Inside the cold-chain facility at the heart of Cathay Pharma

We look at some of the features and innovations at the new Pharma Handling Centre

Cathay Pacific Cargo’s innovative Cathay Pharma solution is underpinned by a central piece of infrastructure in Hong Kong, one that provides an unmatched quality of service for temperature-sensitive shipments.

The Pharma Handling Centre (PHC) at the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal is both the newest and the largest dedicated pharma-handling facility at the airport. The 1,250m2 facility comes in addition to 1,360m2 of existing cold storage space for cold chain shipments, which offers rooms ranging between -25oC to +25oC for different types of shipment backed up by MobiFresh: mobile temperature-controlled storage units with temperature and location tracking.

‘With the addition of the Pharma Handling Centre, our home terminal at our Hong Kong hub offers one of the most comprehensive cold-chain storage and handling facilities in the world,’ says Director Cargo Tom Owen. ‘The pharma market is growing, and our CEIV and GDP-certified Pharma Handling Centre means with we have the room to grow with this market – while offering the quality, efficiency and operational excellence need for these vital and life-saving shipments, whether they are imports, exports or transshipments.’

Here’s a look at just some of the features which set the PHC apart.

Plug and play: moveable ceiling-mounted power points eliminate clutter
Plug and play: moveable ceiling-mounted power points eliminate clutter

More capacity and facilities

The 1,250m2 space in the PHC offers storage for 54 ULDs and 66 bulk cargo storage positions, and is designed for a maximum throughput of 235,000 tonnes a year. Actively cooled cooltainers can be recharged from innovatively designed power points: they are suspended from the ceiling, and can be moved to where the cooltainer is without cables cluttering the floor.

A bespoke design

By starting the design and build from scratch, Cathay Pacific Services Ltd (CPSL), which operates the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal, was able to incorporate the latest technology to ensure smooth and reliable operations to the standards demanded by the pharmaceutical industry.

This includes the ambient temperature range, which is maintained between +15oC to +25oC to reflect controlled room temperature requirements. This is tracked via 60 sensors across the room, which are linked to a web-based temperature and humidity management system for real-time control. Customers using Ultra Track for their shipments will be able to check in on temperature data and other information.

Fast and efficient: the space is designed to make build-up and breakdown easy
Fast and efficient: the space is designed to make build-up and breakdown easy

An optimised workflow

It’s not just the building: the entire workflow has been designed for speed and efficiency from the ground up. A temperature-controlled lobby with dedicated insulated truck docks enables acceptance and collection without compromising the ambient temperature of the room. There is a direct connection to the terminal’s Container Handling System, which can take containers from storage to airside collection in minutes. The PHC supports the terminal’s priority vaccine handling, which enables processing times of six minutes for pre-packed imports and four minutes for transhipments. There is also space for trained staff to carry out pharma shipment breakdown and build-up in temperature-controlled conditions.

Sustainability comes first

With sustainability front of mind for customers, the PHC has been built with the latest technology to minimise its environmental footprint. Cooling agents are made from non-ozone-depleting HFC (hydrogen, fluorine and carbon) refrigerants, while the room is lined with 420 high-thermal insulation panels to reduce energy consumption, as part of an overall suite of sustainable development initiatives at the terminal.

Unbroken cold chain: the PHC offers room to grow for pharma shipments
Unbroken cold chain: the PHC offers room to grow for pharma shipments

The Pharma Handling Centre has become the centrepiece of the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal’s Total Cold Chain Solution – and a worthy development, given the increase in temperature-sensitive shipments in Hong Kong and in air cargo generally, as CPSL Chief Operating Officer Mark Watts explains: ‘Our investment in the new Pharma Handling Centre demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement, ensuring that we can provide fast and dependable handling for the growing pharma market for many years to come.’

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