DHL's 'cold chain train' speeds China-Europe access

Healthcare products are included in the shipments leaving Chengdu for Poland and beyond

Much of the time, “cold chain” refers, at least for pharmaceuticals, to preventing overheating of products en route from manufacturer to distribution points, but in western China, at this time of year, the problem is the reverse: outside temperatures can reach as low as -20C. As part of an overall trade lane from China to Europe, DHL Global Forwarding has developed a temperature-controlled railcar service that can keep products with a specified range between -25 and +25°C. The containers are individually powered, and designed to fit into normal train schedules. Clients can monitor and modify temperatures remotely and track the shipment through DHL’s communications systems.

DHL says that its multimodal customers (which includes electronics, healthcare products and consumer goods) benefit from a dependable rail service that is cheaper than air freight, but with half the delivery time of ocean freight. “We launched this precise climate-control rail solution earlier in the year after rigorous trials and tests,” said Kelvin Leung, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding Asia Pacific (Singapore). “Customer interest in this innovative service has been robust.”

DHL’s trade lane runs from Chengdu (where, the company says, 262 of the Fortune 500 have offices) to DHL's intermodal hubs in Małaszewicze and Lodz, Poland. Earlier, the company’s DHL Supply Chain unit announced a significant expansion of its China facilities, including a new logistics center in Chengdu of 54,000-sq. m. capacity. The center also acts as a crossdock facility for transportation across the western region of China.