For many pharmaceutical and healthcare product manufacturers, the business of logistics can be a mine field filled with its own set of challenges. After all, when it comes to healthcare products, logistics goes beyond just storing and shipping the product. It can include everything from temperature control management, keeping the product secure in terms of the chain of custody, and most importantly, it comes with its own set of regulatory compliance guidelines.
Thus, not every logistics company is capable of providing the right type of services to meet pharmaceutical and healthcare logistics needs. Enter the Kuehne + Nagel Group.
Founded as a family-owned enterprise in 1890, the Kuehne + Nagel Group is one of the world’s leading logistics companies across all industries. With approximately 65,000 employees working at more than 1000 locations in over 100 countries, the Group covers every aspect of international logistics – on land, at sea and in the air. It also has a significant footprint in Canada, its first Canadian location established in 1953 (the very first that the German/Swiss company expanded to outside of Germany).
Part of this Canadian footprint is a special 380,000 square foot facility located in Mississauga, ON. What makes this facility special is that it is home to the company’s Canadian Pharmaceutical and Healthcare logistics center. The building, which officially opened in March 2012 is truly unique says Darrell Skelly, Director, Strategic Customer Development Pharmaceutical & Healthcare for Kuehne + Nagel Ltd.
“We offer warehousing of human and animal pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other consumer healthcare products. It is fully Pharma Healthcare GMP compliant, with Health Canada drug establishment and medical device licenses in place.”
He explains what makes the building unique is both the intricate details of its physical design as well as the people who work within it.
In terms of the design, 100,000 sq.ft.is for consumer healthcare products with a further 80,000 sq.ft. that is both temperature and humidity- controlled. The additional 80,000 sq.ft. of Pharmaceutical Healthcare 15°C to 25°C space is temperature mapped and validated with white scrubable surfaces and GMP complaint sealed flooring. Temperature and humidity set points by zone are maintained by seven roof mounted HVAC units controlled electronically by a building computer system. Segregated receiving and shipping bay doors are accordion style to eliminate dust and prevent rodent entrance. Multiple Cool Zone areas are also available to meet clients’ specific needs in keeping with the demands of the highly regulated pharmaceutical sector.
“We have multiple coolers and freezers built that range from 2ºC to 8ºC all the way down to (minus) -30ºC because we are client driven. We actually build to the exact requirements for their products and in most cases we’re the ones investing our capital to meet our clients design needs.”
Whatever the requirements, freezers, coolers or narcotics vaults all are customizable.
He adds that there are redundancy measures in place for everything in the facility; including a diesel generator to support full operations should power go down, coupled with enough fuel on site for three days plus fuel replenishment agreements to ensure power is never lost.
“So we never have to stop working and there are monitors everywhere for temperature and humidity environment measurement, transmitting data to a server, accessible by internet to our employees and securely to the quality control staff of our clients.”
As alluded to, within the facility everything is monitored for both temperature and humidity. This is important due to the nature of the products, and not many logistics facilities today are able to meet both these needs. Another aspect of the facility’s uniqueness is that clients are also given the ability through secured internet-based EDx System access to both track and look at the real-time temperature and humidity readings in their zone of storage and also to print this data for immediate reporting. Combined with further online access to the KN Login system, clients retain strong working control as they may further see specific order status as well as overall inventory status right down to the item level.
“In a way, we’re adding to their capabilities by providing full supply chain visibility from source right through to end-customer. It helps our clients be in control and also helps them to prepare for any audits or studies they wish to do. They gain more capability through outsourcing, and they give nothing up. ”
The staff on the site for the Pharma Healthcare centre is equally unique. Again, due to the specialized nature of the products they are handling, the staff are GMP and client specific trained with a focus to ensure quality performance and safety in the patient care supply chain. He explains, many drugs are highly sensitive to temperature; some are extremely valuable; and all are subject to a complex array of government regulations. In the Pharma Healthcare supply chain, every detail counts.
“Our staff, both here and globally are the ones ensuring that every single process, order and aspect of what they do meets global and local regulatory guidelines and the standard operating procedures as well as each client’s requirements for the storage, warehousing and transportation of their goods. So we have a very high skill level that aligns with the Pharma Healthcare product storage and distribution.”
