UPS is providing solutions to pharma customers across Limburg in the Netherlands to address the logistics challenges and complex regulations in the healthcare industry.
Limburg is the home of UPS’s European healthcare distribution campus, which has more than 70,000 square metres of dedicated healthcare logistics space serving the region’s medical cluster. Across Europe, UPS operates 15 dedicated healthcare facilities covering more than 150,000 square metres in Italy, Spain, Hungary, Poland and the UK.
The Netherlands, Limburg in particular has a number of advantages. UPS marketing manager, Jan Denecker tells Air Cargo Week (ACW): “The country’s great infrastructure, highly-educated workforce and connectivity to major transportation hubs make it the ideal location for our healthcare campus. For example, the one hour of trucking from the UPS European air hub in Cologne/Bonn enables late order cut-off times.”
Its central location in Western Europe also makes it a critical location to serve the industry and reach more than 80 per cent of the healthcare market in a 1,000-kilometre radius.
Denecker says UPS focuses on integrated healthcare logistics across airfreight, warehousing, distribution, labelling and packaging, parcel delivery and ground freight services, as well as enhancing service, compliance and control.
He says: “We also have more than 600,000 square metres of dedicated healthcare distribution space around the world, highly trained healthcare logistics personnel, and dedicated services to protect healthcare products during transit.”
UPS works with numerous healthcare companies across the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device and supply sectors. Products range from high value, speciality pharmaceutical products to in vitro diagnostics to medical devices.
One company that has operations in Limburg is medical device company Boston Scientific, taking advantage of its central position between three hubs of the main express carriers in Europe.
Vice president of global customer services and supply chain in Europe, Hans Willems tells ACW: “Besides this, the central location in continental Europe makes is possible within a range of 1,000 km to reach a huge part of the hospitals by road within 24 hours.”
He adds: “We ship over 10 million devices per year to hospitals in Europe and outside Europe distributors / distribution centres. This equals between 4,000-5,000 shipping boxes per day out of Kerkrade, our main Tier 1 distribution centre in Europe.”
One of the complaints among pharmaceutical and medical companies is the quality of service across the air cargo supply chain. Airports within Limburg’s catchment area have been working hard on improving services with IATA CEIV Pharma being embraced across the region.
Willems comments: “Certifying supply chains by airport communities and air cargo industry is always positive, also for medical devices.”
Communication has also been an issue, though Willems says: “There is a healthcare logistics platform (HLF), with members of medical device industries and pharma companies from Limburg, who address these issues to the air cargo community.”
UPS has been working on improving services to reduce the chance of products getting damaged. The growth of temperature-sensitive biopharmaceuticals and personalised medicines is changing the landscape and increasing demand for temperature-controlled solutions and in-transit intervention services.
Denecker says UPS has developed a suite of solutions for temperature sensitive shipments called UPS Temperature True. It offers a portfolio of thermal packaging, proactive monitoring and intervention services, temperature controlled storage, risk management and contingency planning solutions to protect products through the supply chain including parcels and multimodal freight services.
UPS Proactive Response Secure has been developed for sensitive parcel shipments, with Denecker commenting: “This is a solution combining shipment monitoring and risk management to mitigate product spoilage and protect revenue for high-value, time- and temperature-sensitive shipments. The service helps critical shipments reach their destinations even if unexpected events occur and covers potential losses if products are damaged or spoiled.”
He says if milestones are missed, UPS will respond automatically according to predefined instructions to get packages back on track. The service covers any charges needed for intervention including pre-arranged procedures to maintain temperatures or expedited same-day deliveries.
An issue facing the healthcare industry is the pressure to lower costs. Denecker says healthcare costs are growing nine per cent annually.
He says: “With these cost pressures come the need for greater efficiencies, specifically in supply chain. UPS’s smart global logistics network offers a wide range of modes of transport, whether air, ocean or road that meet any needs of our healthcare customers.”