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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Big Change in the Cold Chain

PMPS: Pharmaceutical logistics have come under huge pressure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you feel the industry as a whole has dealt with the situation?

Marcel Kuijn: The outbreak of the pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the industry. From one day to the other, airlines had to ground almost their entire passenger fleet and crucial logistical flows came to a halt. Immediately, you saw that the industry started to look for alternative solutions. On the airline side, this meant flying passenger aircrafts only with cargo, carrying cargo in cabin, and/or converting passenger aircraft to freighters. The industry has shown significant agility and creativity, but it has also put pressure on the teams. They have had to work hard to make this happen, and often in difficult circumstances due to the restrictions in place.

an airline was that the quantity of dry ice used for the vaccine transport was higher than what we normally see. This meant that we had to make sure that we could transport large quantities in a safe way, whereby the sublimation rate of dry ice was a key factor.

Deciding between dry ice and other cold chain solutions has been a talking point during the pandemic, what are the benefits of using these methods for air cargo?

We have seen that, for the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines, a range of cold chain solutions are being used from 2-8°C temperature-controlled products to active and hybrid containers and dry ice. The deep-frozen temperatures required for some of the vaccines meant that there were not any other options than dry ice. Dry ice is a dangerous good, and requires specific measures to ensure safety on the ground and in the air. The main challenge we had to work on as an airline was that the quantity of dry ice used for the vaccine transport was higher than what we normally see. This meant that we had to make sure that we could transport large quantities in a safe way, whereby the sublimation rate of dry ice was a key factor.

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Marcel Kuijn has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He joined KLM in 2002 and gained commercial and operational experience in various managerial positions at KLM, Air France-KLM, and its Cargo division. Marcel joined Cargo in 2016 as Director of Pricing. In his current position, Marcel is responsible worldwide for the pharmaceutical business at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo. He previously held positions at various passenger division departments, including Digital Marketing and Global Account Management. Before joining Cargo in 2016, he was Commercial Director of South America for Air France-KLM.
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