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From –20°C to +30°C.

With the service “Cool/td-Active”, Lufthansa Cargo offers temperature-controlled transport from consignor to consignee. The cool & heat containers called “Unicoolers” are a key to the success of Lufthansa Cargo’s Competence Center Temperature Control (CCTC). They carry, for example, urgently required vaccines for swift transportation to Washington. Or to destinations all over the world. The phone lines in Marburg are buzzing. It is the vaccination season in the northern hemisphere, and hospitals and doctors have to cope with a rising tide of patients. On this Friday afternoon, an unusually large number of customers from the U.S. are ringing up the pharmaceutical company, which manufactures certain sera in Marburg only. For destinations worldwide.

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The reaction is swift: the house forwarder is commissioned to organize an urgently required transportation to Washington. Lufthansa Cargo’s capacities there are checked straight away. The green light is given! For the appropriate transport receptacle for the highly sensitive cargo, too: vaccines must be transported at between two and eight degrees Celsius to ensure that they remain fit for use. This solution has a name: Cool/td-Active, the Lufthansa Cargo service for temperature-controlled transport.

The driver from the forwarding company gets into his truck at about 6 p.m. to pick up four Unicoolers – purpose-built cool & heat containers – at Lufthansa Cargo’s Competence Center Temperature Control (CCTC) at Frankfurt Airport. Two hours later, he is loading the high-tech containers with the vaccine in Marburg.

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The journey continues next morning: at 6 a.m. the truck with the Unicoolers passes through the security gate and drops them off at Lufthansa Cargo’s Perishables Center. The team led by Karin Krestan, Senior Handling Manager at the CCTC, takes on the sensitive cargo. “We ensure that the shipments are handled as carefully and as swiftly as possible prior to take-off in compliance with temperature control provisions,” Krestan explains. “Furthermore, we keep an eye on every single transport operation from the booking through to the final delivery.”

The Boeing 747 with the flight number LH 418 takes off on schedule at 1 p.m. at Frankfurt Airport and lands at 3.50 p.m. at Dulles International Airport in Washington. A short while later, the forwarder begins with the distribution of the vaccine – for the benefit of the patients.

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In addition to the care exercised by the handling team, the cool & heat containers play a key role in the standardized process of Cool/td-Active. Lufthansa Cargo makes more than 240 of these purpose-built containers available to its customers. And the number is growing by the month. The intelligent receptacles come in two sizes: the version RAP has room for up to five euro-pallets, the RKN for one. As a rule, the goods are stowed in the container by the customers themselves and then taken to the airport in a thermo truck. Provided this is allowed by country-specific regulations, forwarders also transport the shipment at the receiving point along with the container to the customer to ensure seamless temperature control.

The temperature inside the containers can be set at values between -20 and +30 degrees Celsius. With the help of an autonomous cooling and heating system, the containers are, to a large extent, able to maintain a constant temperature – irrespective of whether heat or frost prevails outside. Lufthansa Cargo’s goal is a deviation of no more than plus/minus three degrees Celsius from the defined temperature. The temperature usually fluctuates by less than one degree – that’s how fine-tuned cooling and heating operate.

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Sometimes the containers have to work really hard on a single journey. “For example, when they take off in winter in Chicago at -15 degrees for delivery in Dubai, where the temperature is +40 degrees,” explains Hans-Peter Justus, Senior Product Manager for Cool/td at the CCTC. “Such extreme outside temperature ranges are no problem for our cool & heat containers – as long as their accumulators are well-charged and the desired degree value has been properly set.” For this reason, Lufthansa Cargo employees recheck the container’s correct programming prior to take-off.

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As a rule, primary pharmaceutical products, sera or advanced cancer-fighting drugs tolerate only very slight fluctuations in temperature. Otherwise their molecular structure changes and they become unfit for use. A great responsibility, which all persons involved are aware of.

“We not only have a professional commitment to do our job as optimally as possible, but a moral one too,” says Christopher Dehio, Senior Key Account Manager at the CCTC. “Every person who goes to the doctor and is given a medicine should be able to rely on its first-class quality.”

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Continuous temperature logging Accordingly, there is strict monitoring of the shipments: in addition to the manufacturers themselves, who continuously record the temperature of their goods with data loggers, Lufthansa Cargo’s cool & heat container also permanently documents its inside temperature.

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This is an important documentation of quality for the pharmaceutical manufacturers, which government institutions in the recipient markets are also demanding more and more frequently. Temperature is one key aspect, speed is another.

The colleagues from Fraport, who lose no time and take on the transportation of the Unicoolers to the aircraft, know this too. About a third of all cool & heat containers are transported in Lufthansa Cargo freighters, with two-thirds flying in Lufthansa’s wide-body aircraft. These are large passenger aircraft, such as the Airbus A340 the Boeing 747, and soon the A380 too, which depart from Frankfurt or Munich to destinations all over the world.

