Shippers are demanding more transparency in pharmaceutical cargo, meaning forwarders are using specialist handling codes, Schiphol Cargo director business development, Ferry van der Ent (pictured) tells Air Cargo Week (ACW).
He says it was common for forwarders to book pharma as general cargo in the past but they are having to use specialist handling codes more frequently as shippers are demanding more transparency, such as seeing temperature excursions, including where and when they happened. He explains the growth in pharma cargo is not necessarily down to more shipments but increased use of specialist handling codes.
Van der Ent predicts pharma will grow 20 per cent in the coming years, backed by Seabury predicting 4-5 per cent growth annually.
Schiphol handling 70,000 tonnes of pharma cargo in 2016, and van der Ent says aviation will have to work hard to keep growing. He says: “Cool pharma is increasing significantly faster than non-cool pharma, making ambiance measurement critical, and we need to be able to prove our capabilities.”
Van der Ent is also project manager for Pharma Gateway Amsterdam, a programme to make the Schiphol pharma chain fully IATA CEIV Pharma-certified. It was launched in March 2016, and van der Ent is very happy with the progress so far, telling ACW: “I am encouraged every day I work with Pharma Gateway Amsterdam to see how our initiatives are helping to demonstrate the quality that the air cargo industry adds to the pharma shipment process.”
So far 13 companies including airlines, handlers, hauliers and logistics service providers have signed joined and a number have been improving facilities. He says handlers added 5,000 square metres of cool facilities, while Yusen Logistics, DHL and Kuehne + Nagel have all added dedicated pharma facilities.
Van der Ent says: “Looking at the total square metres of facilities we now have, it’s clear we have the capabilities to handle high volumes of pharma shipments with ease, without compromising on quality of service.”
The companies involved are also benefitting, he says: “I have heard first hand from two or three partners that their certification has brought them new business, and put them on the trusted lists of several more shippers. The next step is to monitor how much additional volume that brings them.”
Van der Ent adds the key is customer confidence from the shipper and manufacturer, saying: “By certifying the process, the shipper knows we are working to a quality stream to minimise risk.”