In the Port of Antwerp Panalpina has upgraded its existing warehouse to a GDP certified pharma centre. “Both projects are related,” says country manager Bruno Jacques. “That’s where we as Panalpina can make a difference for our customers. Our experts across all functions, from air and ocean freight to logistics and sales, can help healthcare companies turn their supply chains into a competitive advantage.”
With the Antwerp facility, the group wants to accommodate customers wishing to substitute air cargo with the ocean mode. However, air cargo will also still be handled there also.
In Antwerp the bonded transit warehouse accommodates two separate areas where temperature sensitive goods can be stored in different temperature zones, resembling their Brussels facility. Should demand pick up as anticipated, this 1,600 m² facility too can be immediately extended by more than 10,000 m2. Panalpina has already worked out respective plans and agreements with its local partner.
Modal shift is there
The upgrading operation of the Port of Antwerp facility into this GDP certified pharma centre, reflects modal shift, says Andreas Sahli . “Healthcare companies are shifting more and more cargo from air to ocean freight, or combining the two modes of transportation to optimize their supply chains. They are looking at the transport rates. So it makes perfect sense to not only have a specialized pharma centre in a port, but in particular in this port, where it becomes an integral part of our healthcare excellence network and our very broad, high-quality service offering in the region. The customers do not have to fear any disruption within the cool chain. It is easier to monitor temperature control in sea freight than in air cargo.”
In this assessment, Andreas is right, says Rob Dekker, who heads Global Logistics and Distribution at GE Healthcare in Eindhoven (Netherlands). “Air cargo may be ten times more expensive than sea freight. AT GE Healthcare, we have two types of products: radioactive and so-called ‘contrasts’. For the first category we are forced to go by air, but for the second one we try to ship as much as possible by sea from our production plant in Eindhoven.”
Romain Schollaert, Head EMEA Transport & Logistics at Baxter in Lessines, confirms the trend for a modal shift form air to sea in the healthcare industry. Apart from the price difference, there is also a growing demand for green logistics, he says. So far Baxter has not taken to the seas, even if it is being considered. “We are looking for logistics providers able to offer GDP services”, says Romain. “In our case we are talking mostly about medical devices, but we also have a smaller range that had to be transported between +2° and +25° C.”
Airfreight centre within a seaport
Yet, even if the main role of the Antwerp pharma centre is in the consolidation and de-consolidation of sea freight traffic, it will play a role in the air cargo consignments as well. It is the only one within the Port of Antwerp which is listed in the European RAKC (Regulated Agents and Known Consignors) database as a certified agent for the handling of secured air freight shipments. This means that combined sea-air shipments can be organized without interrupting or compromising the secure and cold supply chain.
Besides, the Antwerp facility is located right in the middle of Panalpina’s major European healthcare hubs Amsterdam, Brussels and Luxembourg, says Stephan Van Laer, Global Key Account Manager Industry Vertical Healthcare.
“Roughly speaking everything that is 100% airfreight, will be handled at Brucargo”, says Bruno. “If there is a mix of air and sea consignments, it will be in Antwerp. In the end it is the shipper who will decide on the preferred mode, he adds. “One of our strengths is that everything is kept within a secured environment.”
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels