Perishables Cool Center at FRA Has Come Under Fire

Shortage of transport equipment, personnel shortfalls and stranded shipments queued up on the apron outside the building before the temperature sensitive goods were able to enter the Perishable Center Frankfurt (PCF). Alarming allegations made by local forwarding agents, who reacted annoyed about these obvious shortcomings.

PCF Chief Rainer Wittenfeld
PCF Chief Rainer Wittenfeld

When CargoForwarder Global confronted PCF Managing Director Rainer Wittenfeld with these complaints, he spoke of a “unique case happening on a single Sunday.” Even so, it’s a dark stain in the history of the first Perishable Center built at a European airport, that emphasizes its high performance and reliability on any occasion, as is assured on their website: “Product quality is retained by ensuring a continuous cold chain and minimizing transport times.”

Reality vs. slogan
The reason for the trailers recently lining up for some hours outside of the PCF warehouse, fully loaded with temp critical fresh produce, was a massive inflow of goods within a very short period, Wittenfeld states. This led to a three to four hour delay in acceptance, followed be deconsolidation, sorting and ground handling processes before the staff managed to hand over the imports to trucking companies for onward transportation.    

Rerouting of perishables
Despite the manager’s reassuring words, there are a number of clients that have decided to reroute some of their perishables, circumventing Frankfurt’s cool facility and utilizing Luxembourg Airport or Paris CDG. Hellmann Worldwide Logistics confirmed the LUX case to CargoForwarder Global, while Frankfurt-based Sotracom Air Transit is said to be sending some of their temp critical products increasingly via Paris Roissy, Frankfurt sources confirmed upon inquiry. 
When confronting PCF Chief Wittenfeld with these facts brought forward by critics and the factual loss of business his Center has suffered lately, he didn’t excuse any mishaps but pointed out the dependency of the PCF on external circumstances. “Freighters can arrive late, traffic congestions or disruptions happen caused by unfavourable weather conditions or strike situations.” All this, particularly when unpredictable and thus not foreseen, affect the staff planning and the workflows within his Center.

No more snow shoveling
A former source of interference to shipments has now been eliminated once and for good: the withdrawal of some of Fraport’s ground handling staff from PCF supply duties for snow cleaning reasons within the airport area. Due to the temporary manpower shortage in case of heavy snowfall, the transfer of perishables between the aircraft stand and the PCF had been disrupted in the past or at least had caused occasional delays.
Following a reorganization of airport operator Fraport’s ground workers this source of casual impairment has meanwhile been abolished.  
Herr Wittenfeld wraps up: “We have talked to all parties involved, including vets, customs, airlines and others that the hiccups occurred must remain an exception.” He adds to this that stiff measures were taken to ensure a consistent high quality of the PCF 24/7/365.

Heiner Siegmund

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