FedEx, IAG Cargo unveil new cold-chain capabilities


IAG Cargo's Heathrow facility is up and running; FedEx has begun construction at its Memphis hub

Enhanced service offerings continue to appear, to meet requirements of life sciences shippers. IAG Cargo, the merged air-cargo business of British Airways and Iberia Air, has opened a 7,000-sq.ft. facility at Heathrow Airport in the UK to handle transshipments from its global network, now comprising 350 destinations. Alan Dorling, global head for life sciences, says that 87 of these stations have now been upgraded to provide the company’s Constant Climate service uniformly, and hopes to have over 100 stations with that status by early 2014. Each of these Climate Control stations has a quality manager trained in EU-standard Good Distribution Practices (GDPs).

In FedEx’s case, the company will have an 88,000-sq.ft. facility in place by fall 2014, adjacent to its Memphis World Hub. Operational features include frozen (-25 to -10°C), refrigerated (2-8°C) and controlled room temperature (15-25°C), flexible walls to allow precise temperature control and commodity segregations (the facility will apparently handle other cold-chain products besides healthcare), and real-time temperature, humidity and CO2 monitoring. FedEx offers a thermal blanketing service for CRT products; there will be a staging area for this service.

With over 250 wide-body aircraft flights daily, IAG Cargo is one of the world’s largest air-freight carriers, says Dorling. The new Heathrow facility is actually just an interim step; the company will be building a larger one within the next three years. Unlike the distribution centers of manufacturers or wholesalers, facilities like these are sized for handling transshipments—Dorling says that the Heathrow facility is set up to move out containers in under three hours under normal operating conditions. FedEx’s Richard Smith, managing director of FedEx Express Life Sciences and Specialty Services, notes that “We will be able to better manage healthcare products and other perishables in the event of unforeseen delays, such as clearance holds or inclement weather, and give our customers the peace of mind they deserve when shipping sensitive goods.”

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