More transparency and collaboration needed in the cool chain

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Pertinent issues in the cool chain sector came under the spotlight at the Cool Chain Association’s (CCA) 4th Pharma and Biosciences Conference in Dubai from 19-20 September.

Delegates at the JW Marriott Marquis heard from a range of speakers during the two-day event with much debate focusing on the need for transparency and collaboration in the air cargo supply chain for cool chain shipments.

CCA chairman, Sebastiaan Scholte opened by urging more transparency: “If you look across the supply chain we all like to blame each other and when shipments are lost – it is the customers’ fault or it is the airline’s fault – it is always someone else to blame.”

The chief executive officer (CEO) of Jan de Rijk Logistics, added: “If we open up we not be afraid to be blamed. We should be open about it and we have to have an open discussion.

“We need more a collective trust in the air cargo supply chain.”

The panel discussion on the first morning saw focusing on addressing the temperature challenge with panelists from different parts of the supply chain giving their views.

On a positive note, in the view of Expeditors global director for healthcare, Andrew Lester airlines are “far more sophisticated” in handling cool chain goods than their sea freight counterparts.

However, Lester also said he felt there was still an issue with “who talks to who” in the air cargo chain while there also needs to more communication within the chain.

There was a general consensus that the most difficult part for air cargo in cool chain shipping is the destination of goods. Speaking from the floor, Cargolux’s global product manager for healthcare and perishables, Stavros Evangelakakis and CCA board member, said there should be more time spent thinking about the destination.

He explained: “Sometimes the requirements are so high, but we cannot fulfill – like into some parts of Africa for vaccines etc. We still have the same problems with destination. There are many airports that do not have GDP and CEIV and we are lucky if we have cargo handling, but the goods still need to be shipped there.”

Evangelakakis also said the headache of shippers in the past is airlines made promises they cannot keep, while he also pointed out pharma is important, but so are perishables: “Should I stop bringing perishables because there is not as much yields as pharma?”

From the shippers’ perspective was Johnson & Johnson senior manager for temperature control in EMEA, Gino Vleugels who was a panelist, and called for the supply chain to work together more and urged more dialogue with shippers from forwarders and airlines.

And Karavan Consulting CEO, Therese Puetz who was also a panelist, said collaboration was “the key” to a better cool chain along with taking the “community approach”.

Lester agreed it was all about more collaboration: “We have to collaborate to ensure we talk. And everyone has to take responsibility (for their roles) in the supply chain.”