swissport opens pharma center in brussels
October 23, 2019
Swissport International, the global leader in airport ground services and air cargo handling, has opened its new Pharma Center at Brussels Airport. The facility is the company’s most advanced temperature-controlled cargo warehouse globally. Dedicated to the handling of pharmaceutical shipments, it is adjacent to Swissport’s existing air cargo facility in the northwest of the airport in the Belgian capital.
“We are delighted to be able to serve our customers at this state-of-the-art facility for their most sensitive products,” says Luzius Wirth, Executive Vice President Europe, Middle East & Africa of Swissport International. “We can now provide a seamless, high-quality service from the trucks to the aircraft cargo hold. The Swissport Pharma Center at Brussels Airport will play a key role in our growing global network of temperature-controlled warehouses. We are excited to contribute to a thriving Belgian Pharma Valley.”
The new Swissport Pharma Center features two areas for the handling of pharmaceutical products. 2,620 sqm are available for shipments which require a temperature range of +15°C to +25°C. This is three times the surface formerly available in this range.
Another 1,000 sqm of space are available in the +2° to +8°C range. The facility is equipped with eight dedicated truck docks, allowing for a fully temperature-controlled transfer of containers and pallets to the warehouse, regardless of the outside temperature. The facility’s new, automated material handling system with its 432 rack and ground positions, caster decks and associated forklifts and pallet movers, which are exclusively operated in the high-sensitive pharma area, ensure an efficient and safe handling. Swissport can now offer clients an end-to-end cool chain from the delivery to the warehouse until cargo is loaded into the aircraft.
“In the new Swissport Pharma Center two important Belgian assets come together, our unique location in Europe and a traditionally strong pharma sector,” says Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Development Cooperation. “Belgium is the second largest pharma exporter in Europe and no airport in the world has a better quality track record in temperature-sensitive transport of pharmaceutical products than Brussels Airport. I am convinced that the new Swissport Pharma Center will further boost these important Belgian assets.”
Swissport has signed a 20-year lease contract for the new facilities and is investing roughly 11 million Euros in interior fittings, namely an automated material handling system and special cooling installations. Complete with new forklifts, cargo scales, cleaning equipment and break rooms, the Brussels facility will be state-of-the-art in all aspects, also providing Swissport employees with a motivating, safe and healthy work environment.
Construction work at the new facility started in January 2019 and will take about two years to complete in a phased approach. After a construction period of only ten months, the Swissport Pharma Center is the first part of a refurbishment project, which covers 25,000 sqm of warehouse space. Land-side the warehouse will feature 47 truck loading bays in a closed perimeter. Air-side, “speed gates” are enabling efficient logistics processes. The project also includes a new four-story office building, to be completed in the autumn of 2020.
Swissport recently launched an initiative to speed-up air freight handling by introducing newly developed self-service kiosks. Here too, Brussels was the front runner in rolling out the service, followed by Amsterdam Airport. The company will introduce the kiosks across all major cargo stations within the next 24 months. With this digital innovation Swissport aims to reduce waiting times and increase the quality of the air freight documentation. Swissport Belgium, with a workforce of some 2,000 employees, handles more than 550,000 tons of air cargo per year. Its ground services division serves some 7.5 million passengers annually.