First edition ‘Challenges in Pharma Logistics’ was a direct hit

First edition ‘Challenges in Pharma Logistics’ was a direct hit

More than 50 logistics managers from leading pharmaceutical manufacturers from Belgium and abroad came to Leuven on February 11 – which was before the corona crisis – for the first edition of ‘Challenges in Pharma Logistics’. H.Essers organised this informative event at the Health House. An inspiring location for some astonishing presentations and a fascinating debate.

Health House is an information and experience centre about the future of health and healthcare. In an interactive way, visitors are introduced to ground-breaking technologies and innovations in the medical world. An ideal framework for the event of H.Essers about the challenges faced by pharmaceutical logistics. (Note: Although the pandemic has had and is still having a huge impact on the industry, we are not talking about the COVID 19-related challenges in this case, but about the structural challenges for the industry in the short, medium and long term).

To find out which challenges will be at the top of the agenda of managers in the pharmaceutical industry in the coming years, H.Essers conducted a survey among 200 senior managers. Yves Robeet, research manager at D-Sense, explained the results. The key words are: compliance, integrity of the cold chain, regional distribution centres, increasing complexity, end-to-end visibility and traceability, and sustainability.

Andreas Gmür, Head of Logistics at Camelot Management Consultants, looked further into the future. His insights were an eye-opener for those present: more and more medicines are tailor-made for the patient and hundreds of gene and cell therapies will be launched on the market in the coming years. The pharmaceutical industry is increasingly ‘patient centric’ and this evolution will have far-reaching consequences for logistics. While the chains are controlled by the products today, in the future they will be determined by the patient. “These challenges are also opportunities,” he stressed.

Call for more collaboration

The survey and the insights formed the basis of a fascinating debate led by Stefaan Friers, director of, the umbrella organisation of innovative pharmaceutical companies in Belgium. Danny Hendrikse, Vice-President Intercompany Operations at Pfizer, Stefan Langer, Director Group Procurement / Logistics Services at Merck and Tom Van Wesemael, Partner at Deloitte entered the debate. They came to the conclusion that these challenges should lead to more cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and logistics service providers.

Jef Molenaers, Global Industry Lead Pharma at H.Essers, closed the event with a call to the pharmaceutical industry to be more open to multimodal or synchromodal solutions. “The pharmaceutical train route to China is a growing success. Now it’s time to overcome the cold feet and start using trains within Europe as well,” was his message. It looks like the appeal was heard: since the pandemic broke out and transports are facing long waiting times at some borders, H.Essers has seen a marked increase in multimodal transport of pharmaceutical products, particularly to Italy, Romania and Poland.

We happily share the results and insights of the survey:








Do you want to look back on this event? You can, with our photo gallery or with our aftermovie:

Are you curious about our solutions for the pharmaceutical industry? Jef Molenaars ( will gladly tell you all about it.