It is the kind of email you like to receive in your inbox. After a lengthy validation process, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) congratulated Frank Raeckelboom, Panalpina’s Belgium head of quality, health, safety and environment, saying that the company’s business unit in Brussels had been recognized as CEIV Pharma Certified.
“Unlike the recent shattering news that came from Brussels International Airport Zaventem, this certification is definitely good news,” says Raeckelboom. “The certification is yet another proof of our excellent handling capabilities for pharmaceuticals and medical products here in Brussels.”
Brussels is Panalpina’s first station to have obtained this certificate, which is becoming the benchmark for air freight related cross-dock operations for healthcare products. The fully GDP (Good Distribution Practice) compliant and TAPA-A (Transported Asset Protection Association) certified facility is split into two main areas. An area of 940 m2, with a rack-storage capacity of 328 (Euro) pallets and an additional capacity of 450 pallets that can be placed on the floor, is dedicated to cargo that has to be kept at ‘Controlled Room Temperature’ between 15°C and 25°C. Cargo that needs to be kept at a temperature between 2°C and 8°C can be stored in a cold cell of 32 m2 with a storage capacity of 25 pallets.
“Our capabilities in Brussels and elsewhere in the world are not linked to the infrastructure alone,” says Jaime Aznar, Panalpina’s corporate healthcare quality assurance and regulatory manager. “Our customers can rely on our own trained and very experienced staff on-site. They oversee all operations and immediately intervene if necessary. Our processes are tried and tested.”
Two organizations have now certified Panalpina Brussels, where GDP compliant operations commenced in August 2012, from a healthcare perspective: Belgium’s Federal Agency of Medical and Health Products (FAMHP) and IATA. The CEIV Pharma standard encompasses, or even supersedes, many of the existing pharmaceutical standards.
“Our certifications give our healthcare customers assurance that we can safely handle their valuable and sensitive products, be it human or veterinarian finished products, active pharmaceutical ingredients or medical devices, in a manner that is fully compliant with the highest standards,” says Raeckelboom.
Many international pharmaceutical companies have head offices, production sites as well as research and development centers in or close to Brussels. They have told Panalpina that the recent events do not have any impact on the strategic importance of Brussels as a hub for pharmaceutical shipments by air.
No cargo infrastructure at Zaventem Airport was affected by the attacks in March, but operations were temporarily disrupted. Mark Guilliams, Panalpina’s business unit manager for Brussels explains: “We rerouted cargo to our Antwerp facility during the initial lock-down of the airport. By now operations have almost returned to normal, even though some airlines have yet to reach full capacity.”
Panalpina, present in Belgium since 1968, employs over 170 staff in Brussels, Antwerp and Liège.