TIACA and Pharma.Aero hosted a joint webinar on 04MAR21, to give an update on Project SUNRAYS; the initiative that was kicked off mid last year, to bring pharma shippers and the air cargo industry together to face the Covid-19 distribution challenge. Introduced by TIACA’s new and first Director General, Glyn Hughes, who took up his post in FEB21, it showcased voices from the industry and outlined the findings so far.
The SUNRAYS project published its second White Paper early last month, and Frank van Gelder recalled the four major key factors in accomplishing the “most impacting challenge of the past 70
years” of air freight history.
“It was clear from the beginning of our talks with the Pharma industry, that failure was not an option, and there would be no room for any amateurism from the sector.”
He pointed to the positive strong point of the cargo industry flexibly switching to “new normal” almost overnight and coming up with “solid solutions” in an environment where “global capacity was under tremendous pressure.”
Four key requirements
“It was clear that four major key factors would drive the entire challenge of transporting these vaccines.” They are
- Speed – referring to “timely and accurate booking, good planning, sharp transit times, well-managed and prioritized shipments, with no room for delays,"
- Security – both in terms of guaranteeing product condition as well as shipment safety,
- Reliability – being ready and able to correctly deliver on shipment requirements and promises, and
- Transparency – ensuring access to real-time temperature, geo-monitoring, and communication, through digitalization which, meanwhile, “had become a must.”
Communication as the ultimate factor
Not only the findings from the White Paper, where Frank van Gelder confirmed that air cargo communities (airports, airlines, handlers, etc.) as well as public bordering customs agencies, governmental bodies, and authorities, were all working together to prepare for and meet those four major concerns from the pharma industry, but also each of the 11 speakers in the webinar all stressed the importance of clear, timely, and open communication.
So much so, Glyn Hughes summarized the webinar as having “reinforced the need for three strong Cs: you build a Community, you have transparent Communication, and it is only though that activity that you then can truly Collaborate together, and it is Collaboration which is going to be critical when it comes to moving vaccines, but it is also how we should be doing business anyway, going forward.”
Air cargo well prepared – the challenge is in the last mile
Four Task Force air cargo communities in MIA, SIN, BRU and YEG shared the best practices and lessons learned during the set-up and implementation of their joint activities in the paper, and three representatives from the airline (Carlton Llewellyn for Polar Air Cargo), ground handling (Paul Cheng for HACTL9), and airport (Emir Pineda for Miami Airport) factions gave their perspectives during the webinar. The overall message: communication leads to trust and being able to go in depth into a SWOT analysis at each destination, uncovering weak links (such as no local dry ice provider in the entire state of Florida!), preparing optimum processes (such as the shortest route over hot tarmac and ensuring a sheltered area in Hong Kong), along with adapting to pandemic requirements (Polar Air Cargo illustrated the many hygiene procedures its staff now adhered to).
Local air cargo communities are key to success, since not only collaboration in ensuring all the required equipment and facilities are available, but also awareness and preparation for unexpected circumstances, are vital.
In response to Steven Polmans’ question as to how ready the air cargo industry was on a scale of one to ten, Nathan de Valck (Brussels Airport) answered that “on the main cargo routes, we are very well prepared - I’d say 9 out of 10. The challenge is in the more remote areas and definitely on the last mile”. A view shared by the other panelists.
Aim for great instead of good!
The three strong Cs which should continue to form the basis for business after the pandemic could be seen as a “silver lining” to the Covid-19 pandemic, Glyn Hughes pointed out. Nathan de Valck urged the industry to “instead of just aiming for good, aim for great with your community. Make sure that you use this moment of global crisis as an opportunity to push some changes forward, to push innovation, and convince your community to take those steps that perhaps a year ago were difficult to take” referring to digitizing the whole supply chain.
Jaisey Yip (Changi Airport) underlined that it is “not too late to start your own cargo community with a common goal and objectives,” making sure to “be inclusive” and have all stakeholders on board, and Trevor Caswell (Edmonton Airport) advised listeners to “trust your supply chain partners, share good practices, good information, and lessons learned. Open the dialogue!”
Thus was the summary of the first Covid-19 vaccine topic webinar CFG participated in where communication bore much a far greater weight than temperature-integrity.
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