Transparency across the supply chain is improving

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Fabrizio Iacobacci, head of pharma business development at BCube Air Cargo

The air cargo industry has become more transparent according to Fabrizio Iacobacci, head of pharma business development at BCube Air Cargo and Cool Chain Association board member.

He admits that air cargo’s share of the global market to transport pharmaceuticals is under pressure, having lost a significant market share to other modes where fewer products were getting damaged.

Iacobacci says producers are more aware of the advantages of the air cargo supply chain and the level of quality they can receive. The industry is reaching the reliability that producers demand and is not afraid to show it.

Iacobacci says: “We are able to demonstrate this by inviting them and also freight forwarders to site visits at our airports to audit or visit our facilities.” Pharmaceuticals are not your typical air cargo, and they require specialist handling.

Iacobacci says: “Level of competence can only be developed by maintaining a high level of investment and training and ensuring that all parts of the supply chain follow the technical and quality requirements set down by the producers.”

Iacobacci says that landside, the industry needs to make sure that all transit points on the route have the same level of quality and reliability.

He says: “If we consider the number of International Air Transport Association CEIV Pharma initiatives which exist today compared to just five years ago, you get an idea of how the air cargo industry is aware of the need to improve and is working on it accordingly.”

When it comes to airside operations, Iacobacci says the industry needs to better mitigate the temperature exposure risks on the tarmac or during the flight.

He says: “The technical/operational solutions are already there (i.e. refrigerated dollies or trucks for tarmac) and under research and study for some others (i.e. aircraft holds mapping).”

The Cool Chain Association was founded in 2003 and works on the ground doing field studies, implementing quality standards, and promoting collaboration and education among members and stakeholders through international conferences.

The association will be holding a conference in Venlo, the Netherlands focusing on food waste on 14-15 May, and will host a pharma event in Paris, France this November.

Cool Chain Association members and directors are industry professionals who live and breathe air cargo, so sitting around and complaining that things are not good enough is not something they are prepared to do.

As an example, the association is looking at the standards for transporting perishables. Iacobacci says the criteria is as important for asparagus as it is for anti-cancer drugs.

He says: “Our approach is the same: we need first to study a process, understand the gaps and actively and pragmatically promote solutions.”