Expansion of vaccine logistics gives new boost to cooling opportunities

Expansion of vaccine logistics gives new boost to cooling opportunities

Contrary to what some might think, Covid-19 was not the catalyst for the range of vaccine logistics services provided by H.Essers. In fact, our company has been working for some while with companies like Pfizer, and vaccine distribution was already one of our regular services. However, with the pandemic, we have recently greatly extended our cooling opportunities, including at our pharma hub in Genk. Linde Van Vlasselaer, Global Industry Lead Pharma, tells us how these latest investments have extended and reinforced our service.

Our site in Genk has been used for years to store and transship vaccines. Therefore, when the corona virus turned the world upside down in 2019, our company was already well prepared to distribute a potential vaccine. “Fortunately, a vaccine was eventually developed, not to mention by one of our own customers. Thanks to the existing infrastructure and our close collaboration over many years we were able to respond rapidly in warehousing and transporting their corona vaccine,” says Linde Van Vlasselaer. Although Covid-19 was not the reason for our vaccine logistics, more attention is now being paid to the importance of robust vaccine distribution from a social perspective. “And that is something that H.Essers is keen to respond to. We wish to be able to serve a wide pharma sector by facilitating all solutions, including those related to temperature-controlled transport.”

Dry ice

The temperature-controlled transport facilities offered by our company are also of vital importance. “We were already shipping the corona vaccine with cold packaging down to -70°C, to guarantee the quality of the liquid. However, we wish to extend such opportunities to the warehousing as well.” This is why H.Essers has invested in two new temperature categories for warehousing: -80° and -196°C. “Goods that arrive at our department in Genk are cooled with dry-ice packaging to temperatures of -20°C, -70°C and -80°C and will undergo a new packaging process performed by us. Among other things, the packaging we supply includes a data logger, which continuously monitors the ambient temperature. In this way, the goods are stored for 3 to 4 weeks at our warehouse. This allows us to monitor whether the nitrogen values remain high enough for further shipping. When transporting and storing down to -196°C, we use cryogen vats filled with liquid nitrogen, which require regular topping up.”

No simple matter

The delicate temperature balance is facilitated by a large tank of nitrogen on the Genk site. “It supplies nitrogen to the cooling elements, but requires refilling every fortnight. This involves a whole host of protective clothing and materials for our employees, including gloves, goggles and jackets.” Oxygen meters, attached to the clothes of colleagues concerned and fitted in the nitrogen rooms, are also used to guarantee safety. “So it is no simple matter to provide these ice-cold temperatures day after day, but we have acquired extensive experience. This is also why we have decided to extend our offer with the temperature category of -196°C. This refrigeration is particularly useful at present, but will also benefit people all over the world in the future.”

Are you interested in the vaccine logistics offered by H.Essers or are you looking for a tailored solution within the pharmaceutical industry? Linde Van Vlasselaer (linde.van.vlasselaer@essers.com) would be delighted to help you.