Transparency is fundamental to success

Jaisey Yip, General Manager, Cargo & Logistics Development, Changi International Airport and Emir Pineda, Manager Aviation Trade & Logistics, Miami International Airport, talk about the air cargo industry’s readiness in response to the needs of shippers and the transport of vaccines in optimal conditions to all corners of the globe.

Kalpana Lohumi

Q. How has the virus has impacted the air cargo supply chain of the pharmaceutical industry? What should be industry stakeholders’ strategy to ensure continuity of supply worldwide?

In the earlier months of the pandemic when China was under lockdown, we have witnessed supply disruptions in Active Pharma Ingredients (API), affecting the production of pharma drugs. This was a wake-up call for the pharma industry, as well as the logistics sector. When it comes to the air transportation of essential medical supplies, the air cargo industry was quick and committed to prioritise and facilitate such humanitarian shipments across the world.

In ensuring supply continuity, it is imperative that supply chain visibility, quality and reliability are embedded across the supply chain. This would require collaboration; different actors in the pharma supply chain would need to closely collaborate, harmonise standards as well as to jointly establish quality standards in order instill stronger agility within the supply chain network.

Q. What challenge do you see in the colossal task of moving vaccines worldwide?

A few months ago, when the advanced vaccine candidates were still in clinical stages, the lack of information and uncertainties on production timelines, volumes, trade lanes, transportation and storage requirements and product specificities, coupled with airfreight capacity crunch, increased exponentially the number of difficulties to address and plan for supply chain professionals. As vaccine distribution commences, another major challenge, which remains to be a concern, is the last mile delivery to clinics and vaccination centres in developing economies where accessibility and cool chain infrastructure is limited or absent.

Q. Could you please elaborate on how and why collaboration is crucial to overcome the supply chain challenges? How can it be achievable?

In achieving effective global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, creating transparency between the vaccines manufacturers and logistics industry is paramount. It is precisely why TIACA and Pharma.Aero are joining forces in Project Sunrays to provide the air cargo industry with clarity of the needs and expectations from vaccines manufacturers and better visibility on future COVID-19 vaccines supply chain specifications. Through Sunrays, we also aim to provide vaccines manufacturers and pharma shippers with more visibility on existing air cargo capabilities, as well as better understanding of constraints and needs from air cargo providers to serve them adequately.

Fostering effective communication and collaboration between vaccines manufacturers, shippers, and air cargo industry players will ensure that once the vaccine is available in the market, the air cargo industry is ready to respond to the needs of the shippers and transport vaccines in optimal conditions to all corners of the globe.

Q. According to you what are logistics service providers’ requirements from the shippers?

Based on our consultation with vaccines manufacturers, the top concerns could be summarised in four areas; speed, security, reliability and transparency.

Speed: Ensuring no unexpected delays in every supply chain touch point

Security: Ensuring that the shipment is transported with the highest security standards to mitigate counterfeits and theft

Reliability: Guaranteed delivery times maintaining the shipment integrity

Transparency: Real-time (or near real-time) tracking, monitoring and information sharing on shipment and alerts so that preventative actions can be undertaken; and there is relaible information on capabilities of logistics providers including each cargo facilities at transit and destination points.

Q. What difference can be observed in the pharma supply chain before and after the pandemic?

It is apparent that the success of pharma supply chain would depend on visibility, agility and resiliency. The demand for pharma products is expected to grow in the next two decades. In order to capture and maximise the opportunity, the entire network – right from manufacturing to the global distribution – will need to come together and work collaboratively to ensure that the sector remains strong and agile, providing quality products to patients in a timely manner.

Another major difference is the visibility and importance the world has given the pharma supply chain.  At no other time in history has the supply chain been so critical to the well-being of the entire world, with not only governments, the media and even the lay person now aware of the tremendous challenges the industry faces but also the companies, organisations and people providing the solutions to meet those challenges.