiphol targets more pharma community members

Schiphol Cargo

Pharma Gateway Amsterdam (PGA) is looking to add members to further improve cooperation, collaboration and transparency in the pharma supply chain at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

AirBridgeCargo Airlines was the latest to join last month and the second airline to sign up to the 14-member quality pharma initiative, which was set-up in March 2016.

Head of cargo, Jonas van Stekelenburg (pictured left), expects a few more “big players” to join in the coming months and widening the membership is a key priority. “We aim to substantially increase the number of participants: the more Schiphol players focused on quality and transparency, the better it gets.

“Furthermore, we aim for everyone to obtain their IATA CEIV Pharma certification (or comparable quality standard) as quickly as possible. With this, everyone talks the same language and we can cooperate in more areas of the pharma logistics chain,” van Stekelenburg says.

PGA has recently started an early warning project for pharma shippers, which will help move cargo more quickly and safely through Amsterdam and it received a €1 million research grant, which will fund data collection and monitoring PGA shipments to identify changes, such as temperature incursions.

“This data will then be used to design a model to alert shippers to issues with their consignment. With this project, we aim to add something valuable that wasn’t there before,” van Stekelenburg explains.

In the first five months of 2017, Schiphol has seen pharma cargo grow by 8.5 per cent, although this is more or less the same growth as general cargo.

This is more than it expected according to van Stekelenburg, but growth numbers were not the primary focus and this year the emphasis has been on enhancement of quality and service.

And it has been busy attracting more members, getting more (CEIV or other) quality training for community members, supporting projects to improve quality and transparency of the pharma logistics chain, and supporting community players in attracting more business.

All carriers at Schiphol are driving pharma traffic van Stekelenburg says, but the key trade lanes are to and from the US, while Europe he notes is exporting a lot to Asia.

He says: “All this traffic is going for the most part via Schiphol. This is not different to other airfreight: within Europe we truck cargo and outside Europe cargo is flown. Schiphol is known for its quality and efficient handling, and has the most direct destinations in the world. This is unprecedented and exactly what pharma wants: flown as direct as possible.”

PGA has had an impact on pharma traffic in van Stekelenburg’s view: “PGA participants all boosted the quality and the transparency of their operations. The community approach all kick started this – we collectively procured the training.

“Furthermore, we worked together in getting an even better cooperation with Customs and in getting the message out. This all resulted – as we heard back from PGA participants – in higher customer satisfaction and more business.”