In fact, the company is an award winning company in terms of both its GMP training and its cold chain management, winning the “Eye for Transport” 3PL award best 3PL for pharma/life science/healthcare supply chains in 2013 and “IQPC” Cool Chain Excellence Awards in 2012 in Europe.
Skelly says it’s important to note that the service they provide goes beyond just storing and shipping the product. It’s about meeting the needs of the client/customer and ultimately the patient.
“We sell integrated logistics solutions. It’s not just about storing your products; it’s about what is your market strategy, how can we help you reach your end customer and how can we do that from your source, wherever in the world you’re bringing the products from to wherever in the world you need them to be.”
Skelly adds that is what makes the facility so attractive to potential clients, is that it can be tailored to meet the requirements of the client source to end-customer.
“We realize that one size does not fill all so, we’re willing to make strategic investments to ensure our customers are happy. We’re very focused on continuous improvement both here in Canada and worldwide. We have engineers on site who are continuously looking to see how processes can be improved, by changing the way we do things, or adding technology to make things simpler, more effective and accurate. It’s all about being more efficient to create savings for our customers.”
On a global scale the company ranks as one of the top exporter/importer of the drugs. Being global, the company has strived to standardize its pharma and healthcare logistics operations with all the necessary regulating government bodies including the World Health Organization, the U.S. FDA and with Health Canada as applicable.
“Whatever the regulating body is, we do that on one common system worldwide. Once clients set up on our systems once, it’s just about retesting in other markets. With this capability, we offer them a chance to get a footprint in other markets to expand simply through our reach.”
Likewise, Kuehne + Nagel’s clients also benefit from the company’s international standing.
“On a larger scale we build pharma healthcare solutions that are designed to take products from the source or manufacturing right through to the end customer, or in this case the patient. For Pharma Healthcare, we have 53 centers in 30 countries. So, for a lot of the companies or clients that come to us, we’re not just able to serve them here in Canada, but we can do so also in other countries. We give them the list and they are astounded by our presence,” says Skelly.
Taking it step-by-step, Skelly says the company can arrange the pickup anywhere in the world at the manufacturing plants, provide the containers whether for sea or air, arrange for them to clear customs on an export basis, travel and being monitored at multiple temperature environments, come to a port or airport, in this case Canada, where they arrange for the proper transport pickup to come right to the facilities too.
“We receive it and enter it into our warehouse management system put the product away in barcoded specific locations unique to that product, lot number, expiry date and if a medical device, its serial number. That’s all managed on a system that meets Health Canada’s expectations for a Pharma Healthcare validated system.”
Returning to what they do here in the Mississauga facility, he says they deal with all kinds of local and international companies.
“In this facility, we have a full suite of pharma and healthcare products including nutritional products, brand and generic pharmaceutical products, biologics, vaccines, animal drugs and medical devices. We have about a dozen clients in the healthcare industry in this facility currently, as we speak, with two more new clients coming. We also have space to welcome the biotechnology community further starting with 40,000 sq. ft. in the current building still to fill.”
But the company’s logistics footprint in the healthcare and pharmaceutical space goes beyond what they do in the facility he says.
“For example, there are approximately 100 Pharma Healthcare companies that use our sea and air freight services for importing and exporting, and we’re the top air freight mover of drugs in this country,” says Skelly.
The facilities location in the heart of Mississauga’s life science cluster was not accidental says Skelly.
“There are many reasons why Mr. Keuhne negotiated buying this land. This is an industry that’s important to our business. Not only does Mississauga sit at the gateway to the Golden Horseshoe, 45 minutes from CN and CP rail hubs and 20 minutes from Pearson International Airport, but we want to be in the heart of Mississauga’s biotech, pharma and medical device communities. There are about 200 healthcare companies within about 20km of this site, We are in the heart of “Pill Hill”, and we want their business.”
For these reasons, Skelly says the company intends to build a third facility approximately 300,000 sq. ft. on the campus in the near future. The end goal, he says, is to further expand Kuehne + Nagel’s pharmaceutical & healthcare and logistics services.
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