Brussels Airport unveils its airside active temperature control dolly

This new active cargo trailer is pre-conditioned at the correct temperature in order to hold pharmaceutical shipments within the correct temperature limits during transportation between warehouses and aircraft at an affordable cost.


Airside Pharma Transporter Brink’s Brucargo Brussels Airport Expeditors Nathan De Valck perhisables pharma Steven Polmans temperature control TIACA ACF


Brussels Airport presented a European first at the TIACA Air Cargo Forum in Paris: The active version of its ‘Airside Pharma Transporter’ that was first introduced by the airport in December 2015. This new active cargo trailer is pre-conditioned at the correct temperature in order to hold pharmaceutical shipments within the correct temperature limits during transportation between warehouses and aircraft at an affordable cost. This is crucial because an incorrect temperature can cause rejection of medicines. Until today the period on the tarmac was considered the most hazardous link in the transportation process,

“The pharmaceutical sector is of great economic importance to our country. Brussels Airport Company has become the preferred gateway in Europe for the cold chain industry and medicines in particular,” says Steven Polmans, head of cargo at Brussels Airport.

“Within the Flanders Pharma Hub Project, the local freight partners are brought together by Brussels Airport to realise innovations for an improved treatment of pharmaceutical products,” explains Nathan De Valck, cargo & product development manager at Brussels Airport. This cluster includes handling agents, airlines, forwarding agents, truckers, knowledge centers and an engineering and production company.

The active version of the Airside Pharma Transporter is a first, because it ensures that the interior temperature is always and automatically pre-conditioned at the correct temperature. This eliminates the need for the handling agents to condition the transport vehicle and results in quicker cycle times between different transports.

Polmans explains: “Despite the higher investment cost, the active version of the Airside Pharma Transporter allows us to offer considerably more availability of conditioned transport options at BRU. Given the high demand on peak hours, we can now add an extra available slot for airlines or forwarders to book. This is a clear economic benefit compared to the passive version that was already in use”.

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The Airside Pharma Transporter uses a new type of cooling technology and relies on solar power technology to operate autonomously for several days. This allows for an energy neutral temperature controlled transport of the temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipments at Brussels Airport.

This project allows the weakest link in the transport process of drugs to be eliminated, because the transport regulations for pharmaceuticals and the cold chain are generally very strict. A too high fluctuation in storage temperature can ensure that the drugs should not be used, with large losses as a consequence. The Airside Pharma Transport Project provides an answer.

“Brussels Airport commits to an ongoing dialogue with the shippers of pharmaceutical products in order to know their needs and specific expectations for air transport,” adds Polmans. “The Airside Transport Pharma Project is an excellent example of an innovation aimed at solving a priority issue indicated by the shippers. Pharmaceutical manufacturers were actively involved in defining the performance requirements for the engineering and the test protocol for the temperature mapping of the airside transport solution.”

Nathan De Valck explains: “Several forwarders and airlines are setting up new commercial services for controlled temperature transport, using the Airside Pharma Transporters. Initially Brussels Airport will rent out 4 vehicles via an innovative booking tool based in the BRUcargo cloud. In this respect the airport operator is facilitating its local stakeholders to develop new commercial services. As a result the entire BRUcargo community will benefit, the handling of pharmaceutical products will improve and Brussels Airport will confirm its position as the preferred European pharma gateway.”

Alban François, Vice President Global Cargo at Brussels Airlines Cargo: “With the Airside Pharma Transporter, Brussels Airlines Cargo will be able to guarantee 100 per cent temperature control of all pharma shipments during the ramp transportation at BRU, and this independently of the outside temperature. Having this solution on our hub is a major achievement for our customers.”

Philip Dekker, regional director Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal & Greece at Expeditors adds: “Don’t call it a Dream, call it a Plan. Speed to market & Risk Management within now-a-days regulatory environment. This all backed by data. Raising the bar and setting the standard within the air freight & Healthcare industry. Today, the plan is reality. Brussels airport & Expeditors, best in class.”

Similarly, Leandro Moreira, director of Brink’s Life Sciences and chairman of Health Technologies Distribution Alliance HTDA: “At Brink’s Global Services’ Life Sciences Division we share the same values and goals of Brussels Airport of making the pharma supply chain more efficient, compliant and secure.

“Brink’s know-how in risk management combined with the expertise of our life sciences division, allow us to provide an additional layer of protection to pharmaceutical shipments during all milestones including, key global airports, where we help minimise vulnerabilities at the tarmac. I applaud Brussels Airport pharma initiatives, and look forward to a strategic partnership that will benefit shippers, airlines, forwarders and ground handlers.”