Lufthansa Cargo has equipped 89 stations to handle cool & heat containers. And the number of such stations is steadily rising. Trained personnel must be at the ready at both ends of the transport chain. They take care of dry ice for the cooling, electric sockets for the recharging of the containers as well as generally accelerating processes. No other carrier offers such a competent and global network. Even the pilots are informed about what exactly is in their cargo holds, thus ensuring that not only the passengers but also the cargo shipments arrive safely. Cool/td-Active, therefore, is not only of interest to the pharmaceutical industry, but also to other economic sectors. In the meantime, for example, temperature-sensitive high-tech devices as well as valuable chemicals, lacquers or resins are sent on their way in the cool & heat containers.

Lufthansa Cargo has equipped 89 stations to handle cool & heat containers. And the number of such stations is steadily rising. Trained personnel must be at the ready at both ends of the transport chain. They take care of dry ice for the cooling, electric sockets for the recharging of the containers as well as generally accelerating processes. No other carrier offers such a competent and global network. Even the pilots are informed about what exactly is in their cargo holds, thus ensuring that not only the passengers but also the cargo shipments arrive safely.

All of them could not be transported with cooling alone. Some adhesives that are used, for example, for joining engineering in the aircraft industry, for example, are only allowed to be transported between +20 and +28 degrees Celsius, otherwise they start to set.

Refrigerated airfreight transport has existed ever since decommissioned DC3s flew ice-chilled freshly caught tuna fish from the South Pacific to California after the second world war.

Flying airfreight shipments for sophisticated industrial customers within tight temperature ranges, on the other hand, is new ground. With Cool/td-Active, Lufthansa Cargo operates confidently on this terrain. And it also offers forwarders and industry new possibilities of organizing their worldwide supply chains for particularly temperature-sensitive goods.

www.lufthansa-cargo.com

Whether external temperature, internal temperature, humidity, battery status or door functionalities – a system of sensors fitted into the cool & heat containers continuously logs all data relevant for the quality of temperature control throughout the entire transportation.

Sophisticated technology enables, in accordance with presets, a by and large constant temperature level inside the Lufthansa Cargo cool & heat containers. Dry ice carried with the container and an electronic heating system work hand in hand here.

Lufthansa Cargo’s goal is a deviation of no more than plus/minus three degrees from the preset temperature.

Specially prepared programs guarantee easy and fast use of the containers: program 1 is suitable for goods that have to be transported between +2 and +8 degrees Celsius. The mean value set here is +5 degrees Celsius. Program 2 was developed for goods that require a temperature of +15 to +25 degrees Celsius during transportation. The mean value is also set here, at +20 degrees. Finally, program 3 enables a variable temperature of -20 degrees to +30 degrees Celsius.

The scheduling and allocation of Lufthansa Cargo’s 240 cool & heat containers calls for flexibility, as the 120 RKNs and 120 RAPs are in great demand by the pharmaceutical and high-tech industry. In collaboration with a team of specialists from Sharjah, the Product Management Team of the Competence Center Temperature Control (CCTC) reliability schedules and allocates the popular boxes for customers all over the world.

All of them could not be transported with cooling alone. Some adhesives that are used, for example, for joining engineering in the aircraft industry, for example, are only allowed to be transported between +20 and +28 degrees Celsius, otherwise they start to set.

Refrigerated airfreight transport has existed ever since decommissioned DC3s flew ice-chilled freshly caught tuna fish from the South Pacific to California after the second world war. Flying airfreight shipments for sophisticated industrial customers within tight temperature ranges, on the other hand, is new ground. With Cool/td-Active, Lufthansa Cargo operates confidently on this terrain. And it also offers forwarders and industry new possibilities of organizing their worldwide supply chains for particularly temperature-sensitive goods.

www.lufthansa-cargo.com

Whether external temperature, internal temperature, humidity, battery status or door functionalities – a system of sensors fitted into the cool & heat containers continuously logs all data relevant for the quality of temperature control throughout the entire transportation.

Sophisticated technology enables, in accordance with presets, a by and large constant temperature level inside the Lufthansa Cargo cool & heat containers. Dry ice carried with the container and an electronic heating system work hand in hand here.

Lufthansa Cargo’s goal is a deviation of no more than plus/minus three degrees from the preset temperature.

Specially prepared programs guarantee easy and fast use of the containers: program 1 is suitable for goods that have to be transported between +2 and +8 degrees Celsius. The mean value set here is +5 degrees Celsius. Program 2 was developed for goods that require a temperature of +15 to +25 degrees Celsius during transportation. The mean value is also set here, at +20 degrees. Finally, program 3 enables a variable temperature of -20 degrees to +30 degrees Celsius.

The scheduling and allocation of Lufthansa Cargo’s 240 cool & heat containers calls for flexibility, as the 120 RKNs and 120 RAPs are in great demand by the pharmaceutical and high-tech industry. In collaboration with a team of specialists from Sharjah, the Product Management Team of the Competence Center Temperature Control (CCTC) reliability schedules and allocates the popular boxes for customers all over the world.

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“The network is alive!”

Interview with Gabie Hartmann, Consultant Global Cool Container System, Product Management for Cool/td, at Lufthansa Cargo’s Competence Center Temperature Control (CCTC).

