Becoming CEIV Pharma certified

The transportation and distribution of pharma products around the world can be a delicate process, involving a combination of safety and security with speedy international delivery.

It is a demanding sector of air cargo and one that has been growing rapidly in recent years as people live longer and customers demand a higher service.

Such growth has created a demand for a global standardisation for pharma in air cargo, which resulted in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) establishing a network of certified pharma trade lanes by launching the Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) certification.

Since IATA launched the initiative three years ago, CEIV Pharma has grown in recognition and credibility as more companies become certified, but what does CEIV Pharma certification actually entail? And is it worth the effort for carriers?

The CEIV Pharma certification process

Rhenus Logistics recently became CEIV certified to safeguard and guarantee the supply chain of pharmaceutical products at the cross-dock warehouse at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Gaining CEIV Pharma certification has enhanced the pharma handling processes at Rhenus Logistics, and resulted in an improved service for customers.

“One of Rhenus’ focus markets is the forwarding of pharmaceutical goods, which aligns with the purpose of the CEIV Pharma certification,” said Richard Pel, Business Development Manager Pharma, Rhenus Air & Ocean B.V.

“During the certification process, we quickly realised that pharma handling should be seen as a separate vertical and be recorded as such in a separate pharma manual.

“As a result, we now have a Pharma Manual that has been prepared with all necessary documentation and processes, which has improved our approach to handling pharma.”

Air France – KLM – Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP) was one of the first air cargo operators to become CEIV certified three years ago and recently completed the validation of re-certification process.

“Compared to three years ago when we first became certified, we have noticed that the CEIV standard has become more proficient,” said Paul Crombach, Program Manager Cool Chain, AFKLMP.

“There are now stricter requirements imposed on the transport of pharmaceutical shipments, which is reflected in the intensive auditing process, but it is necessary to ensure the process is professional.”

Becoming CEIV Pharma certified and retaining the status through re-certification is no easy task, but according to Crombach and Pel, the long-term benefits are worth the effort.

“In addition to customer audits that we receive on a regular basis, we are also being challenged by an external party once every three years, which helps us to stay sharp,” said Crombach.

“This may seem cumbersome, but it ensures that we review ourselves and our procedures critically, and even results in improvements.”

Boosting collaboration through CEIV Pharma

As the air cargo industry embraces digitisation and the world becomes more connected through modern technology, collaboration is becoming increasingly common.

The pharma airfreight sector is no exception to this evolving business environment, and the CEIV Pharma certification and auditing processes are proving to be beneficial for increasing collaboration amongst teams and departments, as recognised by Pel.

“Throughout the process of becoming CEIV certified, we have seen employees from different levels working together that may not have worked together before,” he said.

“As a result, procedures have now been established and are being applied by employees that directly deal with the flow of pharma shipments on a daily basis.

“It is our employees that are at the heart of the cold chain, and who are contributing to ensure the integrity of pharma products, which has been enhanced through CEIV Pharma.”

Crombach also identified collaboration as a benefit of CEIV Pharma certification, especially when completing the audit process.

“If I could offer any advice for others going through the re-certification process, it would be to create a task-forced team and do it together,” he added.

For more information about CEIV Pharma certification, visit the IATA website.

Tips for gaining CEIV Pharma certification Tips for CEIV Pharma validation of re-certification
Encourage collaboration amongst staff Install back-up processes
Create your own specific pharma manual Schedule the validation audit months before the certificate expires
Ensure pharma handling facilities are compliant with CEIV specifications Ensure all documentation is prepared in advance
Align processes with CEIV specifications and monitor for consistency Work together as a team