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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

Hurdles in Cold Chain

One of the least known but most important aspects of the airfreight cold chain is airport ground handling. This provides the vital interface between airlines that carry temperaturecritical products and local ground transportation. Increasingly, ground handling is well resourced and carefully regulated, but that’s not the case everywhere in the world, and forwardthinking handlers and airports are trying to set examples that others will follow, recognising that the airfreight cold chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

It has been many years since the air cargo industry first started carrying temperature-critical pharmaceutical and life sciences shipments and, like so many other areas of business, it has been a steep learning curve that has driven innovation, the adoption of new technology, demand for higher standards, and greatly increased scrutiny.

The great advantage of airfreight is, of course, speed. With the ready availability of non-stop flights on every major world trade lane today, it’s commonplace for an airfreight shipment to take no more than a day to cross the world – which is an appealing proposition for maintaining condition, achieving tight deadlines, and reducing capital tied up in inventory in transit.

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About the author

Paul Cheng is General Manager of Service Delivery at Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl), managing operations at the largest single general air cargo handling facility in the world. An increasing proportion of Hactl’s traffic is temperaturecritical pharmaceuticals, as well as large volumes of perishables that require similar special handling facilities and processes. Hactl is widely recognised as a leader in its industry and is regularly involved in the formulation of new standards, working in conjunction with industry and regulatory bodies.

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