What is your task at the CCTC?

Gabie Hartmann: I manage acute network issues and to make sure enough containers are in stock at the locations at which the customers require them at any particular time. I am supported here by a team of Lufthansa Cargo specialists that is based in Sharjah and that coordinates from there the turnaround of all Cool/td-Active containers. All orders are made via the desert metropolis. Eight employees schedule and allocate the 240 cool & heat containers and the more than 4,000 cool-only containers that are in global use for the service Cool/td-Active.

What happens to the containers once they have arrived at the airport of destination?

Gabie Hartmann: Provided this is allowed by country-specific regulations, we also make them available to our customers beyond the airport. To enable an unbroken cool chain from the consignor to the consignee, the time of container return is important. As a rule, the customers rent a container for four days or 96 hours. The 96-hour rule has the advantage for the customers that the hire period is not shortened by time zones – which is important, for example, for transportation from the U.S. to Asia. But longer hire periods are also possible. If the containers are overdue at the agreed return time, the ULD Management in Sharjah informs us about it and additional charges are made. At some stations, we have a so-called container stock for certain shippers. This way, we offset possible irregularities in container turnaround and minimize supply bottlenecks for the customer. This system also enables us to cater for short-term capacity peaks.

You are reputed to almost always know exactly where every single one of the 240 cool & heat containers is anywhere in the world...

Gabie Hartmann: Yes correct, that is true. The containers are in tremendous demand on the customer side. It’s normal, therefore, that you simply make a mental note of their current whereabouts. What I enjoy most is seeing how the required number of containers gets to the right place at the right time. If a flight from FRA is delayed, for example, then I check whether I can make the containers available via Munich. I must always draw up new routes. What is more, the traffic flows for transportation are extremely imbalanced. In other words: of four cool & heat containers shipped to destination A, at most one, if at all, returns a short while later filled with refrigerated cargo. For the turnaround planning and the container logistics, this is one of the most exciting challenges.

Lufthansa Cargo has currently equipped 89 stations to handle cool & heat containers. When will the figure of 100 be reached?

Gabie Hartmann: Maybe this year already – the network is alive! The sales people and Lufthansa Cargo’s key account managers communicate the industry’s requirements to the Product Management team. The network of Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo constantly adapts to the overall demand, the number of aircraft deployed can change very quickly, and a flight destination may sometimes be deleted from the flight timetable in favor of a completely different one. We must to be prepared for this.

Photos:

Matthias Just

planet 1/2010

What is your task at the CCTC?
Gabie Hartmann: I manage acute network issues and to make sure enough containers are in stock at the locations at which the customers require them at any particular time. I am supported here by a team of Lufthansa Cargo specialists that is based in Sharjah and that coordinates from there the turnaround of all Cool/td-Active containers. All orders are made via the desert metropolis. Eight employees schedule and allocate the 240 cool & heat containers and the more than 4,000 cool-only containers that are in global use for the service Cool/td-Active.

What happens to the containers once they have arrived at the airport of destination? 
Gabie Hartmann: Provided this is allowed by country-specific regulations, we also make them available to our customers beyond the airport. To enable an unbroken cool chain from the consignor to the consignee, the time of container return is important. As a rule, the customers rent a container for four days or 96 hours. The 96-hour rule has the advantage for the customers that the hire period is not shortened by time zones – which is important, for example, for transportation from the U.S. to Asia. But longer hire periods are also possible. If the containers are overdue at the agreed return time, the ULD Management in Sharjah informs us about it and additional charges are made. At some stations, we have a so-called container stock for certain shippers. This way, we offset possible irregularities in container turnaround and minimize supply bottlenecks for the customer. This system also enables us to cater for short-term capacity peaks.

You are reputed to almost always know exactly where every single one of the 240 cool & heat containers is anywhere in the world...
Gabie Hartmann: Yes correct, that is true. The containers are in tremendous demand on the customer side. It’s normal, therefore, that you simply make a mental note of their current whereabouts. What I enjoy most is seeing how the required number of containers gets to the right place at the right time. If a flight from FRA is delayed, for example, then I check whether I can make the containers available via Munich. I must always draw up new routes. What is more, the traffic flows for transportation are extremely imbalanced. In other words: of four cool & heat containers shipped to destination A, at most one, if at all, returns a short while later filled with refrigerated cargo. For the turnaround planning and the container logistics, this is one of the most exciting challenges.

Lufthansa Cargo has currently equipped 89 stations to handle cool & heat containers. When will the figure of 100 be reached?
Gabie Hartmann: Maybe this year already – the network is alive! The sales people and Lufthansa Cargo’s key account managers communicate the industry’s requirements to the Product Management team. The network of Lufthansa and Lufthansa Cargo constantly adapts to the overall demand, the number of aircraft deployed can change very quickly, and a flight destination may sometimes be deleted from the flight timetable in favor of a completely different one. We must to be prepared for this.

 

Photos:

Matthias Just

planet 1/2010