Temperature-controlled shipping: Panalpina gears up for growing demand

PANALPINA125One-fifth of Panalpina’s air cargo moved on specific routes within its own controlled air freight network is temperature sensitive cargo today. Each temperature-controlled shipment is equipped with RFID (radio-frequency identification) sensors, from the moment of pick-up to final delivery if desired. Demand for such shipments is rising, not only in the healthcare industry. As a consequence, Panalpina is extending its cool chain network with SmartView technology to ensure seamless monitoring, control and documentation. For the best possible transparency, SmartView is also being integrated into the company’s IT platforms.

In the first half of 2012, 20 percent of Panalpina’s air cargo moved on its own Luxembourg-Huntsville route was temperature-controlled. Panalpina’s own controlled air freight network puts the company in a unique position when it comes to temperature sensitive cargo. “We are much closer to the cargo. We control aircraft on specific routes, and we design and oversee processes on the ground. Therefore, we have the best possible control from door-to-door,” explained Matthias Frey, who heads Panalpina’s own controlled air freight network. 

Door-to-door proactive monitoring, control and documentation

As part of the PanCool initiative, Panalpina has in the past few years established a door-to-door proactive monitoring, control and documentation system for temperature sensitive cargo. Panalpina’s new flagships, the two wet-leased Boeing 747-8 Freighters, mark the latest and apparent investment in building a global state-of-the-art cool chain network. The Panalpina aircraft, dubbed Cool Planes by the company, can maintain different determined temperature ranges at the same time: For example, one for 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (cold chain) and one for 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (controlled room temperature).

“We’ve invested heavily in technology, equipment and training of staff. We listened very closely to our customers and turned their recommendations into lived and auditable processes. And we’ve gained a lot of experience with thousands of temperature-controlled shipments,” said Thomas Berger, Panalpina’s Global Head of Industry Vertical Healthcare. “All this has helped us to achieve very stable and reliable results, but it is also part of the explanation why meanwhile every fifth kilogram moved on specific Panalpina routes is temperature sensitive cargo.”

The vast bulk of this cargo is shipped by the healthcare industry, but growing demand for temperature-controlled shipping can also be observed elsewhere. The products being moved in temperature-controlled environments include pharmaceuticals, chemical pre-products, dangerous and hazardous substances, high-tech wafers and even printing machines and test or prototype automobiles, among many others.

3,000 temperature-controlled shipments since introduction of SmartView

Panalpina has built up profound cool chain know-how. Since the introduction of SmartView, the global provider of supply chain solutions has monitored and documented over 3,000 temperature-controlled shipments. SmartView is a RFID (radio-frequency identification) based temperature control system, an award-winning solution for cool chain optimization. Panalpina uses it within its own controlled air freight network. The cool chain solution provides an integrated control center to manage temperature sensitive shipments throughout the end-to-end supply chain. Temperatures can be documented in the air, and actively monitored in the transit warehouse and on the road. In case of temperature deviations, Panalpina can intervene.

Recordings every 15 minutes

The active RFID sensors of the SmartView system are attached to the shipments where they record the environment temperature every 15 minutes. For security reasons, recorded data is not immediately transmitted to the central database during flight. The radio signals may otherwise interfere with the aircraft’s technical systems. But as soon as the cargo is unloaded at the airport and in reach of a router, the data is automatically transmitted and fed into the database. Panalpina’s routers are typically located in the transit warehouses of airports. The same type of RFID sensors also monitor the environment temperature of designated cool cells of such Panalpina facilities – again at 15 minute intervals and around the clock.

If desired, temperature monitoring of air cargo is expanded to road transport in pre- and on-carriage. “The customers of our own controlled air freight network decide what they need. If they need end-to-end monitoring we will provide it,” said Daniel Lutz who is in charge of Panalpina’s Luxembourg hub operations. In road transport, Panalpina combines active RFID technology with GPRS and GPS technology to fulfill any additional monitoring requirements, be that for relative humidity, shock and light exposure, air pressure or location.

Network extensions and live visibility for customers

Panalpina first introduced SmartView at its air freight hub in Luxembourg in November 2009. The hub is also officially GDP (Good Distribution Practice) certified since June 2010. In the meantime, Panalpina has equipped six more airport facilities with SmartView technology. The growing demand for temperature-controlled shipping and Panalpina’s success therein calls for further network extensions. Panalpina is constantly upgrading its strategic facilities within the own controlled network with the technology. “Pudong in Shanghai, Viracopos in São Paulo and Dubai World Central are just a few of the airport facilities high up on our priority list,” said Matthias Frey.

Panalpina is also working on a solution to make the temperature monitoring of individual shipments directly accessible to its customers: “The integration of the SmartView technology into our IT platforms is a crucial part of our PanCool initiative. The data is there in abundance and we have access to it via special website from around the globe. In the near future, our customers will be able to access this information directly via our track and trace tool PanTrace. This way, our customers get live end-to-end visibility for their temperature-controlled shipments – anytime, anywhere,” added Frey.

The Panalpina Group

The Panalpina Group is one of the world’s leading providers of supply chain solutions, combining intercontinental Air and Ocean Freight with comprehensive Value-Added Logistics Services and Supply Chain Services. Thanks to its in-depth industry know-how and customized IT systems, Panalpina provides globally integrated end-to-end solutions tailored to its customers’ supply chain management needs. The Panalpina Group operates a global network with some 500 branches in more than 80 countries. In a further 80 countries, it cooperates closely with partner companies. Panalpina employs approximately 15,500 people worldwide.


For more details, please contact:

Corporate Media Relations Manager Head of Luxembourg Operations
Sandro Hofer Daniel Lutz
Tel. +41 61 226 11 66 Tel. +41 61 226 14 75
sandro.hofer@panalpina.com daniel.lutz@panalpina.com

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