Transporting pharmaceutical products effectively: the real value of a partnership rooted in aligned strategy

Maersk is committed to improving life for all by integrating the world. Offering integrated solutions for global pharma and healthcare supply chains is part of our mission, impacting human health across the world.

With a global network of integrated solutions and assets - including a continued investment in cold store warehouses - we are uniquely positioned. Delivering customers’ products daily, trained teams work together to uphold product integrity and offer reliability.

Throughout the cold chain journey, the clear focus on product integrity and reliability ensures Maersk meets the priority goal of making sure that patients are served on time and with quality products.

pharma factory

What do pharmaceutical companies look for in a logistics partner?

Over recent years, the highly disrupted landscape of the logistics and supply chain market has compelled pharmaceutical companies to rethink the design of their value chain. At the same time, the rise in geopolitical tensions underscores the necessity for a more reliable and resilient supply chain.

It is often an intricate landscape to navigate, however this can be simplified when working with a logistics partner who understands the product in depth, with a high level of operational control and insight through owned assets.

An integral area, mandatory to the transportation of all pharmaceutical goods, is the specification of the temperature-controlled containers. Maersk’s fleet of containers transporting pharmaceutical goods are temperature controlled using the latest refrigerant technology. Through real time dashboard, our customers are able to view data reporting on the of conditions and location of their cargo around the clock. However, the compelling aspect is our ability to react quickly to this data.


Visibility alone is not enough – this is how Maersk assists you

When it comes to visibility, we have a keen understanding of our customers’ need for timely action in the real world.

Pharmaceutical companies see Maersk as a partner who delivers end-to-end visibility through 24/7 control towers. If a malfunction on a container is flagged - which could cause a temperature deviation - the team in the control tower can notify the issue to the terminal or vessel crew, who will then be able to intervene and take the necessary steps.

Our teams simultaneously work on a proactive basis to inform vital stakeholders on vessels and terminals , to prioritise containers with pharmaceutical products.

As a result, we see significant reductions in off-power incidents and duration. Meeting the quality requirements of our customers is essential and we are able to reduce lead times due to efficient QA releases.

maersk truck

The Maersk Crew in your corner

Pharmaceutical companies approach Maersk to receive recommendations and outcomes to improve and optimise their supply chain.

Working within a highly regulated industry is complex and therefore needs expertise.

Understanding this, Maersk has committed pharmaceutical logistics teams that receive training to fully understand the special requirements of the industry.

They understand the all-important quality standards and GDP regulations, readying them to react at speed and recommend with insight.

Maersk’s quality management system provides crucial assurances, upheld by knowledgeable teams, and these teams are also able to offer proactive recommendations to improve future journeys. This can include recommending different routes, storing cargo in different warehouses, or taking new, alternative transport methods. Throughout the process, the cold chain will remain GDP complaint, upholding product quality through a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach.

We want to be a competitive advantage for our customers.

Gaetan Van Exem
Global Vertical Head, Pharma and Healthcare Cold Chain Vertical

Crucial control of assets

The integrated end-to-end provision is an important factor in our ability to deliver a reliable, multi-modal service with the flexibility to cater to the pharma & healthcare industries, around the clock. Our customers often cite this as one of the determining factors in our partnership.

space and special

Keeping cool

We are investing in further cold storages and 2024-25 will see new cold storages for pharmaceutical products in Rotterdam and Jeddah, giving further strength to our pharmaceuticals offer.

Agility and precision

With an extensive global presence and a growing network of cold stores, we offer tailored solutions across diverse channels, providing end-to-end services adaptable to every stage of your products' lifecycle.

customised solution

Global reach, customised solutions

As vessel owners, this sea-based asset ownership enables prompt responses, effectively mitigating temperature deviations and safeguarding your valuable cargo.
Maersk ship

Helping you with your decarbonisation goals

An important part of Maersk’s strategy is to reach net-zero by 2040. Aligned with our commitment to sustainability, we proactively reduce our greenhouse gas footprint, optimise energy usage, and decrease waste by securing an unbroken cold chain.

With an understanding of the different methods available to reduce customers’ Scope 3 emissions (those occurring within your supply chain, but not directly emitted by you), Maersk is continually sifting ideas and innovations.

When moving cargo via ocean freight, Maersk offers our customers the option to purchase Maersk ECO Delivery Ocean. This is an innovative product that replaces fossil fuels with reduced GHG emissions fuels (Maersk defines reduced GHG emissions fuels as fuels with at least 65% reductions in GHG emissions on a lifecycle basis compared to fossil reference fuels with a baseline emission of 94 g CO2e/MJ), giving you an easy choice to transport your cargo more responsibly and grow your business, while securing significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Novo Nordisk is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies opting to invest in ECO Delivery - you can read more about their approach here.

With a strong foundation of strategy and innovation, our teams are able to work with partners to identify the best journey to take to improve organisational performance and meet ambitions.

Sustainability ambitions are driving air-to-sea conversions

Historically, companies have tried to overcome the complexities of running a pharma supply chain with speed, hence supply chains have been dominated by air. However, with products being vulnerable to temperature deviations - often prompted by multiple handovers - the advantages of refrigerated containers become clear. The containers take a pharma product from production to patient with minimal handling, with the door of the container not needing to be opened at all.

Consequently, every company transporting pharmaceutical products has, or will have, an ambition to look at ocean shipping. After being convinced of the cold chain capabilities logistic service providers such as Maersk can provide - proven via in-depth audit- the undeniable advantages of quality, as well as emission reductions and cost-effectiveness, come to the forefront.

Ocean solutions are proven to be more energy efficient than air and reducing air transport is one of the most impactful decarbonisation strategies companies can follow, while continuing to benefit from fast and secure cargo delivery.

intensity across transport

We see a wide range of products being converted to ocean, including very-high-value products such as biologics and vaccines. Our skilled pharmaceutical teams can recommend how to convert from air to sea, which lanes to operate in for the best service through our network of assets, and where there is fast and direct transit to specific markets.

ship on ocean

Moving forward

The key components of visibility, dedicated provision, ownership of assets and commitment to reducing emissions mean that we can support the vast and crucial pharmaceutical industry - to reliably uphold product integrity so that vital products can be delivered to points of need.

The visibility available to our customers, coupled with the reactive and forward-thinking approach from our trained teams, allows us to move products with reliability and sustainability.

Our options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a range of means provides our customers with collaborative ways to reduce their Scope 3 emissions and decarbonise their supply chain.

As we look to the future, it’s clear that as well as decarbonising, we must deliver truly integrated logistics. To ensure this, we are charging Maersk with the data and technological capabilities that will help us to solve customers’ pain points and give them the reliability, agility and resilience they need when moving their cargo globally.

At the same time, the ability to directly control actions within assets in the chain is crucial. Maersk continues to invest in strategic assets such as pharma cold storage in Rotterdam and Jeddah. With a high volume of pharmaceutical production taking place in Europe, Rotterdam’s new development will be a gateway for the import and export of pharmaceuticals in Europe.

These investments further position Maersk as a leader in advancing pharmaceutical supply chains.

Our experts are looking forward to continuing this discussion; exploring how we can improve your supply chain and ship your pharmaceutical and healthcare products with the reliability and assurances you need.

To learn more about Pharma Cold Chain Management (P-CCM) by Maersk please click hear.

Get in touch with our cold chain experts for more details, or to discuss your unique needs.

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