The aim is to be prepared for the upcoming avalanche of COVID-19 vaccines and enable all participants along the supply chain the secure and timely handling, transport, and delivery of the temperature-sensitive serums. Alarming figures tabled by TIACA and Pharma.Aero prove the necessity for close cooperation of the players involved to prevent major hiccups. Their joint survey reveals that only 28% of the industry believes it is sufficiently prepared for the challenging task.
Nightmare or bonanza? Both options are possible, argue some forwarders, ground handlers at airports, or sporadically also future suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines. Although the novel serums are not
yet available, the discussion within the cargo industry about these sensitive and lifesaving inoculation cultures reaches new peaks day after day, with BRU Airport being no exception.
This is explicable, since Brussels and the surrounding region have long been home to a large cluster of pharmaceutical manufacturers and suppliers, which also explains why the airport's cargo division was the world's first IATA-CEIV-certified unit, says Samuel Speltdoorn, Cargo Business Development Manager at Brussels Airport Company. “Belgium is a pharma hotspot, making it the second largest global exporter of vaccines,” states the manager.
In order to coordinate and fine-tune processes, BRUcargo has set up a BRUcure Taskforce charged with implementing standard procedures and developing compliance checks in consultation with pharma shippers. “Once accomplished, every player in the chain knows which requirements must be met when handling a COVID-19 vaccine shipment,” Mr. Speltdoorn states.
Common digital platform
All relevant consignment and handling data are channeled into a centralized platform accessible by all players involved. An application is under development for the BRUcloud digital platform which will make it possible to track any COVID-19 shipment in real time at any moment within the transport chain, reads a release.
To illustrate the complexity of the entire project, the manager speaks of a Greek temple, which, when completed, will stand on various foundations. These are the traceability of each consignment, a software solution called check-it that exists for ground processes at BRU Airport but is scheduled to be internationalized, allowing constant monitoring and validation of trade lanes or pro-active capacity planning, and last but not least, it includes concepts for enlarging the ground infrastructure at the cargo area of Brussel Airport.
The entire package is supported by Chairman David Bellon and his organization Air Cargo Belgium, which in turn is partially sponsored by the Belgian government. Further to this, the plans also provide for establishing a control tower to give shippers a central point of contact, a core feature of the upcoming taskforce.
BRUcargo emphasizes that it intends to share all relevant data with other airports to enhance processes along the supply chain and minimize errors as best as possible.
Wide range of actors
The BRUcure Taskforce, headed by Brussels Airport Company and Air Cargo Belgium, consists of a multitude of players, among them ground handling agents such as Swissport, dnata, or WFS, freight carriers like United Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo, Swiss WorldCargo, Qatar Airways Cargo, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Finnair, and forwarding agents like Hellmann, Kuehne + Nagel, Bollore, or DHL Global Forwarding, to name but a few. The University of Antwerp will back the project and fine-tune processes by providing scientific expertise.
We always welcome your comments to our articles. However, we can only publish them when the sender name is authentic.