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News January 30, 2013

IATA insights on new temperature-sensitive product requirements

Andrea Graf-Gruber of the International Air Transport Assn. addresses the shifting landscape for air carriers.
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IATA graphic

The Intl. Air Transport Assn. (IATA) started in 1945 and has more than 240 members representing 84% of global air cargo traffic.

On day one of Cool Chain Europe 2013 in Basel, Switzerland, Andrea Graf-Gruber discussed the global landscape for air carriers.

The pharmaceutical industry is counting on air travel more and more, with speed and on-time delivery key factors. Interestingly enough, air cargo accounts for 35% of value of shipped goods, but only .5% of volume. Think small, but very expensive items like drugs!

IATA preaches a safe, secure, reliable, efficient, and profitable air cargo supply chain, but there are many challenges that need to be addressed.

Not only is IATA challenged to provide a carbon footprint for “green” concerns, but also safety challenges, as well due to mis-declared or wrongly marked goods.

There needs to be less paper as well, a problem being tackled with a new electronic airway bill.

Airport operations and ground handling remain a problem. Do airport personnel and ground handlers understand the nature of time and temperature-sensitive materials when there is a weather or mechanical delay?

A new label was introduced in July 2012 due to a plethora of labels roaming the globe. Graf-Gruber stressed than much else has to be done, but the correct standardized label is an important start in the process.

A poll taken between August and October last year of 180 stakeholders in 59 countries revealed that 61% of airlines, ground handlers, shippers, etc., had implemented the label, but 39% have not—for a wide variety of reasons. More education is needed.

Ground handlers do not have an understanding of temperature-monitoring devices—how and where they are used and the wide variety of types available. IATA has established a working group to set up a compliance audit, not to punish but to show the value and benefits of compliance.

An audience member from J & J, discussing thermal mapping requirements, asked if IATA could help with temperature mapping of aircraft cargo holds and ground storage facilities. Graf-Gruber was very open to the discussion.

“Service providers have to help industry meet regulatory requirements,” Alan Davis of J & J told me after the presentation.  Davis is J & J’s Supply Chain Temperature Control Leader based in Skillman, NJ.  “There is no way we can get through all we have to without their help.”

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