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DB Schenker Mexico goes the extra mile to “learn” along with its global pharmaceutical customers and develop an end-to-end solution that those companies can use to get their products into patients’ hands.
For the healthcare industry, making sure patients get the medicines and treatments that they need to be able to lead healthy, fulfilling lives is a daily mission. DB Schenker Mexico is well aware of this, and for years has been helping a number of large pharmaceutical companies meet and exceed their patients’ expectations.
In 2016, DB Schenker expanded its footprint in pharmaceutical logistics by offering a service that essentially “opens the box” and verifies exactly what type of products that it’s moving. After establishing a pharma desk at its operations in Mexico, the full-service logistics provider sent team members to train with suppliers that specialized in pharmaceutical packaging.
DB Schenker also sent team members to Miami and Chicago for Good Distribution Practices (GDP) training, which provides a quality system for warehouse and distribution processes dedicated to medicines.
This ensures that the quality of a pharmaceutical product is maintained by means of adequate control of the numerous activities which occur during the distribution process. It also provides a tool to secure the distribution system from unapproved, illegally imported, stolen, counterfeit, substandard, adulterated, and/or misbranded pharmaceutical products.
“After getting trained, those team members came back and trained our entire pharmaceutical team in Mexico,” says Emmanuel Trejo, Country Head of Airfreight, DB Schenker Mexico, who sees this effort as yet another way the logistics provider goes the extra mile to ensure a safe, secure supply chain for pharmaceutical products. “At the end of the day, we’re just taking care of people.”
Developing Critical Systems
Over time, DB Schenker has honed its pharma desk and practices to accommodate the needs of some of the world’s largest drug manufacturers. Some of these changes came about after customer audits turned up areas for potential improvement. The logistics provider also added cargo capabilities to its offerings and implemented cooling systems in its warehouses. “Those systems are critical for our pharma customers,” says Veronica Nogales, Key Account Manager VM Healthcare, DB Schenker Mexico.
For one global pharmaceutical drug company, DB Schenker has been providing an array of services for about six years now. “Today, we are their main carrier for air import/export, land import/export, and soon to be ocean,” says Nogales. “That’s one good example of an account that we’ve grown along with over the years.”
Another large pharmaceutical firm challenged DB Schenker to find a way to safely and effectively handle a baby product that it had never managed before. Years later, the logistics provider continues to successfully manage that product on a shipping lane that goes from Belgium to Sweden. “Our customers are often our greatest teachers,” says Trejo, “and have helped make our pharmaceutical arm extremely successful.”
The success stories don’t end there. DB Schenker also helped one of its largest pharmaceutical customers make an emergency delivery to El Salvador during a natural disaster, and works frequently with a supplier that’s located at Customs in the International Airport in Mexico City. For the latter, DB Schenker plans to build a refrigerated/cool chamber warehouse that multiple pharmaceutical companies will be able to use.
“In Mexico right now, there’s only one warehouse that has this kind of system,” says Trejo. “If our customer is going to invest in this, it will provide an added value for us. We’re currently gathering all of the information and requirements from our customers, and planning to give it to the engineer who builds the warehouse.”
Success Stories Abound
For another global pharmaceutical company, DB Schenker manages airfreight at both the point of origin and at the destination. In many cases, the shipments involve probiotics that become unusable if they experience even the slightest temperature deviations. Nogales says this particular customer approached DB Schenker after working unsuccessfully with another logistics provider.
“They were getting poor service, and their logistics manager really wanted to work with us and give all her shipments to us based on the good service she’d received in a previous role,” says Nogales. “The relationship has been very successful.”
A developer of innovative medicines and diagnostic tests that help millions of patients globally, is one of several large pharmaceutical firms that works with DB Schenker Mexico. In many cases, the company’s temperature-sensitive shipments must be handled properly as they move from ocean to land to air.
“We work closely with our corporate headquarters, airlines, and warehouse personnel to make sure we’re all aligned on these issues,” says Nogales, “and that all shipments move through the supply chain quickly and safely.”
Staying in Tune
DB Schenker Mexico also stays abreast of all regulatory changes impacting pharmaceutical logistics, and adds new services like a cross-dock warehouse in Mexico City that’s adapted to accommodate temperature-controlled cargo. Recently, the logistics provider began offering a service whereby customers can use a device to check the temperature of their cargo 24/7/365 from their mobile phones.
Looking ahead, Trejo expects more success stories to come out of DB Schenker Mexico’s pharma division, which continues to hone its offerings and expand its client relationships.
“We have the GDP training and the experience, and we’re very knowledgeable about handling this type of sensitive cargo,” says Trejo. “We make that part of our regular training here, and we’re always working to enhance and improve our offerings in a way that meets our customers’ needs while also ultimately supporting the patient who uses the products.”