DHL enhances life sciences transportation services; pushes for attracting a bigger portion of global transportation business

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - January/February 2011

Regional centers are obtaining QEP accreditation for cold-chain management; more dedicated life-sciences competency centers; and plans for real-time temperature monitoring globally

The news is that DHL Global Forwarding Life Sciences (US HQ, Newark, NJ) is step by step upgrading the capabilities of its life sciences competence centers—locations where dedicated services for life sciences transportation and distribution are handled as part of its worldwide network. One element of this is to get the training and accreditation as a Qualified Envirotainer Provider (QEP), Envirotainer being one of the key vendors of temperature-controlled unit-load devices (UDLs) that aircraft use to transport pharmaceuticals and other perishables. In January, the company announced that its Brisbane, CA, center—one of 17 worldwide—had received QEP accreditation; San Juan, PR and several other North American locations will follow during this year.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to Herman Ude, Global DHL Life Sciences & Healthcare Board Sponsor, and Angelos Orfanos, head of the Global DHL Life Sciences & Healthcare Sector. In an interview with Pharmaceutical Commerce, the executives stressed that DHL is already a major player in life sciences transportation globally (the activity generated €3 billion for DHL in 2009, out of total DHL revenue of €46 billion). An additional 20 competence centers, in 17 countries, will be established during 2011. The European less-than-truckload (LTL) services are being extended to the Middle East. “The main drivers we see, beyond annual increases in healthcare services generally, are the growth of emerging markets, and the greater prevalence of outsourced manufacturing,” says Ude. These factors will drive increased use of all modes of transportation, and also a need for better last-mile services in developing nations.” Ude further explains that the life sciences business accesses services from the various DHL units—Global Customer Solutions, DHL Global Forwarding, DHL Freight, DHL Supply Chain and DHL Express—on an as-needed basis.

On the technology side, DHL is readying a real-time temperature- and location-tracking service, to be called Smart Sensor Tracking, that will be based on RFID technology and operate globally. Clients will be able to monitor a shipment’s condition in transit—a requirement that is beginning to emerge among shippers of temperature-controlled products.

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