Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New Logistics Standard Set for Perishable Air Cargoes

Hong Kong Freight Operators First to be Certified
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – HONG KONG – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched a new industry certification, the Center for Excellence for Perishable Logistics (CEIV Fresh), to improve the handling and the transport by air of perishable products. Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said:

“Perishable goods is a growing market for air cargo. Ensuring that these delicate and short shelf-life products reach the customer unspoiled with minimal waste and loss is essential. Shippers will have assurance that CEIV Fresh certified companies are operating to the highest quality and standards in the transport of perishable products.”

The specific time and temperature requirements for food and plant products makes the handling and transporting of perishable products challenging. The CEIV Fresh programme aims to meet these exacting requirements primarily based on the IATA Perishable Cargo Regulations (PCR) which combines professional regulatory and operational input from industry and government experts.

The Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), Cathay Pacific, Cathay Pacific Services Limited (CPSL) and Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl) were the first organisations to pilot the CEIV Fresh programme taking a community approach to certification. This community approach looks to align the needs and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the handling of perishable goods. Fred Lam, Chief Executive Officer, Airport Authority Hong Kong, said:

“We are delighted to be the first airport community worldwide recognised by IATA under the CEIV Fresh programme, which is a big encouragement to and affirmation of the capability of the Hong Kong airport community in handling perishable products. HKIA is the world’s busiest cargo airport since 2010. With the new certification, HKIA is well-placed to capture the increasing growth opportunities in the market for fresh and perishable goods.”

For its part Hactl began preparations for IATA CEIV Fresh in October 2018, with key staff undergoing training by IATA in November, and the company making a number of refinements to its terminal and processes. Assessment and validation were then carried out in December 2018 and January 2019 respectively. Hactl created a new, fast-track ‘Fresh Lane’ through its handling processes, designed to create an organised and structured journey through its facility, and so minimise the time taken to unload perishable cargo and either release it to customers, or place it in temperature-controlled storage.

The Fresh Lane is modelled on Hactl’s successful ‘Golden Route’, which was introduced for the expedited handling of pharmaceuticals in 2013, and won it the first WHO GDP and IATA CEIV Pharma accreditations in Hong Kong. Hactl’s new perishables handling procedures are based around the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) concept, which identifies and deals with potential threats to perishables safety. The over-riding aim of HACCP is to minimise the amount of perishables cargo which becomes unfit for consumption during transit.

Hactl identified four such Critical Control Points within its operations, which have been successfully dealt with through, for example, the use of thermal dollies to maintain optimum temperatures. Among other upgrades are the segregation of different perishable commodities through dedicated truck docks, and the mapping and visual marking of optimum storage positions in its cool rooms (its so-called ‘Blue Belt’). Dedicated active ULD charging areas have also been installed, already stringent hygiene and pest-control practices have been tightened further, and suppliers have been instructed on what they must do to comply with the new standard. Hactl Senior Manager, Safety, Sustainability and Quality Assurance, Benny Siu, said:

“The IATA training was an excellent starting point to ensure we understood the standard, and it gave us the opportunity to raise our own questions after reading the IATA PCR and IATA CEIV Fresh Audit Checklist. This enabled us to make a prompt start on the certification process. With CEIV Fresh, you have to forget the many years for which you may have handled perishable cargo: it’s a hurdle if you think in this way. What we have done with CEIV Fresh is to further enhance our existing high standards through careful self-scrutiny, detailed planning, and making modifications where required.”

Wilson Kwong, Hactl Chief Executive attributed Hactl’s success in achieving accreditation so quickly, to the company’s customary teamwork and constant determination to drive the highest standards and best practice. He added:

“Certification such as CEIV Fresh is very useful to benchmark the quality and standard of an organisation, and Hactl applauds both IATA’s initiative in driving the adoption of CEIV Fresh throughout the industry, and HKIA’s leadership of this project in Hong Kong. We urge all air cargo businesses to join this movement towards uniformity, which will create higher service standards for perishables handling across the industry.”

Photo: Hactl’s multi-zone temperature-controlled storage and handling facilities.