November 19, 2021: Global Pharma Logistics Summit 2021 concluded in Mumbai with a positive note and asked the logistics companies to rise up to the challenge and encouraged them to grab the opportunity to move pharmaceutical goods and save lives.

The one-day industry conference was presented by Cargo Service Center with FedEx, Frankfurt Airport, Turkish Cargo, Etihad Cargo, Skyways Group and Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA) as partners.

While detailing the challenges the air cargo community faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and describing how it has opened new opportunities for the industry, Tushar Jani, chairman, Cargo Service Center (CSC), said, "Why can't we work forever the way worked during the Covid19 pandemic. We were moving cargo to the shipper in 30 minutes. This happens only once in a century.”

Manoj Singh, SVP & head of cargo, Mumbai International Airport, who also detailed his experiences during the pandemic including his sleepless night and how he responded to queries and requests from the central government, said, "Not even a single day Mumbai Airport took a break during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hats off to all stakeholders who worked hard to move and prioritise pharma shipments to fight the pandemic.”

The first panel discussion helped the audience to travel back to the last twenty months and listen to the speakers about their learning during the season. Yashpal Sharma, MD, Skyways Group, said, "My learning from the Covid-19 pandemic is to spend quality time in preparing a business continuity plan to deal with such situations in the future. Logistics could never take a back seat.”

Responding to a question from Reji John, editor, ITLN, if the pandemic has exposed the gaps in supply chains, Jani said, "Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call. For all of us. For every stakeholder across the supply chain."

Roland Weil, vice president sales – cargo, Frankfurt Airport stressed the need to look at the pandemic period from a futuristic lens. "The foundation is laid to deal with the next challenge. Next-generation has to build on this foundation and has to keep learning. There is no way back to how we used to operate,” he said.

Close to the end of the panel, Ravi Kumar Tummalapalli, head of logistics - APAC, Japan and China, Teva Pharmaceuticals, initiated a debate by comparing ocean freight and air freight from a shippers point of view. "For us, ocean freight is much more reliable and we are always trying to move to the ocean against the air. Air carries only 8 percent of our volume while it causes 75 percent of our budget," he said.

In the second panel which dealt with the complexities of delivering biologically-derived, temp-controlled drugs and therapies, speakers stressed the investments coming into this segment, increasing shipments of temperature-controlled pharma shipments and the business recovery strategy.

Sreenivas Rao Nandigam, global head of supply chain, SUN PHARMA, said, "There is no way the pharma industry can't deliver but it has the increased complexity of cold chain. This is why the local logistics service points close to the patients and customers important.”

Çağdaş ATABAY, Cargo Product Development, Turkish Airlines, said, Warehousing is an important element in the pharma supply chain and Turkish Cargo is investing to expand its capabilities in this segment to offer the streamlined movement of pharmaceuticals across our network.”

While delivering a keynote to the third panel Fabrice Panza, Manager, Global Cool Chain Solutions, Etihad Cargo, said, "Early on we identified the challenges to move Covid-19vaccines in terms of maintaining a very low temperature and reaching the destinations where we never been before. And we took initiatives to address it."

The third panel went on to discuss the packaging solutions and sustainability measures adopted by pharma manufacturing and logistics companies.

Hristo Petkov, global head of pharmaceuticals, A.P. Moller - Maersk, said, "We have evolved from shipping to integrated logistics solution provider and therefore we care about supply chain stakeholders and the society around. Thus it is very important for us to think about sustainability."

Ravi Kumar T, Head of Logistics-APAC, Japan and China, Teva Pharmaceuticals, said, “We consider it as our responsibility to imbibe sustainability into both our day to day operations and long term goals taking care of how shipments are moving around the world and the packaging used."

The last panel addressed the development of digitalization and the involvement of technology in the movement of pharma products. Sid Chakravarthy, Founder & CEO, StaTwig, "For the first time, with StaTwig, we have a solution to track and trace pharma products with the already printed identification without heavy automation or scanners across the supply chain but with a simple mobile app.”

Smrithi Kumar Iyer, AGM information technology, Cargo Service Center, said, "We have upgraded the ERP to enable the real-time temperature monitoring mobile app Turant which helps the stakeholders across the supply chain to know what is happening to their shipments.”

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