Cool Chain

CCA2018: More infrastructure investment needed and a call to share information

“You are either in or you are out” of the air pharma supply chain, delegates were warned today at the Cool Chain Association’s (CCA) 6th Pharma & Biosciences Conference heard today in Brussels.

Panellists from across the logistics chain gave their thoughts on the sector today when they joined CCA chairman, Stavros Evangelakakis for a panel debate at the Sheraton Brussels Airport Hotel.

Former senior director and head of global transportation and logistics at TEVA Pharmaceuticals, Yoram Eshel had some strong words for stakeholders.

He said they must invest in the vertical and cannot be part in, and part out and they must commit, including building the right infrastructure needed to meet the needs and demands of the sector.

Eshel believes the pharma supply chain is working towards more advanced solutions like Amazon but says companies must invest more in physical infrastructure.

“If you want to work with the pharma industry it is a must. If you do have the right infrastructure you are out of the business. For me you are either there or you are out,” he said.

A challenge across the air pharma supply chain is that dedicated facilities are not up to the required standards across the globe as while Europe has the latest temperature-controlled facilities, there has not been the same investments in other corners of the globe.

Evangelakakis said from his experience working as Cargolux Airlines global product manager, it can be challenging as the needed pharma facilities are not in place at airports in the USA for example, and many countries across Africa and Asia and he says more investment is required.

He gave examples where Cargolux has wanted to fly freighters transporting pharma shipments to a station but there was not the required infrastructure to cope with the specific needs of the goods.

Eshel feels that air cargo is doing a better job in meeting the needs of pharma shippers’, but more work is needed. “We are doing much better in each of our areas (airports, airlines, cargo handlers, freight forwarders), but there is still not the chain.”

He puts much of this down to the lack of information sharing in the air pharma supply chain from the shipper through to the airline, which in his opinion is critical.

“We are not good at sharing information. Airlines do not want to, pharma shippers do not want to, forwarders do not want to and it is not a chain yet,” he says.

“I think sharing data (in the supply chain) is so important and a critical point,” Eshel says. “Share information and do not be afraid to share it. It is our information. It is the same chain.”

His thoughts were echoed by Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) vice president of business planning, Rinzing Wangyal who believes the chain for pharma is very important in the air cargo industry along with high visibility of information as this can boost operational performance and efficiency.

The last mile for pharma was also discussed and is something which is set to grow in future as new models continue to disrupt and expand, but UPS Europe vice president of healthcare, Niels van Namen pointed out there is no last mile without the first 10,000 miles.

He also encouraged the air pharma supply chain to continue to make financial investments in technology and IT solutions.

The CCA’s 6th Pharma & Biosciences Conference finishes this afternoon in Brussels.