Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Keeping it cool

Keeping it cool

Over the past few years, the cool chain for pharma has evolved in four very different, yet important ways: There is more focus on regulatory requirements and their compliance; advanced monitoring and tracking technologies are the norm and being automated; diversification of transport modes and routes to spread the risk; and there is a greater focus on environmental responsibility.

Anticipating continued growth in the pharmaceutical market, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo has expanded its cool chain facilities at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), bringing their total temperature-sensitive facilities across both CDG and Amsterdam’s Schiphol (AMS) hubs to well above 20,000 m3. Processes at CDG have also been streamlined to reduce lead times and guarantee the cool chain.

CEIV recertification in 2024 for both of AFKLMP Cargo’s airlines and hubs reflects the carrier’s commitment and compliance with industry standards. Real-time insights into pharmaceutical shipments are being realised with advancing capabilities in digitalisation and automation. 

“Air France KLM Martinair Cargo has seen notable growth of 9% for temperature- sensitive cargo. This is in line with broader industry trends,” Lauren Stolt – Global Head of Pharmaceutical Logistics at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo, stated. 

“Globally, the pharmaceutical cold chain logistics has grown six to seven percent annually and is set to continue this trend for at least the next five years. This is above the average airfreight cargo figure of three to four percent.”

READ: Air France KLM Martinair Cargo and GTS Group extend SAF collaboration

Enhancing facilities

AFKLMP Cargo is investing in facilities and technology to ensure the integrity of temperature-sensitive cargo throughout the supply chain, bolstering reliability and compliance. 

“To be honest, the customer expectations in this sector have always been extremely high,” Stolt stated.

“AFKLMP Cargo prides itself on being one of the leaders as we can change and adapt, but also because we have a century’s worth of experience in meeting our customers’ expectations. Our temperature-sensitive products are reliable, transparent, and flexible.”

With that in mind, the airline seeks to prioritise customer-centric solutions, offering tailored services to meet customers’ specific needs. By leveraging its extensive global network and operational expertise, AFKLMP Cargo works to provide seamless transportation solutions for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies.

“We are diversifying our product offer to ensure a better fit to customer needs. In 2023 we have introduced our Plus service level across our cargo offering, aimed at the highest value and sensitive cargo, and providing the highest priority in case of unforeseen circumstances, “Stolt continued. 

“On top of that, we offer our extended room temperature service level (2-25), offering Pharma service at a competitive price level for those shipments that have advanced thermal insulation. 

“On the operations side, we have just expanded our Paris hub with an additional 60 ULD cool cell capacity, divided between 2-8°C & 15-25°C temperature control, as well as replacing our legacy IT systems with the industry-leading iCargo. Finally, we are adding live ULD tracking through our partner SkyCell.”

READ: Eco-friendly activities in operation

Evolving sector

The need for more data points in the shipping chain will increase as demand for tracking and measuring cold chain movements grows. Therefore, AFKLMP Cargo expects the growth of data-informed software platforms supported through mobile apps.  

The cool chain will see strong growth in cell and gene therapies and further drive new ways of shipping within the cool chain. 

The carrier anticipates a shift towards “no temperature control” pharma shipments due to more advanced packaging and stable final products.

AFKLMP Cargo also expects to see a continuous struggle with customers wanting to make a coherent risk profile for their transport while a large variation of metric definitions is used in the industry. 

“We have really seen a shift to our customers demanding real-time visibility on their shipments, both with regards to cool-chain status and location of shipments,” Stolt highlighted. 

“For this, a combination of third-party (active) tracking devices and our supplied real-time updates on myCargo are used. For the former use case, we are actively updating our approved tracking devices based on customer demand, while for the latter we are continuously updating our functionalities in the platform. 

“The latest update being the integration of Envirotainer’s tracking data with our cloud.”

Picture of Edward Hardy

Edward Hardy

Having become a journalist after university, Edward Hardy has been a reporter and editor at some of the world's leading publications and news sites. In 2022, he became Air Cargo Week's Editor. Got news to share? Contact me on


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