The emerging ocean option for pharmaceuticals logistics

By: | Issue #645 | at 08:27 AM | Channel(s): Liner Shipping  

The emerging ocean option for pharmaceuticals logistics

Availability of equipment and infrastructure is key.

In early 2015, the Israeli ocean carrier ZIM Integrated Shipping Services launched its ZIMonitor product, which allows shippers to track, monitor and remotely control sensitive, high-value cargo stowed in refrigerated containers. Following a pilot project with Teva-Pharmaceutical Industries, a US-Israeli company known for developing and marketing generic drugs, the carrier, in late 2015, announced the addition of some 1,900 reefers to its container fleet.

Equipment Challenge

That development was emblematic of the efforts required in the quest to find less-expensive transportation alternatives for high-value pharmaceutical and healthcare product shipments. It’s an issue that has been on the industry radar screen since at least 2015, when a working group was formed to find solutions to the needs of pharmaceuticals shippers. One of the key findings of the final report of the Pharma Sea Freight Working Group, released in December 2016, was that the availability of reefers and other equipment and infrastructure was a challenge that needed to be addressed, especially in the emerging markets that are the fastest-growing purchasers of pharmaceuticals and healthcare products.

Temperature controlled logistics is perhaps the fastest growing segment of the industry and the pharmaceuticals and healthcare sector are one big reason for that. Pharmaceuticals companies around the world increasingly strive to develop a global reach in terms of the markets they serve as well as in the locations of their production facilities. The developing world is a fast-growing consumer of healthcare products, and the number and level of logistics services focused on those areas of the globe are likewise growing.

Pharmaceuticals and healthcare products often require temperature controls during transit and handling. That fact, and considering the time-sensitive nature of many products and scenarios, often made air freight the default option for getting these specialized goods to their destinations.

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Peter Buxbaum's avatar

American Journal of Transportation

More on Peter Buxbaum

Peter Buxbaum has been writing about international trade and transportation, as well as security, defense, technology, and foreign policy, for over 20 years. Besides contributing to the AJOT, Buxbaum's work has appeared in such leading publications as Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Computerworld, and Jane's Defence Weekly. He was educated at Columbia University.