Cool Runs Hot at LH Cargo

Temperature controlled products have developed into important growth drivers of Lufthansa Cargo’s sales. Their rising importance is the result of a long-term strategy by the management and large investments in infrastructure and personnel.

DoKaSch cool containers utilized by LH Cargo for pharma transports document permanently key parameters like internal and external temperatures  /  source: hs
DoKaSch cool containers utilized by LH Cargo for pharma transports document permanently key parameters like internal and external temperatures / source: hs

Karin Krestan puts it straight: “Cool shipments are a gem within our product portfolio.” This emphasizes the carrier’s ‎Head of Process & Operations Lufthansa Cargo Cool Center, while presenting visitors all corners and angles of his large facility located at Frankfurt’s Cargo City North during a guided tour.

Mishandling of cool products can cost huge money
Its center piece is the handling complex for pharmaceuticals where all staff is wearing suitable clothing to keep them warm during their entire working shift. “We run different parts of this specific warehouse at different temperature ranges,” assures Krestan, which explains the warm clothing some of the people are wearing. A must, since a lot of pharma items have to be transported, handled and stored at temperatures ranging from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius. Should they be exposed to greater temperature fluctuations they would spoil quickly which would cause an enormous financial damage and could damage the reputation of LH Cargo as reliable carrier.

Samples are constantly monitored by temperature loggers
Particularly challenging in handling and packaging is – among some other items – blood plasma, states the manager. The temperature within their special insulation boxes has to be kept at a constant temperature of -18 degrees Celsius. Each of these shipments is equipped with a temperature logger that monitors temperature fluctuations very efficiently, records all data, thus functioning as supply chain tracking tool. All data can be transmitted to a USB stick and presented health inspectors right on the spot.

Active transport solutions are one option
To accommodate cool products according to individual need the airline has purchased 400 special containers developed by producer DoKaSch.  Among them are 100 so called Opticoolers, sophisticated boxes, worth €78,000 each, equipped with four compressors each, offer up to 100 hours of constant temperature in their interior. “Instead of filling them up with dry ice we just need a socket to plug in their charger cable to repower them. It’s as easy as that,” applauds Karin.
In addition, LH Cargo also uses cool container units of Swedish producer Envirotainer and C-Safe RKN Containers, according to the motto: it’s not very smart to put all eggs in only one basket.

Karin Krestan
Karin Krestan

Passive cooling gains ground very fast
A second way to guarantee the required temperatures in a cool chain is using passive cooling packaging. In difference to the active system it’s the insulation material used that counts to prevent any temperature fluctuations. According to manager Krestan this segment is growing faster than the active offerings. 
“As in the years before, temperature sensitive items in general have again seen a double digit increase in 2014,” states Krestan, be it pharmaceuticals, vaccines and specific health care products.

Well trained personnel is a decisive factor for providing prime quality
Each of these items require specific transportation and handling standards that must be strictly observed by the personnel. “That’s why all our employees working here at the Competence Center have undergone a demanding ten day lasting training course to best qualify them for their specific tasks,” explains Karin Krestan. While most of the high-value goods are still flown to consignees located in North America, the share of products destined to clients in Latin American and East Asian emerging markets is growing fast, Karin confirms. There, the buying power is increasing rapidly as result of the widening middle classes. 
Currently, transits account for 70 percent of all temperature sensitive products handled and flown by LH Cargo. Imports into and exports from Germany represent a share of roughly 15 percent each.

Heiner Siegmund

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