HANDLING TRENDS: Fresh lessons from the pharma field

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IATA is exploring extending its CEIV programme to include certification for live animals handling and the perishables market, reports Will Waters

The international Air Transport Association (IATA) has been continuing to expand its CEIV Pharma certification programme, having moved from just 40 certified stations in 2016 to more than 220 by the end of 2017. A further 75 certifications were “in progress” and another 99 were “under discussion” at the end of last year.

“So there is a growing interest in raising the bar within the industry, improving the level of competency and operational and technical preparedness in the handling of pharmaceuticals,” says IATA’s head of special cargo, Andrea Gruber. But there are wider plans too for the increasingly successful CEIV quality assessment and certification programme.

Following its launch in late 2014, the CEIV Pharma programme expanded initially mainly out of Europe but is now growing globally, “meaning that for the first time any facility that has been certified around the world has been done so in a consistent way, to the same level”, Gruber stresses. The benefits include preventing operational issues; enhancing infrastructure; improving handling in compliance with existing regulations and standards; elevating the level of staff competency through training − because training is key and is mandatory; and “providing visibility and transparency for certified entities – identifying who is raising the bar in the industry”, explains Gruber.

Network and community approaches
“And what is really important as well is that we have been going through different approaches: the individual approach, the network approach, and the community approach − with airports getting involved in having their stakeholders gain the certification. We have currently 12 ongoing communities, airports that are going through certification, and at each airport there is a number of companies within that platform.”

She continues: “Nine communities are in discussion. Last year there were 10 communities that had certified and five in discussion. So there is a growing demand all over the world to have this certification programme, and it led us to industry initiatives with which we work closely − for example, Pharma.Aero, which has created a community of certified airports sharing best practice.”

It is now three years since IATA started the CEIV programme and some of the frontrunners are going through the process of recertification this year. And having successfully established and consolidated the CEIV Pharma certification programme, IATA is now looking at expanding the CEIV principles to other areas of air cargo handling.
CEIV Live Animals
“In 2013, CEIV started in the area of security; in 2014 we launched the CEIV Pharma certification programme; and we are moving on now with CEIV Live Animals,” says Gruber.

“Why? Because the welfare of the animal is critical. It is a niche market and needs constant supervision within that industry. So, again we are responding to a call from the industry to enforce compliance with the regulations, the live animals regulations, and with quality services.
“And again, industry feedback is driving the improvements. The aim? Reduce animal stress, injury and death; improve compliance with standards and regulation; and raise the professionalism within the industry,” she notes.

“We have the Live Animals Regulations (LAR), which is the IATA standard for transporting live animals by commercial airlines. All persons who transport, handle, or load animals must be trained according to the requirements, and any acceptance staff – whether cargo passenger – must be trained as well, to the live animals regulations.”

She says the IATA LAR has been adopted by a number of countries and included into their own national legislation, and international organisations and government agencies such as the OIE and CITES in the US are referencing the IATA LAR as the official guidelines that have to be followed when transporting live animals by air. The European Union has also adopted the IATA LAR as the minimum standard also and is emphasising that anyone handling animals must be trained.

“So, the regulatory backbone is there for us and is pretty clear. But the feedback that I get is that there are a lot of cowboys out there doing it (live animal transport) but not doing it the right way,” Gruber notes. “That is ‘shadowing’ (the reputation of) those that are doing it correctly, and therefore I believe it is important to provide this transparency and raise the bar in the industry.”

She says the certification is not only about how we do things today, but how technology can enhance the practices currently being used. “So this is an area that we will be looking into this year.”

Next steps
The next steps for IATA in 2018 include continuing the rollout of CEIV Pharma − including additional requirements from the healthcare industry. “What is really important is to listen, and having a common language when it comes to transporting special cargo,” notes Gruber.

“On the live animal side, we will be piloting a CEIV Live Animals programme in 2018 with industry participants, and we have started working with CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and we will launch a campaign on the live animals regulations compliance. There is a lot of discussion about the transport of the illegal trade, but it is also important to talk about the legal trade. We have seen some incidents in the past where there has been a need to enforce compliance.”

Gruber expects to have some updates on the pilot projects for CEIV Live Animals at the World Cargo Symposium in March.

CEIV Fresh
And 2018 will also see the IATA investigate, with the industry, the potential of a CEIV Fresh programme. “A lot of companies have invested a lot of time and infrastructure in temperature-controlled environments, so they already have a step into the perishables sector,” she notes. “We will move one step at a time, but this is definitely on our radar, and we are getting industry feedback and industry participation on that programme.”

Whereas the CEIV Pharma and Live Animals initiatives were driven by industry pressure, Gruber says the CEIV for perishables “will most probably be coming from a different angle. And this is why we haven’t tackled it right away: because it hasn’t had the regulatory push like from the pharma side. And I think for the time being, in terms of costs relating related to infrastructure, it is not clear whether ground handlers, airlines, and freight forwarders are ready to invest in perishables.”

She continues: “From what angle would it potentially come? A desire to be more sustainable; reducing waste; potential consumer awareness; so we are tackling it from another angle. We are discussing it as well with producers, working with the various supply chain stakeholders to identify whether there is the actual need and how could that benefit to enhance the existing standards, whether there is room to enhance what exists today, especially to reduce the waste and get more efficiency in transporting perishables.”

So, at the moment it is IATA that is mainly driving the idea of a CEIV Fresh programme.

“We are investigating it with the airlines, so getting the feedback from the different stakeholders,” says Gruber. “They are interested to see our findings from the investigation, and see then how we would tackle such a certification programme.”

Although there may not be the same level of regulatory pressure that there is from the pharma side, Gruber notes: “There are a lot of food safety agencies, but how could that be embraced in something more global? So we’re continuing to investigate, to find out more so we have a more robust programme to start with.”